1) Waiting on a job change
My season of waiting started at the beginning of this year. My company was struggling financially. We started seeing some changes: cuts in benefits, attrition, spending freezes.
I began praying to God asking what I should do. He told me to wait until the fall.
At first, it was easy to wait: I enjoy my job, love my company, and have a fantastic manager. As the year progressed and worse announcements were made, doubt grew and I started looking for new jobs.
Though logically, seeking a new job seemed like the right choice, I felt uneasy. It went beyond dissatisfaction with the available jobs or frustration when I was outright rejected for jobs I was qualified for; something was unsettling me.
After (finally) really listening to God, I realized I just needed to trust Him and wait. I stopped applying for jobs and turned down interviews. The logical part of me was panicking, but I knew this was the right thing to do.
It’s a cold, gray morning and I’ve just put the baby down for his nap. I’m sitting in my favorite chair in the sunroom watching the rain fall and sipping the cup of coffee I’ve been thinking about since I woke up two hours ago. It’s quiet and peaceful, and I think for a moment about opening up my bible and praying. But before I know it, I’ve got my phone in hand as I scroll through my Instagram feed, curious about what I’ve missed since last night. This is the story of so many mornings, and although I hate to admit it, I’ve wasted far too many nap times in the last 7 months.
I am a 25 year-old stay-at-home mom living on a quiet 2 acre lot in the suburbs. Our sweet son arrived less than a year into our marriage and turned our world upside down (as new babies have a way of doing). Most of my close friends are unmarried and without kids, working normal 9-to-5 jobs and going out on the weekends; and although I graduated from college with them just two years ago, I feel more like a decade removed. I can’t remember the last time I went out to dinner with my girlfriends, or spent the afternoon in a cozy coffee shop with a good book. Despite that, however, I am living the life I always wanted as a young wife and mother, blazing a new trail that I am learning to navigate day by day. I chose a clear path right out of college that is transforming my heart as I am constantly refined by love. But, though I love my particular vocation, my life at 25 is not “the norm.”
For me, feeling connected to the “outside world” and staying in the know is important. I want to keep up with my friends who are living entirely different lifestyles than me. I want to be engaged in social discussions and aware of cultural trends and patterns. I want to feel connected to my peers who are living different vocations just as I want to feel connected to my few friends who are also young mothers.
In my experience, social media can often be that bridge. It feels relevant, current, new. It can make me feel less isolated and provides a level of interaction with other people that I can appreciate as someone who is chained to her house most of the day for consistent nap times—which, by the way, often means 5+ hours of alone time each day (a gift and a cross).
With my seven-months-pregnant belly leading the way, I headed into first day of level one Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training one muggy, Chicago summer day. The week that followed was thoughtful, “wonder”-full, and everything I hoped it’d be. I expected to have a deeper understanding of the child. I expected to have a more profound sense of the liturgy. I expected to be challenged to see the catechetical task differently. What I didn’t expect is how the friendships formed during our training opened up my heart to see motherhood in a new way.
Our group of trainees came from all walks of life: mothers, grandmothers, single missionaries, teachers, stay-at-home moms, parish catechists. One woman, who I’ll call Debbie, is about sixty, and, at the time, was about to start her job as principal at a new school in the fall. I couldn’t help but wonder how this came to be. At sixty, I expect most people to begin considering retirement, especially from an all-consuming field like education. “I’m a mom to four children, proud grandmother, and have been teaching for over thirty years,” she told me. “This is where I’m being called now, though. It’s a strange thing. I’ve never had this type of role before, but I’m of the mind that as women, we have to look at life seasonally, and never have too firm an idea of what a season will look like.”
This is where I’m being called now, though.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I never know what to say or feel when people mention this. I have had two miscarriages, and I still grieve them both, but I don’t know how to talk about them in public – or even if I want to. Those who have lost babies before they are born live in a strange middle ground: are we parents or are we not? Are we allowed to stand for the Mother’s Day blessing at church? Is it worth explaining to near strangers that I have three children on earth and two in heaven, or should I just answer “three” because I know that that’s what they’re really asking? Am I allowed to talk about the babies who were never born?
One aspect of pregnancy loss that surprised me is how intensely personal it is. Before losing my babies, I thought I would be the kind of woman who would speak of something like that openly without fear and without shame – as if women who do not speak of it keep silent because of fear or shame. But I quickly learned that, for me, fear and shame have nothing to do with my silence. If I seldom speak of my losses publicly, it’s because the grief is more personal than I ever expected it be, partly because, unlike the loss of a grandparent, for example, most people don’t have a context for it. Most people simply do not know what it feels like to lose a child. How do you explain that you are a mother when no one else can see that?
My husband and I were avoiding pregnancy after our wedding while we worked on an interstate move and settling into new jobs. But we were open to life, and looking forward to tangibly welcoming life by way of a squishy little bundle of baby chub in short order.
We were prepared for it to take time – I was diagnosed with PCOS in high school, and years of charting my cycles for health awareness revealed a litany of reproductive health concerns that hadn’t responded to treatment thus far. Cycle after cycle led to a week of extreme cramping and a glass or three of red wine while picking fights over Downton Abbey or the gender wage gap instead of gleefully researching how to raise a kid in an urban studio apartment. After a year, we weren’t alarmed by this, just resigned that my ovaries hadn’t magically healed themselves (surprise) and we would have to pursue fertility-specific medical intervention after all.
Six months later, a few days before leaving to visit family, I peed on – a lot – of sticks, not wanting to let myself believe that I really was seeing a second line.
We were pregnant.
That life had arrived.
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.
Read the original question here.
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?