The first time I experienced the terror and uncertainty of a “reduction in force,” I was on a short break away from my desk when I got a frantic text from a coworker. “Joe is gone,” it read. “Sandy is gone, Joe is gone, and I think they just called James from his office.” My stomach dropped. My palms were sweaty. Facing cutbacks is never easy, and until this point our department had remained relatively untouched. The afternoon wore on, and the cuts kept coming. In those fearful moments, I stayed relatively calm. I prayed that I might keep my job, but that if God had different plans for me, I was on board. Like, literally on board. I visualized myself in the boat with Our Lord, who has authority over the wind and the waves and the storms of our lives. I saw myself riding out the storm with Him at the helm, no matter what. Practically speaking, I also packed up my office, just in case. Continue reading
I sat in his office, my body wracked with sobs. I went through quite a bit of Kleenex. Thankfully, he had a whole box. I couldn’t speak very clearly through my tears. Emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally – I felt like I was drowning. My husband and I weren’t communicating well. Someone I knew was about to make a choice that terrible for her soul. A fallen-away Catholic, she also put me in the incredibly uncomfortable position of explaining to her non-Catholic spouse exactly why it was considered sinful, and now they were both angry with me. My sister was in nursing school and was struggling to get good sleep and good nutrition. Her health has always been a challenge, so this was a lot for her body to go through. My brother was in his sophomore year of college, and still struggling to adjust to college life. Another brother was going through teenage challenges. My life at work was difficult due to a lack of direction and poor communication. I was a wreck, and I knew it, so I’d finally made an appointment with my pastor. Which brings me back to the sobbing.
Maybe, just maybe, God calls mothers to different stations in life for the benefit of their souls. Maybe I benefit from working outside the home because God know it’s the best way for me to provide for my family since I have more earning potential than my husband. Maybe it would be a temptation to spiritual pride if I was a SAHM (pretty sure it would be. Like 100% sure, because I know me…) Maybe the searing pain I felt for the vast majority of my working years – the anger and jealousy that I couldn’t stay home with my newborns – gave birth to an understanding between me and God that I was squandering the opportunity He was giving me to embrace where He has me “right now,” versus pining over what I thought was best for me, at the time. I slammed the door to holiness in His face, every day, as the opportunity for embracing my Cross of being a working mom was wasted. I spent many years being angry, bitter, and sad. In part, it was resentment that my husband couldn’t find better work, so it made me angry and resentful towards him. In that respect, it drove a wedge into our marriage. In part, it was because I kept reading on the internet (usually in the swampy muckiness of the comboxes) that anything but being a SAHM would irreparably harm not only my soul, but the souls of my kids.
The more I experience life as a wife, mother, sister, friend, and professional, the more I realize I’m clueless. Really clueless. As in, everything I thought I knew – and I thought I knew a lot – is challenged on a daily basis and I rediscover, for the umpteenth time, that when it comes to life experience, I’m a noob.
Growing up, I was the kid that wanted to sit with the adults and talk while my cousins rolled down hillsides and played with bubbles outside. I’ve long preferred the company of older, wiser adults to the company of peers. Even as an adult, I gravitate towards reading blogs and following social media streams of wives and moms who are older than me and further along their paths of marriage and family. I love to see their challenges and learn how they have grown from them, emotionally and spiritually. To see how they have navigated life crises and struggles, and hopefully learn from them as I encounter similiar waters in the not-so-distant future.
When I was growing up, CBS Sunday Morning was just as much a part of, well, Sunday Morning, as was attending Sunday Mass at St. Mary’s. Our routine consisted of Daddy frying bacon and eggs, mama nursing the most recent baby sibling, and CBS Sunday Morning on in the background. I’ve always loved the program, with its focus on art and entertainment, but also for its features on quirky people, places, occupations, and cultural traditions. The producers and reporters tell the stories well, and most of them are as uplifting as they are fascinating.
As a grown up, my own family rarely has the TV on when Sunday morning rolls around. We typically go to an early Mass followed by CCE, so the program is long over by the time we make it home. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve watched it in the past five years. Sadly, it’s faded from my Sundays. This morning, though, we slept a little late and decided to go to a later Mass today. Since I’m out of the habit of watching, it was 8:45am by the time I remembered it was airing. For fun and nostalgia, I flipped on the tube to watch the last 15 minutes. I was not disappointed.