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Full-Time Mother: My Decision Of Vocation

August 28, AD2015

mary, jesus, cross, marian, altar

I have recently taken the plunge of quitting my job and officially becoming a full-time mother. This might sound cliché on these circles of Catholic blogs, but for me, especially living in Portugal, it is outrageous. While about 29% of mothers stay at home in the USA, only 6.3% do so in Europe. Plus, Portugal has the lowest birth rate in Europe.

The Catholic Church is wonderfully diverse in the way people live their vocations. Whether to work outside the home or not is up to the woman, and both options are considered equally wonderful. There are working mom saints and “stay-at-home mom” saints. Yet in this anti-motherhood culture, the right to stay at home should be not only valued but defended.

Furthermore, the mentality which honors women more for their work outside the home than for their work within the family must be overcome. This requires that men should truly esteem and love women with total respect for their personal dignity, and that society should create and develop conditions favoring work in the home. (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio: On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World, n. 23)

I had never seriously considered staying at home, but right when I found out I was pregnant I felt torn. I couldn’t imagine leaving my baby at day care all day or even at her grandparents’.

For her first year, I worked part-time as a teacher in the afternoon. It seemed like the perfect option: my bosses were incredibly professional and appreciative, they were flexible with me in terms of hours, I was good at what I was doing, my students liked me, and my in-laws were more than willing to take care of my daughter. Yet I was not at peace.

Our Lady homemaker

             Statue of Our Lady Homemaker

I was running around trying to do a million things on tight schedules. I didn’t want to delegate anything: the cleaning, the cooking and, most importantly, the raising of my child. I wanted to be available to talk to her, take her to the park, sing her songs. I wanted to give her a bath, make her soup, teach her things. I wanted to do these things and nothing else I was doing instead seemed as if it could even compare.

Do you need a job to be happy? I don’t think so. I think being a mother and a homemaker is the biggest, best j
ob there is and the best contribution to society. I have many other talents, some of which aren’t being used at this moment. However, our talents make us happy when they are put at the service of others.

Caring for others is our call as Christians and our path to love, no matter how small or obscure that care may be. “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25: 35-36).

Being a mother and homemaker is not something rewarded with a pay check, valued on your resume or a guaranteed success (maybe your kids and family won’t turn out so great…?). It is a selfless job, and we need more of that testimony in the world.

“Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centred individualism” (Pope Francis’s audience on mothers). It is an investment in building a family and a home, which both point to our final call. We were created to be part of God’s family, and our eternal home in Heaven.

Life is too short. Babies grow up too fast. Too short and too fast to do what others think we should do or live another person’s life. I want to pursue happiness, holiness and family.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Julie Machado is a 30-year-old Portuguese-American who grew up in California, but moved to Portugal to study theology. She now lives there, along with the rest of her family, her husband and her children. She believes the greatest things in life are small and hidden and that the extraordinary is in the ordinary. She blogs at Marta, Julie e Maria.

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  • Helena Atalaia

    I loved to read it! Congratulations for the decision.

    • J. Jones

      Good Luck to you, Helena, with your decision. I realize my comment was very long, but I was just hoping someone like you might read it and take the time to consider how important motherhood is and how our children pay the price for the decisions we make. Let prayer guide you, and you will be happy and feel right with your decision. Blessings to you!!

  • J. Jones

    What a fantastic decision you made, Julie!! I made the same decision, and left a career as a psychologist for my children. Even after having spent years in graduate school and building a career, I knew that the bonding that occurs between a baby and a mother is something that can NOT and should never be replaced, and cannot be delegated to others without severe changes and wounds in the developing baby’s mind and soul. We are called as Catholic women to honor motherhood above all other roles and endeavors. Catholic men are also called to honor motherhood in the same way. Daycare is systematically destroying the psychological development and attachment processes of all babies and toddlers who spend time there. Many, many, many studies (which are hidden from the public) have proven that the levels of cortisol sky-rocket in babies and toddlers who are dropped off at daycares, and the more hours spent in that environment, the more permanent damage occurs to their developing brains and personalities. So many studies have proven this, and they are so afraid to releasse these finding that the secular media shelves them. We wonder why we have a generation of youth who act out in violence, who are incredibly emotionally insecure, who are more addicted than any generation prior, who have personality disorders in vast, vats numbers compared to previous generations. They are the first and second generations of kids who have not been raised by their own mothers during those critical fist years of psychological development. There is no going back to fix it later, either. Once the brain and personality along with emotional traumas have developed they are set. The job of mothering, QUANTITY time, not the bogus quality time, is the most sacred job on earth. It should be revered and supported by all cultures, all families, all governments, and this earth would be a different place. Undeniably, it can be hard, and most modern cultures do not agree with moms who choose to stay at home full time. We get a ton of flack and snooty judgment. But imagine, if you could sit down with Mary, one on one, and ask her advice…..any one of us, Protestants alike, would have to admit, in their heart of hearts, that Mary, as the most profound Mother ever to have lived, the most sacred person to ever have lived, would tell every one of us that staying home and raising your children is not only a Sacred job, but a Sacred requirement. While trying to fight for women rights and power in our culture, we have inadvertently destroyed our children, allowed our babies to be neglected and abused by prevented them from the sacred daily and hourly bonding, the flow of minute by minute love, the sanctity and security of a home environment where mom is always present, teaching, guiding, loving, and providing a safe, nurturing space. Even in the mundane, day to day, chores and routines, this sacred space is created by our presence at home and being held and secured so that our children feel safe and protected to grow and learn and make mistakes and play and just hang out. It is a sacred realm our presence create, and it cannot be replicated anywhere else or by other people. Form a perspective of not only Spirituality, but from every psychology premise, children’s personalities (and souls) are permanently assaulted by a lack of a loving and constant bond and daily life with the primary caregiver in their own home. Every study from decades of research proves this. And our Blessed Mother would tell us that we do not need studies to prove what we already know in our hearts. We just need to have the courage to live in a way that society from upon, to stand up to, or ignore the judgments, and to support one another in this sacred decision.

    • Helena Atalaia

      Thank you so much for the comment J. Jones. I have nearly my decision and after a career there are some different emotions in the time to decide. Especially in a country (Portugal) that is a no-sense decision for most of the people. But my heart is guiding me to the right way 😉

  • Julie Machado

    Thanks JoAnna and Lindsay… I loved hearing about your experiences!

  • Lindsay

    After three years (not consecutive) off with each of my babies, I can safely say that I could NEVER stay at home full time. I find it very stressful and lonely, and although I love my children dearly, I have learned that staying at home with them is not for me. I long for adult conversation and social interaction and I face a restlessness that must be fulfilled in my work as a catholic high school teacher. I am a better mother and wife by working outside the home, and believe it or not, I am more engaged with my family after a day at school than if I’m home all the time. I admire those mothers who choose to stay at home and I know from experience that their job is the hardest in the world! I have a friend who home-schools her four children, and I swear I would go stir crazy if this was my job. Lol! Our vocations are fulfilled in many ways, and I am certain that mine is as a working mother/wife.

  • That’s great that you’re able to be a SAHM! That’s my dream too, although we haven’t been able to make it a reality yet. In the meantime I run a blog for Catholic Working Mothers at http://www.catholicworkingmother.com. There are a lot of us who hope to be where you are someday!