What if There Were no Working Moms?


Before you say it, I agree: there’s no such thing as a mom that doesn’t work. I’m all for moms that work, stay home, and those somewhere in between. —JDF

A few weeks ago, an article “Motherhood and the Call to Holiness” seemed to pop up on every website, blog and feed I visited. Here, Thomas McDonald shared examples of moms, who by and large planned to work after having children, yet came to further realize their vocation by staying home.

I have to admit articles like that can sting a bit. I think all moms experience some degree of mommy guilt, but with working moms it’s more of an epidemic. recent survey found 66% of moms would rather stay home than work. On the flip side, through my own completely unofficial research [i.e. chatting with other moms], I know there are also stay-at-home moms who would like to work; it’s just not conducive to their family life right now.

I’m a pretty good example of someone who was caught off-guard by how much motherhood would change my professional plans. Before our oldest was born in 2003, I worked in the investment industry [40+ hours a week] and I figured I’d be perfectly OK dropping Quinn off at a nearby daycare center fives days a week.

After spending the first week back on the job in tears, I realized it wasn’t that clear cut. I struggled with handing my son off to spend the day with “Miss Jennifer” and “Miss Gwen,” as lovely as they were. I ended up quitting my job and returning to a previous employer, working two days a week, and found an amazing in-home childcare provider. This was our M.O. for about four years.

For the last 3 1/2 years I’ve worked full-time, Monday-Thursday and some weekends, in my job with the Archdiocese of Denver. [More about how that happened here, if you’re interested.]

In making decisions to work or not to work, parents weigh the relevant factors and prioritize based on their circumstances. Mothers sacrifice by working, not working, scrambling, juggling, and otherwise coordinating—all in the name of their top priority: their family.

With that said, back to “Motherhood and the Call to Holiness”—it’s a call that’s different, but no less significant, for everyone. In the spirit of the article, I’d like to share a few examples of working moms, who in responding to their call, share their maternal genius not only with their families, but with the working world as well:

My mom, sister and sister-in-law are nurses: in oncology, hospice, and neonatal intensive care. They have the extraordinary hearts and minds needed to care for the sick, the dying, and newborn babies struggling to survive. ‘Nuf said.

My other sister is a classroom paraprofessional and my mother-in-law was a grade-school teacher: workdays spent tirelessly and patiently preparing students for the future, God bless ‘em.

What about when it comes to the corporate working world?

I have a friend who is a controller for a large construction company. Motherhood has provided her with insight to see her employees and co-workers individually, separate from their abilities. She said it’s also taught her to work harder and smarter so she can spend as much time as possible with her family: a benefit not only to her family, but to the company and its employees.

Another friend works in training and systems for a major insurance company. Her maternal skills have helped her understand that everyone learns differently and needs support. “I teach and listen with more patience and empathy since I’ve become a mother… I’ve realized that learning is not black and white, there’s a lot of gray area.”

Gray area. There’s a lot of that in the world, especially when it comes to motherhood. But we navigate the haze the best we can, relying on God and each other. So moms, whether you work, stay home, or something in between: let’s be there to lift each other up in our vocations, and continue to model maternal love in all we do—at home *and* in the workplace:

“Our work—whatever it is—should become a means to pursue holiness for ourselves and for our families, and to model holiness to those around us.”

—Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., “Living the Catholic Faith,” p. 118


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  • Tarheel

    Excellent read. Working Mothers or Working Moms is a difficult moniker. Truly all moms work, whether at home or outside the home. And in both instances we know those moms feel guilt. My wife was able to go back to work when both of our son’s were small because her mom lived with us. But she missed those times with her sons. There are some benefits for stay-at-home moms. Especially when children are school age. Just how many children today are considered “latch key” kids because when they come home from school the house is empty?

    And in today’s economy it is hard for one parent to be at home when their kids do come in from school. I know some families try to do this with shift work, but that creates other problems too. And not all families can afford after school day care. I know of a few families where one parent’s pay check about 70% of it is used to pay for day care and after school day care. And without that “extra” 30% each week they would have trouble making ends meet. Yes we could debate about them changing their living standards and cutting back or whatever. But how do we know they haven’t? So why not make some changes in our tax code to “reward” stay-at-home parents. And this is really aimed towards those families that struggle financially. Have one parent be declared as stay-at-home parent for tax purposes. And then allow on the tax return they are declared on allow the first $21,000.00 earned to be tax exempt.

  • Warren Jewell

    Maybe, it is high time for various groups – some aged-retired here, families there – to move into distributist modes. Hence, a small group of elderly move in together for various nice scales of economy, but also permit one or another to easily take time to travel to family out and about for a few weeks at a time. And what of families?

    I don’t see such combines as cooperatives as conventual connections; like minds with like goals getting together more closely and effectively, and efficiently. In a family distributist convent, for great example, the Moms who want work and have lively and productive work careers can leave their kids with other adult Moms who are of similar philosophies, if not practices. The stay-at-home Moms can be compensated in a variety of ways, including for instance more time-off from raising kids than permitted in the traditional two-parent household. Each conventual grouping, of course, would make its own arrangements.

    But, there are reasons that perhaps all Moms be stay-at-home, permitted so by multiple Dad incomes that ease economics. The scales would be similar to any group getting together to pool resources for the whole. I present a cogent example why . . .

    My daughter has four kids – two in teen years by her first husband and two very recent additions with her second husband. Though it needs to be said that Hubby-#2 is a better father than #1, that Heléna is the common parent begs a stay-at-home stability to the household.

    This is a bright and active set of kids exemplified in Child-#3, Daughter-#2 and named Natalia and called Talli. Offering this as much to give you a laugh as a lesson as why Moms need to participate in exchanges (Heléna calls them ‘Talli-isms’) such as one very recent one, a Facebook post, between Mom and Talli. Co-star Frank-Frankie is the resident four-month-old, Son-#2:
    Talli-ism of the Day:
    *30 seconds after Frankie spits up all over my black shirt and I almost kill myself tripping over her tricycle in the middle of the kitchen floor while running to get paper towels*
    Talli: “Mom!”
    Me: “What?”
    Talli: “Mom!”
    Me: “What?!
    Talli: “Mom!”
    Me: “WHAT, TALLI?!?!?!??”
    Talli: “How was your day?”
    Me *through gritted teeth, after taking a very long deep breath*: “I’ve had better and I’ve had worse.”
    Talli: *looks at me expectantly*
    Me: *sigh* “How was yours?”
    Talli: “Mine was great too!”

    Moms, short of heaven you just can’t get it better than this. Make every effort to stay-at-home and be-at-home and not know whether to laugh or cry – ending up doing both – right then.