As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Friday, March 21, 2014

What I Do

I had a moment about a month ago when it hit me - this is what I do. It was early morning, I had just finished dressing the baby and was still in pjs myself, trying to motivate my kids to get dressed and do their morning jobs, and thinking that I needed to make sure I threw in a load of laundry before the school day started.  For the first time in my ten years of marriage, when I weaned my baby (at sixteen months old) I was not expecting a new one. And it occurred to me that this is the most steady my life has been in a long time. For so long I had been in constant change-mode: baby on the way, mat leave, getting ready to go back to work, baby on the way, home again, work again, home for good, baby again!  Now however, I find myself in the unexpected place of being able to settle in just a little bit.  Not too much of course, because if there's one thing I know as a Mom it's that things are always changing.

Except when they're not.  And it causes me to reflect on the road that has brought me to this point in my life. Having been a working Mom for seven of the longest years of my life, I never have to live with the "what if's".  I never question whether I'd be happier working - I wouldn't be.  I never think that working Moms have it easier - they definitely don't.  And I never wonder if my skills could be put to better use outside the home, because I see the way they come to fulfilment right here. I have the unique ability to see also that the things I learned, the education I gained in university, the practical life experience I gained at work, is all completely and totally relevant to my life as a Mom.

I have a background in business.  Specifically, in Communications.  From the time I was 16 years old I've always had a job.  I worked through high school and university, and even through my first four babies.  I know what it's like to work hard, to do what you need to do to get things done.  To pull yourself out of bed in the morning and make things happen even when you'd rather not. That your "downtime" is not time to be squandered, but to be put to good use doing things that you can't do when you're "on the clock".  From fast-food to adventure tourism, to desk work, accepting or rejecting claims for workers' compensation, taking difficult phone calls, wishing I could do more for people, photocopying, design, writing, editing, licensing doctors and handling complaints, office cleaning and independant contracting, I've learned that I can love whatever I do, no matter how seamingly meaningless and unglamourous it is.  As a publications specialist at my longest-running (and most career-building job) I was responsible for upwards of fifty different publications at a time.  I kept spreadsheets with priority levels, details on each project, I coordinated with printers, internal and external stakeholders, designers and translators, all to make sure that each one got completed on time, with accuracy, and on budget.  I had high aspirations at one point, I felt the drive to move upwards, and then I left that job for one that allowed me to be home with my family more.

I have no regrets about my career path, because in laying it all out that way, I can see how each step prepared me for the life I'm living now.  I'm running a household of eight.  Managing the schedules of seven people (including myself but not including my husband, who is pretty good at managing his own schedule).  I homeschool the four oldest kids ages 5-9. I research curriculum, keep records, mark and test, and design fun and educational activities for them to do.  I plan our meals, and bake as many things as I can to offset our grocery budget.  I organize household tasks and make lists to organize which jobs I do, and which the kids do.  I make sure that we all work as a team to keep things running smoothly. I have internal and external stakeholders who all have different priorities, different demands - and I have learned that no job is too small or too meaningless - I can find joy in any job if I do my very best and put my whole heart into it.

Too often girls are encouraged to put family life on hold to chase after careers that somehow seem more prestigious than family life.  But I am living proof that saying, "no" to a job outside the home is not the same thing as saying, "no" to your skills, your passions, your desires, and your drive.  Because all of these things you posess are not conditional on your employment, they are a function of who you are - God-given gifts that have been nurtured and developed inside you, not inside a corporation.  And that maybe by putting them to use in our vocations, for the direct benefit of our families instead of our bosses, we become more ourselves.  I'm not knocking working mothers - I have walked many miles in your shoes, and could not have more respect for you or what you do.  I know it's the hardest thing you will ever do - it certainly was for me. But I think that our gifts have a place in the home too, are not wasted if we walk away from all of that.  We bring everything we are, all the skills we've learned and experience we've acquired, home to our families and into our households.  And in that way, we find true fulfillment no matter how small or grand the tasks.  Because our identities are not tied up in what we do, but in who we are.


  1. Lovely!!
    Such an introspective post, Natasha....I'm so very happy that I clicked over from the CWBN fb group and really appreciate your visit to my blog today as well....

    Looking fwd to reading more of your posts!

  2. Wonderful - I'm in the middle of those "working mom" years (we're soo close to being at a point where I can be 50% time it's driving me crazy). I received a degree in theatre which I did use for awhile professionally, but I too feel like it prepared me for my current job and vocation and has actual helped me balance those the best I can. Definitely not a waste even if I'm not using it in a "Career".

  3. This was a great reminder to me. I need to remember where my priorities are? I have had many jobs in my life and none have fulfilled me the way being a mom does. I know being at home is where God wants me. Sometimes, because we are always struggling, I wonder what I can do to make $$$ but I know it will have to be while home with my babies. Again thanks for the reminder.