Saturday, October 19, 2013
I cannot sleep, therefore, I write.
I had a bit of a self-discovery two days ago at a mom's group I attend. We all introduced ourselves to the moderator we'd invited to facilitate and lead reflection and discussion on a video series.
As we went around the room, a familiar pattern began to emerge. Almost every woman began with her name, her current or former career (teacher, journalist,dietitian, engineer, accountant) and how many children she had. Sitting in that room, were an array of talents, qualities and ways of life, united by the fact that we are all Catholic moms.
As my turn came closer, I began to question something in the way I planned to introduce myself. I didn't have a "current or former career". I was a student until I finished my degree a few months ago, almost simultaneously finding out about my third pregnancy. I planned on saying that after my name. Then I stopped myself, thinking, "Right now, I'm a stay-at-home mom, that is what I do. It doesn't really matter to me at this moment that I may have been a journalist or that I've completed a degree. But will I say that?"
My turn came up and I nervously said my name, how many kids I have, and then the need to validate what I do aside from family care and housework bubbled up in me.
I said, "...and I do lots of things. I was a student before and during becoming a mom, and recently finished my degree in communications; now I write from home a little bit, and I also help my husband run his business, doing his admin work and paying bills and such."
Why? It's all true, but ever since, I've questioned my inability to say, "I'm a stay-at-home mom." That is my primary role. The title encompasses what I spend my days "working at". Why did I feel ashamed of that amidst all of these lovely Catholic women - all of whom are currently doing the same thing as I am, hence their attendance at a mid-morning mom's group?
I've mulled this over and have come to a conclusion. I was afraid of appearing to be stupid, simple, inexperienced, uneducated or lazy. I compensated by highlighting some aspects of my life that are more important-sounding than mothering and housework. I feared judgement and went on the defensive, wanting my life to sound more meaningful in the face of careers and societal demands that we as women "do something." As if raising a family isn't "something."
It made me a little bit angry and sad to have the need to define myself by the things I do. It showed me how insecure I am. When the careers started following the names, something in me burned for a second, saying, "I am not the sum of my accomplishments. I am more than what I 'do', and for that matter, so is everyone else in this room."
I pictured us all standing before God being asked what we did with the lives He gave us.
"I'm a doctor/lawyer/journalist," we answered.
And God said, "Yes. But what have you done?"
It doesn't matter what career I have if I am not walking toward God.
I lost focus of that when fear and pride entered my little soul. Like the little girl, wanting all the other girls to like me, I caved to what is ultimately a worldly standard.
Yet, my life is full and wonderful. It is filled with ways to experience God's grace. It is filled with ways to become better, and with the freedom to walk the path of holiness.
I have no boss to answer to, no clients, no meetings to attend.
It is me and God and my husband and kids living a seemingly small existence.
When it comes down to it, I shouldn't need to defend my little life, especially in a circle of Catholic moms. I know in the end that as long as I am all that I can be, what I do will be valued and important, even if nobody but God sees it.
Next time, I hope I am brave and humble enough to just say it: Stay-at-home-mom.
Next time I hope I forget about needing a false sense of accomplishment, and keep my eyes on the prize, because even if I am a little person with little ways, I can, as St. Paul says, "do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)
And that is certainly something.