Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Sister Apart

I need help. I have a conundrum, or at least it feels like a conundrum to me.

I work with the Children at Church. To be specific I am the Primary Chorister, which means that I lead the children in singing and I teach them new songs to prepare them for their "Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation", aka, the Primary Program, each year. And it really does take all year to learn all the songs. I love it. I absolutely would cry and possibly go into a deep depression if I were to be told that I couldn't do it anymore. There are lots of reasons, but mostly I love the music and I love the children, yes it can be frustrating at times but the majority of the time it is AMAZING. If you ever want to feel how much God and Jesus Christ love us, sit for a while in a room full of children who are singing about their love of God, their love of our Savior and their knowledge that God and Christ truly love them. It is amazing. So I love it. I really really do.

But recently I have felt a little alone. I don't feel like I really know the people at church anymore. I have been away from the Women for so long that I don't know what is going on. I don't feel like I am missing out spiritually, after all I get to hear 2-4 talks and 2 Gospel Centered lessons each Sunday, I feel the Spirit of the Lord and I know that the things being taught to the children that I spend my Sundays with are true. What I miss is hearing the good news that the Adult Sisters in the congregation want to share with each other, and I miss hearing about their personal experiences, their struggles and their triumphs. I feel like a Sister Apart, I feel kind of like I am on a mission or an extended trip away from home and no one is writing to me about what is going on in their lives. It is sad.

I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, I got an Assistant Chorister! The plan was that she and I would switch off and every other month we would each have the chance to attend Relief Society (Women's Meetings) at Church. I looked forward to hearing and sharing Good News. I looked forward to Sitting next to Christy, because I miss sitting next to her. I looked forward to getting to know the 50 or 100 new Sisters that have joined our congregation over the past 16 months.

Today was the first day that my Assistant- aka, partner in crime- came to Primary. After the Meetings were over one of our sweet smiling leaders came over to talk to us. She told us that she wanted to let us know what the expectation for our partnership would be. One of us would handle Singing Time each month and the other would take care of all the other songs, Opening, Welcoming New Children, Birthday Songs, etc, and each month we would switch. This was a very interesting idea but not the one I had in mind so I told them my idea, that Yes, we could switch off months but with one of us handling all of the Chorister duties while the other was allowed to attend the Adult Sunday School and Relief Society Classes. The Smile on my face must have been huge! The answer was a quick no. Primary workers need to stay in Primary. My smile faded.

I will do what I am asked and I think I will like it, it makes sense and will help me from feeling like I am constantly standing up to lead a song and wondering what impromptu song I will be asked to lead next. It is a very well thought out plan, but it hurts that my plan was shot down so easily. For a few moments I felt like I had been placed in a cage. I really did. I felt kind of like a criminal, my crime was thinking outside the box, or thinking that I wanted to be outside the Primary Room.

So what do I do now. How do I get to know the Ladies at Church better? Do I ask for all the Good News that is shared to be written down and emailed to me? Maybe there could be a rule that all new People at church have to come into the Primary and introduce themselves? Or a Church Directory that has a little Bio and a Picture of each member? I am at a loss.

I do know that I will happily lead the children in song for as long as I am allowed too, and I know that God will bless me for that service. Who knows what else will happen. I just hope that I figure out the answer to my conundrum soon, that or I just get over this feeling of being out of the loop.

P.S. I looked up the definition of conundrum.... and I hope the answer is not a pun, though being married to Ken, if he answers it, it just might be one.


Tennille said...

Hmm. I don't particularly love the Primary counselor's answer to you. I would hope that if I were in her shoes, I would be flexible enough and in tune enough to say, "Let's try it this way to start, but I will definitely keep your ideas in mind." I think your plan for how things would go was just as valid and workable as hers.

I always feel so sad for women in Primary and YW because of what they miss in Relief Society. And now that I'm newly called as a Primary teacher, I'm even more keenly aware of it. Does your ward do extra Enrichment activities? I would suggest that you try to get involved in a few fun weekly or bi-weekly activities so you feel like you're a part of the "sisterhood." I'm going to try and do that myself.

Good luck. :)

Jennifer Hatch said...

If you would like to we can get together every Monday or something and I can give you the run-down of the good news minutes and any other tidbits of information shared. :)

mj4toty said...

When I first got married and began coming to my new ward, I was almost immediately called into Primary. I stayed in Primary for almost five years until I was released and called into Young Women's where I am now. I loved serving in Primary but like you said, felt like a woman apart. I didn't feel like I knew anyone (half of the ward thought Nic had an inactive wife and when my sister lived with us, they thought she was his wife). And unlike you, I didn't feel spiritually nourished. I felt like Sunday was all about chasing other people's kids around and trying to get them to be quiet long enough to listen to the sharing time (we had some real stinkers at the time that have gone done in the history of primary children as such). I also tried to find a solution where we could have some sort of rotation where Primary women could go to RS even once a month but was told the same thing--church policy says you serve where you are called. I really struggled with it and had some bitter moments. But a couple of things that I found that helped me was to really get out of my comfort zone and make the effort myself to get to know new sisters and to be a part of RS. I tried really hard to go to all the activities and even made up some of my own activities. I used to do a cooking night once a month and invite all the sisters around my age from the ward to the house to cook. It's hard but the more you can reach out, the more you feel a part of the 'circle of sisters'.
P.S. It was good to see you guys the other day!

Angie said...

Okay, because I am a lawyer and that's how my brain works, and because I actually have access to a Handbook of Instructions in my house, I looked up the section that governs primary. The quote is that primary teachers remain with the children the entire time. But, choristers are NOT teachers. They have a whole different section for them which makes no mention of the need to remain in the primary room for 2 hours each Sunday. Even the sentence about the primary teachers remaining with the children was written, I think, to address the common problem of teachers thinking they can ditch sharing time if it suits them, which is not cool. And there is no language that I could find that specifically limits swapping or job sharing. I don't think the idea of serving where you're called necessarily limits flexibility or a respite from time to time. I think a way that you could have some adult time and your Primary President could adhere to your stake's interpretation of the handbook would be if you were each designated either Jr. or Sr. Primary Chorister. In that way, you would fulfill your calling for your allotted hour and then go to the appropriate adult class for the other hour. Our stake handles primary callings in multiples wherever possible with the express instructions that when it is not your week to teach/ hour to lead, you are to attend your regular adult meetings. That allows less isolation and stifling and frankly has allowed primary workers to last longer in their roles before burn out.

But all that said, I would be prayerful about further discussions with your leaders. Obedience can be tricky, especially when it seems like it is unnecessarily caging, but cultivating an obedient heart always brings blessings. (I was the primary chorister through 4 ward divisions and a stake division. I used to joke that I didn't know anyone in the ward over 4' tall and it was sadly true, but my enrichment attendance was 100% during that time to compensate and it did help, up to a point)

Mel said...

I'm sure that if you expressed your feelings to the Primary Presidency like you did in this post, they would understand your need and give you some room to experience some RS for a while.

I was quite surprised to read MJ4toty's response, as it hits very strongly in how I have been feeling lately. There are some weeks where I feel like I just babysit kids while their parents get spiritually fed. Why not me? My kids won't keep quiet enough during Sacrament meeting for me to pay attention and feel the Spirit. Sharing time and singing time I'm constantly dealing with issues of various sorts, and rarely get to hear much. I crave the knowledge, spirit and sisterhood that you get in RS. I also envy the lucky women who get to go. There, I said it! I know that I'm needed in my current calling and I'll do the best I can. It's still hard though.

Good luck with it, and stay strong!

AZSMITHS said...

I've felt that way a lot when in Nursery and Primary. Especially being the pianist because I'm just sitting behind the piano.

In our ward they have 2 teachers for each class so that they can take turns going to RS and watching/teaching the kids.

I always made sure that I attended as many activities as I could. You could also ask the RS President how you could be more active in RS.

Good Luck, you're not alone!!

Shanna said...

I just wanted to share a cute blog post I received a link to in an email. I get several emails each week from and one I received the other day was on Primary callings. One of the links was on Primary Music Leaders and I thought of you and this post. It's not really a solution to what your feeling (though I hope that something can be worked out so you feel better) but I thought I would share it with you. the link is.....

Jodi said...

I'm a little late on catching up with my blog reading, but are they still sending out the RS email? You could always talk to the RS Pres. about how you feel and see if there is a way for you to get the announcements on Sun. and, if they are still doing the email, put in a "Good News Minute" and maybe include the names of the new move-ins. Or perhaps they could include those things in the next weeks RS announcements. I'm sure the RS Presidency would be willing to do what they can to help you, and others who feel the same way.