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    Modern Catholic Women

    Breaking Down the Stay-At-Home-Mom Stereotype

    Breaking down the SAHM stereotype -- FemCatholic.com

    I recently got kicked out of a Catholic moms group because I didn’t participate in enough mom meet-ups.

    Yep, that’s right. Kicked out.

    Let me back up a little.

    In the two years following college, I worked full-time at a hospital and school for children with disabilities. I did mainly fundraising and community outreach, and I loved it. The kids were heroes, each battling severe physical and mental conditions, and I was daily reminded of the sacredness and frailty of human life. I was grateful to do meaningful work right out of school and I appreciated the chance to touch lives in some small yet powerful way.

    When my husband and I welcomed our first child into our family this past spring,  I decided to stay at home full-time. It was no doubt sad to say goodbye to my job and the families to whom I had grown close. Nevertheless, I embraced my role as a new mother wholeheartedly and didn’t look back for a second.

    But as many new mothers will admit, life at home all day with an illiterate little person can be extremely lonely, especially when you’re used to constant intellectual stimulation as a professional in the working world. Knowing this, I was excited and anxious to make some friends who would alleviate that feeling of loneliness and isolation. So, I joined the Catholic moms group in hopes of finding a few kindred spirits who were also looking for companionship and solidarity in the sometimes mundane stay-at-home life. What I thought would be an enriching and stimulating community, though, proved instead to reinforce a stereotype about stay-at-home moms that is both limiting and reductive.

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    Dear Edith

    Dear Edith Response #3 – Jessica

    I'm Not Maternal: Dear Edith question for catholic women -- femcatholic.com

    Read the original question here.

    Hi Anonymous,

    I resonate with you.

    While I will admit that I personally love babies and hope to be married and a mom one day – I, too, get irked by the overwhelming abundance of Catholic wife and mommy blogs and the unspoken yet pervasive sense that “mommy-hood” is what it means to be a fully realized Catholic woman.

    I have other passions, abilities, and callings in life too besides pushing out babies. Ultimately, what it means to be a holy Catholic woman today is to follow Christ to the best of my ability, strengthened by the grace of God. I want to live out my apostolate, my call to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world, now, today, each day. God has not yet allowed me to become a wife or a mother, and for all I know, that might never happen for me. So in the meantime, what does it mean to live out my vocation in my current state of life?   

    While you say “I’m not maternal”, I would ask – what does the word “maternal” mean anyway?

    What does it mean to be a mother? We often think that being maternal means reacting like the dog from the movie “Up” when he sees a squirrel every time we see a baby, or that it means fantasizing about our future children and “decorating a nursery”, or lamenting the increasingly audible sound of our biological clocks. But is that all it means to be maternal?

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    Dear Edith

    Dear Edith Response #2 – Julie

    I'm not maternal: Catholic women respond -- FemCatholic.com

    Read the original question here.

    Dear anonymous,

    One of the beautiful revelations for me of reading St. John Paul II’s Letter to Women, was discovering the Catholic church upheld women working. Up unto then, I thought the only way to be a true woman was to be a SAHM. Being present in the workplace as a woman balances the workplace environment.

    God perhaps has withheld imparting the desire for biological maternity to spare you the agony of wanting something that is not yet attainable in your life because you are single. You can live what is called spiritual motherhood.

    Spiritual motherhood is a beautiful gift. I witnessed this in a profound way on a mission trip to Haiti. I was with a group of college students, priests, and consecrated women. We were ministering in the wound clinic. The wounds were severe and very painful. A consecrated woman knelt down at the feet of a woman with a severe toe wound. Very lovingly, gently and so Christ like she soothed the women as the consecrated debrided her foot – without pain meds. This consecrated woman was ministering Christ present in the Haitian woman. Such a profound beauty of spiritual motherhood. Also on the trip, I witnessed these consecrated women rock babies, feed babies, and lovingly hold them. Again, another way to care for others in our femininity in lieu of biological motherhood.

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    Modern Catholic Women

    The one big thing missing from the Working Mom debate 

    The big thing missing from the working mom debate for Catholic women mothers -- FemCatholic.com

    “Oh, I’m going to be a stay-at-home mom,” she said, surrounded by the other women at brunch.

    They nodded, giving their approval, and the affirmation so many Catholic women seek these days.

    I get it.

    We want to acknowledge the value in staying home, in foregoing apparent worldly success in order to give day in and day out to one’s family. Because for all the advancements feminism has brought women, greater recognition of caregiving and homemaking hasn’t been one of them.

    Because for all the advancements feminism has brought women, greater recognition of caregiving and homemaking hasn’t been one of them.

    But what if in proclaiming their desire to be SAHMs, women think they’ve rejected modern feminism, and they’ve actually given into it?

    Let me explain.

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    Dear Edith

    Dear Edith Response #1 – Brittany

    Dear Edith: I'm Not Maternal - read response #1 here on FemCatholic.com

    Read the original question here.

    Dear I’m Not Maternal,

    Regarding the lack of maternal feelings . . . I used to want to be a nun.

    In fact, I’d often remark that I found the idea of sex repulsive, and childbirth? Forget it. “Take my womb; I don’t need it!”

    Then, I had what could only be described as a divine dream. It helped me realize that the path toward the convent was not what God wanted for me; this shook my sense of self, because I felt that a woman’s identity in the Church seemed to be built around holy virginity or mothering as many children as possible. I really struggled with God’s will for a long time, and it took therapy for me to discover that a large portion of my desire for the convent was my fear of intimacy and my unwillingness to surrender control. . .

    I felt that a woman’s identity in the Church seemed to be built around holy virginity or mothering as many children as possible.

    Then I met THE ONE. It was like a light bulb went off and I realized why I wasn’t meant for the convent after all. I still wasn’t keen on the idea of children, though. I was a strong, independent woman who resented the box that society tries to put women in.

    Now, I didn’t mind other people’s kids. Heck, I was a teacher! But surely I was too impatient/selfish/unfit for motherhood. I had more to offer life than another human on an already crowded planet.

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    Dear Edith

    Dear Edith Response #3 – Catherine

    Dear Edith finding meaning as a SAHM -- FemCatholic.com

    Read the original question here.

    Dear Annemarie,

    I felt a little envious when I first read of your plight to be quite honest.

    Studying and working, newly married (TEN months before baby born), sick as a dog and incredibly busy, I was in denial about the realities for a good part of my first pregnancy. I winged it completely, cried at the birthing classes, couldn’t do the breathing, ran out of the birth video in horror.

    With the hindsight of 25 years and 5 children, what would I do differently?

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    Dear Edith

    Dear Edith Response #2 – A mom who remembers

    Finding Meaning as a SAHM -- FemCatholic.com

    Read the original question here.

    Dear Annemarie,

    I, too, experienced health complications as a young wife and mother to be. Due to my health, I could no longer fulfill my duties at work. I remember going through a stage of trying to be the Proverbs 31 woman and the perfect housewife.

    I soon found, however, that I was very bored. And anxious. And ashamed of myself for being “just a housewife.”
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