This reflection is a long time coming… two years and five months to be exact. On that day, I left the corporate world and started my journey as a stay-at-home mother and homemaker.
“Love and sacrifice are closely linked, like the sun and the light. We cannot love without suffering, and we cannot suffer without love.”
Ironically, this quote, which I find inspirational, was said by a working physician, wife, and mother, St. Giana.
I am not going to promote an opinion of stay at home vs. working parents. So many factors went into the discernment and decision for my husband and me. Also, I cannot begin to pretend to know what is right for every family situation. All I can speak to is what I discerned God was telling me and how I have grown from it these past years.
Since graduating from college in 2009 with a Bachelor of Business in Supply Chain Management, I have been incredibly blessed in my work. I have held several corporate jobs, never gone unemployed, received excellent benefits and bonuses, and at the age of 22, my gross annual income was greater than 100K. I do not say this to boast, but rather to give an accurate picture of what I struggled so hard to walk away from 8 years later when my daughter was born.
Control is often a reoccurring vice of mine. For as long as I can control my bank account, career, future, etc. I would be content. But, happiness does not come from this false sense of control. For many years, I have tried to control every aspect of my life, and I have found it takes my focus away from God and only leads me into anxiety and sin. Although money, benefits, responsibility, reliability are essential and realistic parts of society and adult life, I was not happy. I would leave for work in a bad mental place, come home with a bad attitude, and feel overwhelming guilt and anxiety hearing every day how my child did not sleep at daycare and was too needy for the daycare providers to handle.
Eventually, I reached my breaking point. The love and desire I had to be with my daughter these short years before school versus the sacrifice of two incomes won out. The decision was terrifying. Through spiritual direction, prayer, and conversations with my spouse, I decided to leave my income and stay home with my daughter. This was immediately a fight against cultural norms and even some of my own immediate family, telling me I should be doing otherwise. “God will provide”, became my constant prayer. I said this to myself daily and still do. I have never been let down. God has always provided in his own way, and often in ways that it has taken years for me to understand. I’ve struggled with other issues since being a full-time homemaker, and I still have stress in my life, of course. The evil one has put ideas into my head that I am a worthless member of society who does not contribute anything good for the community. But God has shown me this path, and motherhood has made me braver, so I say...
“As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
My love language is quality time. Thus, it is no surprise that all this time I am spending at home with my daughter and literally side by side with my husband in all his endeavors has been worth this and any other sacrifice that Christ will ask of me. So much angst and prayer went into this decision, but once it was made, my vision was clear, my heart was full, and my prayers uttered thanks every day for being able to live my vocation to the fullest. These consolations have helped me understand that I made the right decision, but not of my own accord. This choice now becomes a daily choice to serve my family as a homemaker. I can only bear this burden with the help of grace, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the example of the Holy Family, and a husband who supports me and provides in absolutely every way for our family. Grace is always available to us if we ask for it, and I see now that it has been present in my life so often.
Another quote from one of my favorite working mothers and mother of St. Thérèse of Lisieux:
“When we had our children, our ideas changed somewhat. We lived only for them. They were all our happiness and we never found any except in them. In short, nothing was too difficult and the world was no longer a burden for us. For me, our children were a great compensation, so I wanted to have a lot of them in order to raise them for Heaven.”
This is my invitation to you today: To serve the Lord by discerning his will for your life even if this conflicts with your vision of yourself, cultural norms, or family pressure. Give control of your life to our Lord and Master. If we allow him to change our hearts, then the world is no longer a burden.