When you’re the new pastor’s wife everyone wants to have coffee with you. This isn’t bragging as much as the nature of the beast.
All the women are intrigued by you and want to ask you all about your life. They want to hear your life story and how you came to faith and what’s your go-to potluck recipe. They want to make sure you feel welcomed and asked the hallowed, “How can I pray for you?” question.
It’s all very wonderful and exciting. Until it’s not.
Until you’ve filled every hour that the kids are in school with this coffee date, or that lunch, or one more prayer walk. Until you look down at your phone and realize the kids get out in thirty minutes and you have to rush to grab them right that very second.
As you’re driving away, way more caffeinated and slightly more connected, you ask yourself, “What kind of crazy sauce life am I living?” And then you decide to do something about it.
This is where I was last June right before the summer break. We moved to L.A. last February and as soon as the kids started school a month later, I started filling my schedule with these “get to know you” dates.
Being an ESFJ, I was exhilarated with a full week of meetings. Determined to transition well into not only this new city and new church, but also my role as a pastor’s wife. I thought saying “yes” was a given. My Southern upbringing wouldn’t have me do anything but be all gracious, all available. All. The. Time.
I realized very quickly that pace was unsustainable, for me, for my family, and for the women in my church. More times than I’m comfortable with, I heard from them, “You’re just so busy!”
Socrates once said, “Beware the bareness of a busy life.” That’s how those months of appointments upon appointments felt. Barren. They were full of activity, but empty of substantial connections.
This isn’t a whole life, by any stretch of the imagination. So, over the summer while the kids played in the pool and I read books about time management and creativity in the fringe hours, I made three boundaries to keep me social and sane.
1. Only two coffee dates a week. One local, and one that requires a drive.
L.A. is different than Boston in that we’re always in our cars. I went from using the T almost everyday to relying on my car simply to grocery shop. Within week one of moving here, I gave a huge portion of my Starbucks While Writing budget to the gasoline line item (that one stung).
I’m adjusting, maybe not fast enough, but I’m trying. Until I’m completely okay with being in the car more often, driving downtown (a thirty minute drive from our suburb) is a huge commitment, so once a week seems like a good starting place.
There are some weeks where we have a meeting for church that requires me to be downtown more than once. In those cases, I try to schedule appointments before or after so I can stay close to home which leads me to the next boundary.
2. Be home an hour and a half before the kids get out of school.
This boundary has caused me to miss out on a couple of coffee dates, and I’ve had more than a few confused responses when I say, “Sure I can meet you for lunch, but it’ll only be 45 minutes. I have to be back home by 1:00 because the kids get out at of school at 2:30.”
In those first few months of rushing from an outing to pick the kids up from school, I was almost always late and frazzled because I hadn’t transitioned from being “friend” to “mom,” and I resented the kids a bit for getting out of school.
That resentment manifested in snapping, rushing through the fast food lane for comfort milkshakes, and impatient homework help. Nobody was happy to be home.
If I’m home for at least an hour and a half before the kids come home, I can do chores, make phone calls, or eat lunch in peace. I can sit by our pool and read or take a nap. I can enjoy the quiet of my home, which is the best gift you can give to a stay at home mom. In addition to the hour and a half at home I budget every day, I have my Anchor Day.
3. Observe an Anchor Day, and Keep it Holy.
This isn’t a Sabbath in the traditional sense. It’s not a Saturday and it’s not primarily dedicated to spiritual nourishment. But it is a Sabbath—a day set apart for refreshing.
I call it an Anchor Day because I position it in the middle of the week, either Wednesday or Thursday, to ground me in the hustle and bustle of a busy ministry family life.
The nature of our calling is that we’re at the mercy of so many people’s schedules. I knew that going in, but I also know that I can’t be on, all the time, and still keep my head above the water. So I started observing Anchor Day.
I don’t plan a single thing outside the home on this day. Everything I do on my Anchor Day is home-centered. DIYs, trying out a new crock pot recipe, organizing a messy space… these are all things I do on my Anchor Day.
Don’t think I’m all virtuous and Pinteresty, because I’m not. I get lost in those show binges that I can’t watch with the kiddos in the room, like House of Cards or Mozart in the Jungle. I even write or podcast or create new graphics for my site.
I never thought of my self as a homebody, but ever since I installed Anchor Day in my weekly schedule, I really identify with the words of Maya Anglou: “The ache of home lives in all of us.”
Anchor Day addresses this ache and fills me up so I can be home, a safe place where my kids and my church family are welcomed.
These boundaries are a little strange to some, I know. At first, they felt restrictive and unkind. I hated telling people no or scheduling out a few weeks instead of being spontaneous. My mantra in these moments is they can have Spontaneous Osheta, who now rushes out at every invitation, or they can wait a few weeks and have a more centered and present Osheta.
I’m happy I created these boundaries for me at the beginning of the school year. I have a newfound love for my home and this new church community.
My kids have noticed a change in me when they come home, too, so much so that when I’m a little loud or sigh a few too many times, they ask if I had a late meeting. These times usually happen when they get out early, which I’m still figuring out how to navigate with these new boundaries.
Upholding these boundaries has made me a more confident woman. I’m owning my limitations and honoring the unique way I’m made, which is wholehearted living at its best.