Over the past few weeks, as I’ve tossed around the idea of starting a blog, so many people have been encouraging and supportive. It’s meant so much to me to see the faith people have in me as a mom, as a woman with a voice, and the interest they appear to have in what I have to say. But several times I was presented with questions like “Why do you want to blog again?” or “What exactly do you want to write about?” or “Why are you doing this now?” I really appreciate those questions because they made me pause and consider before just jumping in the deep end of the blogosphere. Soooo…. Why this blog? And why now?
Here ya go!
Long ago and far away, I was a teacher. I taught 1st grade for one year, 4th grade for three years, and then spent a semester as a resource teacher and taught 6th grade religion class. I spent four and a half years in a school that I loved doing a job that I loved. For two of those years, I was a working mom. It was difficult, but rewarding. Our son went to an excellent in-home day care where a wonderful woman named Della loved him while I was at work caring for other people’s children. In December of 2003, though, I left that life. Greg had graduated from University of Arizona with his PhD in Optical Sciences and we were leaving Tucson for Jacksonville, FL. I was finally going to get to stay home with my baby boy like I had always wanted.
Fast forward to present day… I have now been a stay at home mom (SAHM) with an ever-growing brood of kiddos under my care for 13 years, 5 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days. Give or take a few days, depending on whether or not I remember the exact day I walked out of my classroom at Immaculate Heart School.
Let’s put that in perspective, shall we? Since I’m not a math whiz, I’m going to do some rounding, but you’ll get the idea. I am this close to turning 40, so we’re going with that. If I am 40 years old and I taught school for 4.5 years, I was a teacher for about 11% of my life. I spent 2 of those years as a working mom, which would equal approximately 5% of my life. If I’ve been a SAHM for 13.5 years, that means this phase has covered about 34% of my life!
Let’s just say that 34% of my life feels like a long, long time. And, funny enough, it feels only about as long as a minute. Up until last August, I always had a child at home. Sure, they might have gone to preschool a couple of mornings a week, but for the most part, my days were arranged around feedings and naps and preschool in between dropping off and picking the big ones up from school. Then, on August 17, 2016, the inevitable happened.
It was the first day of school. Our oldest started high school. Our second started middle school. The biggest girl went into the 3rd grade. And the littlest bit, our youngest, our Lucy…walked into all-day kindergarten and didn’t look back.
I left the drop-off line that morning and my minivan was empty.
What was I going to do?!
Who was I now that I didn’t constantly have kids underfoot to occupy my time and define who and what I was?
For the first time in 13 years, I was going to be by myself for several hours a day, 5 days a week.
And while I loved my newfound “freedom” (freedom that still bent to the will of sick kids, volunteer commitments, forgotten lunches, etc, etc), it took me a good couple of months to get with the new program. I figured out how to better manage my time. I learned that I needed to get just about everything done before 3:00 in the afternoon because once those kids got home from school, the busiest part of my day would only just begin.
Then I realized something. I realized that I was feeling a pull. A longing for something a little different. There was no way I was ready to “go back to work” again. A full-time job for me was not what our family needed or wanted at this point. But what did I need? What did I want? That’s when I started to ask God for some direction. What could I do?
March 2017 arrived and with it, the season of Lent. My friend, Monique, was going to be leading a book study at church about a book called Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly. I have loved the studies I’ve done with Monique in the past and Matthew Kelly is a very engaging, uplifting writer, so I jumped at the chance. We met every Thursday during Lent. It was a delightful group of women from all different walks of life…moms just like me, grandmas, retired women, widows, empty nested mamas, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. It was truly the highlight of my week.
As we read and discussed, an idea began to form. Then, we came to these passages in Chapter 32:
You are the perfect mix of talents and abilities to fulfill the mission that God has in mind for you. There is no point worrying about what talents and abilities other people have. If you don’t have them, you don’t need them for your mission.
God wants to move you beyond all these bad habits of the mind, body, and soul, and fill you with his grace and courage so that you can go out into the world and let your light shine.
Hmmmm. OK, Lord. You’ve got my attention. Then came Chapter 33 – Made for Mission:
You were made for mission. You were created to serve powerfully. And you will never be truly happy until you find a way to lay down your life for others that engages you talents and abilities….What are your talents? What are you really good at? How is God calling you to make the world and the Church better through those talents?
I prayed, thought, pondered. And I kept feeling pulled.
My mission in this life, first and foremost, is to be a wife and mother. My job is to lay down my life for my family each and every single day. To let them know they are loved. To help them on their way to Heaven. Period.
But can we have more than one mission? Can there be more? I think the answer is yes.
The Solution…for now.
So, how could I use these talents I have? I’m pretty organized. I can cook and I know how to feed a crowd. I like to think about spiritual things, read about them, and share my thoughts. Teaching is my background, so I like to inform and encourage. I process information by writing it out. Could there be a way to synthesize my mission as wife and mom with all of that? There had to be!
As I pondered all of those quotes, prayed for guidance, and talked with those closest to me, I came to feel that blogging was the answer.
It’s something I can fit into my day as a mom. I can share what I know, foster community among other women, and maybe even help some people along the way.
Like I said at the beginning, I’m almost 40. New chapters of my life are going to come flying at me left and right over the next decade. Life will change in ways that I can’t even fathom yet. So, here’s a new challenge to get it all started, to chronicle how it all goes down.
I hope you’ll join me on the journey. I hope you’ll comment and that a wonderful, supportive, engaging community is given room to grow. Let’s do this life together, shall we?
Find a WELCOME here. Find some GRACE. And know that, in me, you’ve found a friend.