With wisdom from Pope John Paul II, Taryn Oesch DeLong reflects on the importance of the role of the mother.
For most of my childhood, my mother did not work outside the home. She called herself a stay-at-home mom, and I never for a moment doubted that she loved being at home with us. I also always admired her for taking a break from a teaching career that she loved because she felt the best place for her was at home.
When I left my full-time job two weeks before my due date, I was so excited. In those two weeks and two days before my daughter was born, I never once questioned my husband’s and my decision for me to stay home. I couldn’t wait to meet our baby, and I was so excited to be home with her.
Why, then, did I spend the first six months of her life resisting the use of that term—“stay-at-home mom”—to describe myself? Why, when I told people that I stayed home with my daughter, did I rush to add, “and I freelance, too!”? It’s true; I do freelance. But most of my time is spent caring for my daughter or for the home we share with my husband. So, why didn’t I want to talk as if that were the case?
The Most Extraordinary Thing
Like many people, I’ve always wanted to change the world—to do something big, preferably to write a bestselling book that changes the hearts of millions of people. I’ve never been content with small actions. My childhood hero was Mother Teresa (now St. Teresa of Calcutta)—but it never fully sank in that she changed the world by not setting out to change the world. Her philosophy was to love the person in front of her, one person at a time.
Doesn’t that just describe motherhood to a T? I’m not called, at least at this stage in my life, to change the lives of a multitude of people. Instead, I’m called to love my husband, to be a part of his life. I’m called to love my daughter, to help her create a life. It’s so mundane—and it’s so beautiful. As a quote commonly attributed to G.K. Chesterton goes, “The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.”
Raising the Royal Priesthood
For any stay-at-home mom who’s feeling inadequate, I encourage you to open up Pope St. John Paul II’s Mulieris Dignitatem: The Dignity and Vocation of Women. It’s written about all women—women who are spiritual mothers and women who are also physical mothers, moms who work outside the home and moms who do not—but it will inspire you in your particular call to stay home with your child or children.
Toward the end of the apostolic letter, John Paul II writes,
If the human being is entrusted by God to women in a particular way, does not this mean that Christ looks to them for the accomplishment of the "royal priesthood" (1 Pt 2:9), which is the treasure he has given to every individual? (Mulieris Dignitatem)
Now, God entrusts the human being to all women, not just mothers. And, all people are called to “[accomplish] the royal priesthood.” But consider how literally we, as mothers, carry out this great task!
My work as a stay-at-home mom is not glamorous. Most days, my sleeves are wet with drool, and my hair is in a messy bun to keep it from being pulled out. It’s a far cry from the dresses I used to wear on business trips and at conferences. But, I have been given, “in a particular way,” the responsibility of raising a child for the royal priesthood, that universal priesthood we, as Catholics, all belong to. God gave me His beloved daughter to raise as my own. And, at least at this time in my life, he has called me to leave full-time employment to be with her during the day. I spend my days raising a child of God. I am a mother.
I should be shouting that job title from the rooftops.
Copyright 2022 Taryn Oesch DeLong
Images: Canva Pro
About the Author
Taryn Oesch DeLong is a Catholic wife and mother who encourages women to live out their feminine genius as co-president of Catholic Women in Business, a FEMM fertility awareness instructor, and a contributor to publications for Catholic women. Connect with her on Instagram or her website, Everyday Roses.