OK…so that is a long-running Cajun joke, probably only told in these parts of the world! But with so much happening in the world right now, I do begin to wonder if being lonely, being misunderstood, being ridiculed, being treated without dignity first…I think that must be the worst place to be in this world right now.
A very lonely place for a mother to be is misunderstood.
There are times in my life when I feel so misunderstood.
I’m stuck sometimes in a world of misunderstood. At times, I feel judgment and ridicule from the faith community of committed Catholic women. If I had it all together – maybe with a little more faith – if I was living the lifestyle of a true Catholic momma – and just trusting Christ a little bit more – wouldn’t that mean I could stay at home and take care of our 5 children?
One time, a friend of mine – meaning no harm at all – said to me, “Why are you paying others to raise your kids? God would want you to stay at home and raise them yourself.”
Humble pie eaten, thank you.
On the other hand, as a working Catholic momma, I don’t always feel understood at work. Some have questioned why I have not progressed in my career. When I offer that I am right where I need to be, and that I value where I am on the ladder of career success, I get strange looks, eye rolls, or immense SILENCE. See, in my world, women take the workforce by storm, postpone family, make choices that are for their career success without taking into consideration other components of their lives.
I eye roll back to you, mam!
The pressure a working Catholic momma experiences can be so uncomfortable. Even this, I am convinced, is meant to teach us virtue, serving as an example in both the home and work place.
For example, the two examples above taught me extreme patience and ardent charity. My first instincts were not kind. But in the moments of feeling misunderstood as a working Catholic momma, I get to build virtue muscle!
Over the past few years, my ministry has focused on the blog, “The Working Catholic Mom.” Something amazing has happened in that ministry.
I HAVE BEEN CHANGED.
I have truly embraced what it means to be a working Catholic mom. I understand the Lord is calling me to utilize the gifts and talents He has given me to come to bear both at home and at work. He has never asked me to split myself in two. He’s asked me to be faithful to what He has called me to do, which includes my work.
And guess what?
Those moments of being misunderstood, those tense moments of awkward comments, those times when either side of the coin basically tell me that I have it all wrong – Well, those times just don’t bother me any more. I made a conscious decision to drop the guilt, which is not of God, and embrace all He has in store for who I am, right now, which happens to include working outside of the home.
I have also stopped using energy to solve the issue of, “Why can’t I stay home like all the other faith-filled Catholic moms?”
Instead, I’ve found community with other faith-filled working Catholic moms. I’ve found women saints who worked outside of the home. I’ve read papal documents and parts of the catechism that direct my soul towards accepting where I am in life right now. The online community was a great way to launch The Working Catholic Mom ministry, and I’ve heard from other women who have begun to embrace their role in the workforce, without feeling as if they had to feel like less of a mom.
We come in all shapes and sizes. We have different work environments. We have a plethora of ministry talents. We bring all we are to the work world, and also at home. Some of us work outside of the home; some of us have home-based businesses – some of us do both.
But what I’ve noted? Faith. Faith. Faith.
All of us have our first vocation, that of wife and particularly mother at the forefront: biological and spiritual motherhood. This keeps us integrated in the work place as a faith-filled working Catholic mom.
Here are some things to ponder as you continue on your path to holiness:
- If you work outside of the home, what is your attitude about that work? Does that work make a difference? Do you approach that work in an integrated sort of way: as a woman of faith? If you could change something in your situation to be more integrated, what would you change? How would that change your outlook?
- If you have struggled with guilt about working outside of the home, begin paying attention to a few women saints who give us an example: St. Gianna Molla and St. Monica. Pay attention to Proverbs 31. I was under the assumption for many years that the perfect wife and mother stayed home, but re-read Proverbs 31. She was a working momma. She teaches us virtue, especially providing for her family as a joy, not a drudgery.
- Consider the following statement from our beloved St. John Paul II in his Letter to Women: “Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life- social, economic, cultural, artistic, and political. In this way, you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of “mystery,” to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity.” He goes on to praise women for what they have contributed in history, saying furthermore: “Yet how many women have been and continue to be valued more for their physical appearance than for their skill, their professionalism, their intellectual abilities, their deep sensitivity; in a word, the very dignity of their being!” And, to me, his huge statement in the document: “Women will increasingly play a part in the solution of the serious problems of the future: leisure time, the quality of life, migration, social services, euthanasia, drugs, health care, the ecology, etc.” He is saying we need women in all areas of life. We need their feminine genius – created in the image of a loving God – to play a part in society – both in our biological motherhood, as well as our spiritual motherhood. I feel challenged and called, particularly in my motherhood. I also sense a higher calling in my work life.
- Pray for acceptance. Pray for peace. Pray for guidance. Ask Our Lord to give you the desire to accept your work situation. Then, work towards a fulfilled vocation, which includes your work life.
- What does your afternoon or free time look like? Are you able to spend quality and quantity time with each child? What does that time look like? What sacrifices are you making in order to fulfill your call at this moment as a working Catholic mom (i.e. sacrificing screen time, TV, etc.)?
My heart still rests at peace when I think of caring for my babies. I know that one day, the Lord will call me home. Perhaps it will be as a grandmother to help care for the grandbabies. Perhaps not. I do know that He is keeping me right where I am in the work world right now. I choose to use those God-given talents and gifts to influence where I am right now. I know that means both at home and in the work world. I have found peace. I have found it isn’t so lonely. I have found Him whom my heart longs for.
Peace of Christ to you and yours,
Copyright 2014 Mary Wallace
About the Author
Mary Wallace, PhD, is a devout Catholic wife, mother of 4 daughters, and college administrator. She is co-host of a Catholic radio show: Faith and Good Counsel, on Baton Rouge Catholic Community Radio. Mary is also a contributing writer at the Integrated Catholic Life. Follow Mary on Facebook.