At 35 years old, I became a mom for the first time, and things haven’t gone at all as planned.
When I was a little girl, toting my baby dolls around and imagining how life would be as a mother, my reveries were traditional: mommy stays home to nurture and raise baby; daddy packs his briefcase and goes to work in the morning, returning in the evening. This is what I saw in my own home while growing up, and so it made sense to my young self.
The story of our family has gone differently. After nearly 15 years in the workforce — particularly in a job that is more vocation and less career — full-time motherhood at home wasn’t an option for us, as is the case for so many other women. We have been blessed, however, to have my husband be able to stay home with our son. I wouldn’t be writing honestly, diary, if I did not say that this was not met with trepidation on both sides. Not only had I always imagined that I would stay home, but my husband, too, had never imagined he would be working inside the home as our child’s primary caregiver. But practicalities and prayer dictated that, even though we had both pictured this phase of our lives differently, we were to put aside personal preferences and say “yes” to this gift that God was offering us.
And, despite our mutual anxieties, it truly has been a gift. While spending the days away from home hasn’t been the easiest decision for a new mom, it has given my husband and my son the opportunity to bond in a way that has been life-giving (and love-giving!) for all of us. Our son adores his father. He watches his every move. He laughs easily and quickly with him. And his father adores our son. Watching the two of them together, witnessing this unique bond that I pray will last a lifetime, fills me with joy. It fills me with gratitude. It fills me with love.
Sometimes, life doesn’t go as planned. But, thankfully, we have a loving God who tells us that’s OK — that that’s how it’s supposed to be. By dying on the cross, God taught us the great gift of sacrificial love. He taught us that life is about more than what we, as individuals, might dictate for ourselves. His greatest act of love shows us the path of true love, which is found in submitting to his beautiful will — even, and especially, when it may not be our own.
As I continue in these early days of full-time outside-the-home worker and full-time mommy, I am grateful for this lesson in learning how to love more deeply.
Gretchen Crowe is the editor-in-chief of Our Sunday Visitor’s periodicals.