When I was about 12 weeks pregnant with my first baby back in 2016, I cried in my husband’s arms, knowing that my lifelong desire of being a stay-at-home mom with kids was not in God’s plan for our lives.
As difficult as that time was, three kids later, it’s clear that, once again, God knows best. Our kids thrive at home, learning from their father and taking care of one another. I’m busy and fulfilled at work, but also working from home, available to jump into “mom mode” if needed. It’s been a blessing and a reminder of how important it is to be docile to the Holy Spirit, even when our hearts are pulled us in a different direction.
Still, when my husband had to travel recently for a week to promote his latest book — ahem, “Glorifying Christ: The Life of Cardinal Francis E. George, O.M.I.” — I was pumped to stay and play with the kids.
I had big plans for Mom and Kids. Day trips, shopping, baking, adoration, lots of time running and playing outside — you know, stay-at-home mom stuff. Little did I know how real it was going to get.
The first fever made itself known in the evening during dinner. My daughter wouldn’t eat, which isn’t all that uncommon, given her proclivity to snack; but then came the tears. It was a textbook kid virus: fever, stuffy nose, cough. We went to the doctor, we got medicine. I hunkered her down on the couch with Disney+.
A few days later, my oldest went down. Same symptoms, same doctor, same meds, same position on the couch. It was a few more days before it finally made it to the baby.
All told, the week in numbers included four trips to the doctor, six kinds of medicine, eight boxes of tissues, and 5 billion hours of television. An honest-to-goodness stay-at-home mom experience, indeed.
The kids were troupers, but they were tired and sick and constantly in need. I ran on adrenaline and coffee.
That’s how it always seems to go, said a co-worker and mom of four when I told her about my week “off.” Anytime there’s a plan in our heads for family fun, things tend to go sideways. As the poet Robert Burns said, “The best laid schemes of mice and men / Go often askew.”
Still, when I look back on that week, I can see the grace working there, too. We laughed and coughed (usually in that order), and played and rested.
We might not have gone on walks and outings, but we had lots of snuggles and cuddles. We might not have run around outside, but we sat on the deck and played endless rounds of UNO, the current family game of choice. We might not have been able to make it to Mass or adoration, but we prayed at night before bed, inviting the Lord into our messiness.
And I had the opportunity to really be there for my kids, in a way that I sometimes feel like, as a working mother, I am not always in the way I would prefer. I held my daughter in my arms as she slept while we waited in the doctor’s waiting room. I gave a long bath to my son, helping to calm his cough. I rocked and nursed my baby as much as he wanted. I got to just be Mom to kids who really needed her.
“In all circumstances, give thanks,” St. Paul teaches us, after reminding us to rejoice always and pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:16-18). God has a way of providing, reminding us to trust in his plan and find joy in all things. Every moment is to be cherished as a gift — even those that might not originally have gone as planned.