Kids, career, Catholicism

So, I have been reading a lot of post here at CAF, however, am new to posting. I am wondering if there are any woman out there that have found a way to balance it all. I guess the bottom line question is can you have your cake and eat it too?

It seems that most of the posts I have been reading have been from SAHMs, which God bless them, seem like they are just born to have lots and lots of children and probably do a really good job at raising them.

I have three children and choose (I say that lightly as in I have to pay my bills, but I am sure some would say I could sacrifice more, don’t have 3 bedrooms, 2 car fam, use coupons, etc. to be able to stay at home) to work. Truth be told, I like the stimulation I get from working and going to school, and I feel I can make an impact on soceity through working. I also consider myself a pretty good mom. Involved in the childrens schools, do home work with them, take them to service, prayer every night, etc. I’ve tried NFP, and have not been able to get it straight. Between being stressed from work/school, breastfeeding, and other life stuff, I haven’t been “real good” at the NFP stuff. I also want to continue my career. I feel like I should be ashamed of this as a Catholic for “wanting” this?

Are there any families out there that are willing to share their NFP stories while going to school/work, have a high-stress job, still have a decent marriage are making work and Catholicism and parenting, etc. work? Can anyone shed some light on how this can work?:confused:

Thank in advance.

Welcome and God bless!

Tough tough questions… I deal with them all on a daily basis myself.
I have two young children and work full time in a very stressful job (which I’m trying to remedy… I’m currently an engineer and would like to move into the real estate business)…

Similar story, I’m sure we could sacrifice more (but we certainly are NOT living the high life :rolleyes: ), but it’s a delicate balance between painfully low on funds or working… very very tough choices to have to make, huh? I sympathize.
I also enjoy working on a certain level. I think it actually helps me be a better mom… I tend to focus all my “stress” on work and get to focus all my “joy and love” on my family. My kids don’t have to see much of my “stress”…

We do practice NFP, and I actually LOVE it. I don’t know if we just had really great instructors through our diocese, but it really clicked well for us and I can’t RAVE about it enough. There’s NO “work” involved in NFP for me… just the up front education, and slowly getting to know my own body’s cycle.
One book I highly recommend on the “science” of NFP is Taking Charge of Your Fertility… it doesn’t support the Catholic reasonings for practicing NFP, so don’t get sidetracked with their teaching to “use protection” during your fertile phase :eek: … but it’s an overall great book… just use your Catechism as a side reference for the teachings of the church. :wink:

Anyway… couple things to remember… it’s not a matter of morality to be a working mother. There is nothing against working in the teachings of the Catholic church.

It’s very tough to balance life… although it could be just as challenging to struggle financially… I guess we each need to pick our battles and do what works best for each of us individually!

God bless… and know you’re not alone! You’ll be in my prayers!

I would advise you to spend more time in quiet, reflective prayer. Of course you are probably thinking " I have barely enough time to pray as it is plus get breakfast and get to work etc!"

I strongly urge you to spend 15 minutes in the morning of meditation. NO time in prayer is wasted…I promise.

When your prayer life is neglected or put on the “back burner” everything else can fall apart, eventually. When your prayer life is first you will find that your children are happier and more cooperative, you are happier and more organized, cooking dinner seems easier, washing clothes goes smoother…I hope you get the idea.

I have no organizing tips, child-rearing tips or ways to keep it all together and do it all. I am very curious now to see if you will try this…please try it for two weeks and see how things go. I promise you, you will have a new outlook on life and your life will change.

God bless you and welcome!

**I balance one child who will be 3 soon, a husband and soon will be working again ( i was on a temporary hiatus from my job due to a company restructing but now everything is fine) but before and now again will be working 30-70 hours a week as a full time video editor for a cable network show (and now come to find out i may have a second show to do as well!)

Could we sacrifice more so i could be a SAHM, yes we could be living on welfare, food stamps and living in a hovel but I refuse to do that. My husband and i practice NFP and since i am a little irregular i buy the stick that let you know when you are ovulating…I have been using them for 3 years with out any issues.

I enjoy my job and i love the creative aspect of it. Taking something from nothing and putting it together like a puzzle. I don’t feel that i am a horrible mom because i have to work or even dare i say like working (not that i would turn down a million dollars and quit my job:) **

Wow, this website has some quick turn around times on the replies. Thanks so much.

Just to respond to some of the suggestions, I actually do have the “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” book. Kind of funny, my somewhat reluctant husband and I were actually taking the NFP class through a neighboring Church when we conceived our third child. It was at a time when I was just finishing up taking physics, organic chemistry and still working full-time with two little ones at home, so I was having a hard time “reading” my body. So, I hadn’t looked at TCOYF in a while, I should definitely take it out and brush the old dust off:) Especially now that my youngest isn’t breastfeeding as much. Seriously I think breastfeeding has been a life saver.

The other piece of the pie, is that I just got accepted into medical school. Of course, I have worked very hard to get here, but I am thinking I am feeling a little bit guilty, because this is something that is for me and am feeling a little bit selfish. Plus I am worried about what the stress of studying will do for my cycles. And, I was actually one of those people who thought they didn’t get stressed, until I started practicing NFP and realized I was “off.” So, no, I don’t think my home life or my kids pick up, too much, on my stress.

I was very open about practicing NFP, and so got lots of jokes when “it failed.” I just say, “Well, you know what Meme says, ‘Take what the good Lord gives you!’” At the time everyone laughed, now though, you’d be amazed at how many people say that I need to get on birth control, of some sort because of going to medical school. It’s crazy, but in the same sense, I also don’t want to fail, go insane, get a divorce because we “can’t handle” 4 kids, obviously I may be exagerating, but you get my point. I keep saying that “God only gives you what you can handle,” but I also don’t just want to be able to “handle,” I want to do it (parenting, marriage, career) well.

Lastly, prayer. Yes, indeed, I pray. However, I usually do it at night time with my three girls. I will definitely try it in the morning too. Thanks for the suggestion.

Oh, and can I get some more info on how the ovulation sticks work?

Ok, I think I’ve rambled enough. Thank you again. You all have been wonderful.:wink:

Hi Trying 2, :wave:

You might like to read a biography of St. Therese’s mother. She was the model of motherhood. And, she was a working mother who supported her family. Her home based business did so well, her husband quit his job and went into hers!

They had what we would consider an upper middle class income.

She and her husband had an excellent marriage. The biggest regret she had was that her daughter Leonie (my CAF identity) suffered from her lack of attention. Leonie was under the thumb of a cruel housekeeper. Zelie died young (in her early forties). Her greatest worry as she grew sicker from breast cancer was that she wouldn’t be there for Leonie who needed her the most. Leonie did struggle for years but joined an order and became a very saintly nun in the end. I chose Leonie for my CAF identity because I am like Leonie–surrounded by saints but struggling.

The most important thing is what God wants. So, that prayer time is very important. There is no one way to be a good mom. I do know if a mom chooses to be a SAHM, it is very important to be a content loving mother. A bitter SAHM is much much worse than a happy working mom.

I’m a little prejudice against working moms because my mom worked a lot. And, I often felt lost and lonely even though my grandma lived with us and took care of us. It took reading the story of Zelie Martin–a working mom in a middle class family to help me see that working doesn’t preclude mothering.

I think it is very important to be available to your kids after school. From the studies I keep hearing about–kids get into a lot of trouble after school when they are unsupervised–esp in the preteen and teen years when they are too old for childcare.

Maybe in that period of life, a part time job would be better until they are grown. :slight_smile:

We can’t have it ‘all’ at the same time.

There are only so many hours in a day. We have to sleep 8 of those, eat well, exercise and find ways to destress ourselves or else we get sick and die…then what good are we to anyone?

We can strike a balance amongst our priorities.
I’ve come to believe we can juggle about 5 aspects of our lives with proper time management skills and effective destressing routines:

God Family Friends Community Me

In that order, too.

God: in everything we think, do, say…keep him front and center, allow him to work through you. Set aside time for prayer, mass, holy days, etc.

Family: in everything we think, do, say as wife, mother, daughter, sister, keep God front an center allowing him to speak to them through you. Set aside time to connect with each of those in your life - regular phone calls, dates with husband, family game/movie time, etc.

Friends: in everything we think, do, say as a friend to those God brings into our lives - through our jobs, through our volunteer opportunities, etc. He brings people into our lives to stay but a moment, perhaps years, perhaps a lifetime, but he brings them to us for a reason - so we nurture these relationships not from the perspective of what they can do for us, as much as what God needs us to do for them. Sometimes, most times, it’s really just us being a companion, giving a hug, listening. Keep the connections open with each friend in your circle, making time to be with them if/when they need you and turning to them when you are in need of God’s ‘touch’…remember God uses them to speak to you as well.

Community: in everything we think, do, say as a representative of God within the community in which we live matters. We, as Catholics, are obliged to commit to corporal and spiritual works of mercy. We fulfill that obligation through church, school, community volunteer opportunities so we do have to set aside time for those meetings, activities, fundraisers and such.

Me: in everything we think, do, say as God’s light in this world we must praise Him and give thanks for being alive yet one more day. We must set aside time to develop a personal relationship with him so that we can feel his purpose for us in this life. We must explore and develop the skills and talents He has blessed us with, and then use them - not for our personal gain or egos - but for Him.

That being said, there is a time and a season for all things. Before marriage my focus was on getting my education, developing a career path. Then God sent me my husband and I was able to experience my career for a brief number of years before we were blessed with children. The next 19 years have been devoted to raising those children to know God and to love Him. That meant stepping away from my career path in order to take a less stressful job - one with flexibility which let me go to mid afternoon lunches with the kids’ classes, to attend field trips, to take them to the doctor at all hours, to stay home with them when they needed to get better. Money was tighter, but God provides. When the kids leave (in about another 2-3 years) then the opportunity for me to reestablish my career (if that is God’s will) will present itself and I can choose to go back to it. Or I can find I choose to devote my time more to community or my prayer life. I don’t know…that’s something God will guide me to when I get there.

But because God is always center in every decision I make, I am happy, I am content, with the live He has designed for me. It took a while to give the reins over to him, but life went so much smoother after I did.

I am a mom of 3, step mom of 1 and a fulltime career type. For most of the time my kids were growing up I didn’t have a choice because I was a single mom with no child support. I went to school while working 40+ hours a week, volunteered at their schools, etc, etc… and I pretty much held it together outwardly… Inside I was caving in. When I got married, I continued to work and balance 3 kids in 3 different schools and now a step child too. I wish I had had the opportunity to stay at home but I didn’t. My kids are older though. I understand liking your work, I certainly do too. I used to joke about liking my kids much better when I worked. But the truth of the matter is that I never before my current marriage got to experience a sacramental marriage to a good Catholic man. If I had, I probably would have opted to work half time or less. The reason I say this is because in retrospect, I could have done much more for my family if I was at home. For instance… with my work schedule, we eat out often. I am a good cook and love to see my kids and husband appreciate my cooking, but I think I cook at home 2-3 times a week. I never realized how expensive it was to eat out, even at McDonalds with that many kids! I am trying to get back into spending more time at home cooking but when I get home from work, I just want to eat and sleep because this is the bad habit I got myself in. The other thing I am struggling with is finding the time to both cook and grocery shop.

As my career progresses it isn’t getting easier, it’s getting harder. Then there is all the time I spend doing things like picking up my step daughter for visits… (she lives 3 hours away) so on Friday nights I drive an hour to pick her up and an hour back, we order pizza those nights. On Sunday afternoons, I drive 2 hours to drop her off and 2 hours back… what a complete waste of an afternoon! When she is with us, do I want to be spending my time grocery shopping? No, I want to spend time with her… so weekends are out for grocery shopping.

On average I work about 50 hours a week, but that doesn’t mean that the boss doesn’t think anything about emailing me at 10:30 pm or calling at 6 am even on weekends. Thankfully, he has only called during mass 2 times in 2 years because he also goes to the same church. I have had to go back into work on Friday nights after picking up my step daughter… so much for family time!!! Amazingly, he didn’t call one time while I was on a school trip with my daughter to Washington DC for the March for Life. It’s all a trade off. I could spend more time at home with the family, cook, clean (my weakest skill) and all that, and yes there would be a definite money crunch.

While I don’t earn top dollar, there are advantages to my work that I would have to take into account like my company car and gas allowance. I can and do go to mass anytime I want during work. My work schedule is very flexible, especially if I need to attend spiritual matters. How many bosses advise you to pray for another employee when you have a dispute with them? My boss did! I like working where the boss cares about your spiritual well being. They aren’t the only “perks” though. As an employee, I get to use our facilities when I need… like using a company truck to pick up furniture or just because I want to use a bigger car for a trip… or having access to fresh eggs (part of the business is a farm). I can go to educational seminars at company expense as long as they will someday benefit the company. How about the football and basketball tickets the boss gives me? The kids certainly enjoy the games (have you seen the price of college sports tickets?:bigyikes:) I have opted to work even though I have to do things a little differently than I want to.

Nobody can “have it all” so to speak. The difference is knowing what is negotiable and what isn’t. My boss would never ask me to work on a Sunday for example. But, when I work longer hours (no more money I am salaried) I still have to feed my family so we eat out. I also can take time off any time I want for dr appointments or to go “chat” with our priest… Heck, sometimes the priest comes here to talk with the boss and we all go to lunch! I think Ying Yang mom said it best:

We can strike a balance amongst our priorities.
I’ve come to believe we can juggle about 5 aspects of our lives with proper time management skills and effective destressing routines: **God ****Family ****Friends ****Community **Me

Now, practically speaking…
the key is letting go of what you want for yourself.
It sounds unfair, it sounds harsh, it can breed resentment.

But think about it…the day you said “I do” you died to yourself to become one with your husband **and **God, promising to spend the rest of your days growing closer to God through this marriage.

Then the children came, and that’s when we are really called to set everything aside so that they are front and center of our time and attention.

They are a gift. They are with us for a short time. And their formative years are from day 1 through 2nd grade - on one level. Then we have the grades 3-5 to contend with. Next comes grades 6-9, and then most critically again, the high school years.

There are no tomorrows when it comes to our kids and the chances we are given to help them discover who they are and why God brought them into this world. We keep thinking we have at least 19 years with them, but tragedies happen and young ones get called home too soon, so really, what is most important to you as a wife and mother: Your career path? the money you are able to bring into the home? Your sex life? Those are matters which can be maximized later in life - if you are blessed with long life.

The sex life, well that’s important, certainly, so aside from the kids, your role as wife should take your attention as well. Another reason to place that priority above your education, your stressful job, your commitments to outside organizations. The good news is nurturing the marriage does not take a lot of time. It takes a little bit of time consistently given…praying together, going on a date once a month, calling each other daily just to say “I love you”, watching a tv show cuddling.

Where is the stress coming from which is interfering with your ability to utilize NFP effectively? Find the source and cut it out, drastically reduce it, or change it all together. When your marriage and family life is strong, running smoothly, with God at the center, everything else will flow from that - including your financial security. When you put your marriage and family on the back burner to focus on outside areas, you will be stressed. It’s the way God designed the family unit. Remember that marriage is a vocation, first and foremost.

From the last post, I guess I got my question answered. As a woman, it’s pretty much impossible to have a life outside of your family. That, to me, is very discouraging. Especially raising three daughters, I don’t want them to feel that they have to choose between having a career and having a family. I feel that in this light, we are reducing women as subserviants, and seriously, I am far from being a feminists. Believe me, I cook nutritious meals, clean (probably not as much as I should), and I teach my children, both educationally and morally.

My husband, while not as supportive of the Church teachings, is willing to participate in somethings, mainly Mass. He is on the otherhand very supportive of me continuing my education. Will it take sacrifice, absolutely?

As for stress, like I said before, I didn’t realize I was stressed. But given that my cycle was far from regular, I assumed that it must have been my final exam schedule that was throwing me off, even though I didn’t feel outwardly stressed by it.

So I guess my new question is, since the Catholic religion is so constrictive on what women can do outside the family, should I perhaps pursue a more accepting Christian religion?
To say give up on a dream, actually, I’d say more than a dream, because I have tried to talk myself out of it, I’d say a calling, actually to me does sound very harsh. Hmm…I am seriously at a loss…:frowning:

Trying2, when I was a mom with three little kids, I was so restless and bored with being a SAHM. From the time I was a little girl, I had known that I had important work to do in the world. I was staying at home because I couldn’t bear to leave my kids with others, but I was very unhappy.

One day, I was sitting on my deck watching my kids scoot around on their little bikes. And, almost without thinking, I said to God, “what about the important work I was supposed to do?”

I heard in my head “you are looking at it.”

In a rush, I realized that since the beginning of time, God had planned for this to be my mission: to care for and rear my children. I was floored, dumbfounded and speechless. God did have important work for me. I realized it was more important than anything I had dreamed of in the world.

Giving your life over to caring for and rearing your kids is not easy–it is a dying to self. But, it is a sweet Calvary.

The work we do here on Earth is nothing. It will pass away. But the souls of our children are eternal.

To me, a job is something that you do (with great integrity, of course) so you can support your real mission: rearing your children. If you have to work to pay the rent and buy the bread, then you do it. Otherwise, it only saps your energy and time from your real mission.

Trying2, I’m with you in that I just can’t seem to get the hang of NFP. Hence, the 9 children! :smiley: I am delighted with each and every one of them and thrilled to death I couldn’t quite figure it out!

And yes, I do work outside the home. Our first was born when I was a junior in college, age 20. DH and I worked opposite schedules, with a brief (year) of part time daycare, while I finished college.

After that, I taught music lessons very, very part time, and eventually took a ‘real’ job teaching lessons with a studio, because it became apparent we would never be able to buy a house without that income. Again, we set up our schedules so someone was always home with the kids.

When I was pregnant with #6, I started my master’s degree. I was heading towards music education (band director) but that program required 30 hours in the classroom. I compromised by getting an MS Education and teaching certificate through an off campus program that required minimal time in the classroom. My children were quite happy to spend every Saturday with my friend whose sons were also their friend, and I babysat for her Friday nights in exchange.

When I got my degree (pregnant with twins when I graduated), I took a job directing a band/ running a music program that was part time, again, opposite dh’s schedule so they were never left alone. For us, at the time, it was extra income, but I loved what I was doing, and the kids were not left home alone or in daycare.

Today, we have moved to a metro area to be near family, and we literally cannot pay the basic bills unless I work. But I still work part time. Unfortunately, the kids are now left alone on occasion, due to dh’s rotating work schedule. As he has moved up the ladder and increased his pay, we are talking about me cutting back to just two days a week.

I also keep up with hobbies (I write) while the kids are at school and the youngest are playing or napping here at home.

I don’t believe we can ‘have it all.’ But I also don’t believe that being a mother requires you to do nothing but housework and childcare for 18 years.

About six months ago, while I was in Adoration, I was telling God my plans. I told him that having had a good number of children-4- I would like to train as an occupational therapist. I said that I would have some more children later, if he chose, and would of course use NFP.
He told me “no”, and told me to have another baby, with the words "What is *really more important?". I was quite gutted actually, I kind of hoped that God would give me his blessing to do what I *wanted to do.
I didn’t have to say yes, but no one has taken the big guy on yet and won, and yes, I have to concede, that yes, God *does *know what is best for me.

God may or may not get you to do a u-turn in your life, but please know that God knows best, even if we don’t feel like he does.

Do not fret… this is not a requirement of the Catholic Church! I REPEAT… it is NOT a requirement of the Catholic Church!!!

I have to mention this often because there are women who feel “called” to be SAHM… but it has NOTHING to do with the “teachings of the Church”… it has everything to do with their unique callings from God.

Your calling is unique… God has given you this beautiful gift of knowledge and the ability and willingness to share it with others! You have a desire to HEAL people as a medical doctor! How can that NOT be good?!?

Do not fret… be at peace. God created you and molded you into the person you are today.
Continue to pray. Life as a working mother is VERY HARD (as you well know!), and we need the grace of the Holy Spirit to help us live a full and complete life of love.
Continue to pray and be close to God. Put your priorities in order… God, family, work… but that does NOT mean you have to abandon your work!!! Not at ALL!
Continue to pray for God’s graces in ALL you do…

God bless…

As a former working mom (music teacher), I found trying to “have it all” only made me and my family miserable. I prayed that God would find a way to let me be home and raise my children and He did. I never ONCE thought that the Catholic church was restrictive (and I’m a convert!). I KNEW that once I married and had children that being my “own” person was at an end. I had to serve something greater–my family (and in this way, I serve God, just as much as Religious do, just in a different manner: I clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give drink to the thristy, “visit” the sick, I also instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish sinners, forgive offenses willingly, comfort the afflicted, and pray for the living and the dead–corporal and spiritual works of mercy–but I’m able to do this with my family). Motherhood (and staying home to raise the children God has sent you) is in no way a subservient or subordinant position. It is a great honor, burden and true work–it’s also joyful, rewarding and important. Life is full of choices–wisely choosing a vocation (single, married, religious) is the most important choice and these choices are open to everyone. Teaching your daughters about these choices in vocation will let them know the struggles and challenges inherent in each. They each have their positives and negatives. That’s pretty much life.

It’s difficult to give up what we want and surrender to God. Discerning a true calling is not something done lightly. Perhaps you could find a good Catholic Spiritual Advisor (one that believes in the teachings of the Church) to help you figure out if this IS a calling. For all I know you ARE called to be a Doctor and I admit we need more faithful Catholic Doctors, I just wonder at getting this degree at the expense of your children. Like it or not, getting a medical degree is demanding to say the least. Being a Doctor is a demanding profession. Maybe your dh will be able to take up the slack, but nothing replaces a Mother in family life (nothing replaces Dads either!!!).

God bless you as you determine your true vocation.


As the child of a working mother, I though I would chime in. My mom worked part time for my whole life, and then started working full time when I was in high school. I wanted you to know that I never resented her for working, or felt neglected. Actually, the opposite is true. I admired the way she was somehow able to do everything. If I ever feel like I can’t handle something, I just think of my mom and I know I can. My mom managed to be there for our important moments and always had a good dinner on the table (sometimes late at night, but still there). She has also managed to be a faithful Catholic and raise four children in the faith. So I just wanted to let you know that it can be done, and done well, though I’m sure it was very difficult for my mom at times.


**I have always loved this qoute by the late Pope John Paul II

**“Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic and political. In this way you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of “mystery”, to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity.”

**I also agree with EM IN FL that to be a SAHM is not a requirement to be Catholic. The world is definitely in need of good Catholic doctors…Maybe you could do a combo degree in MD/Phd Bioethics? That way if you find that med school gets to be too draining or the rotations afterwards you could still get a job in the medical field? Bioethics is such a big field now and so many jobs are available.

What does your husband think of you going to medical school? Is he on board with your decisions? If you feel called to do medicine then I don’t believe that its a selfish act.

I know how hard it is sometimes, like i said earlier there are some weeks that i don’t get home till 10:00 pm at nite because i have a show deadline. But iam at peace with the fact that if wasn’t working and was a SAHM then my child would actually be worse off because we wouldn’t really have a place to live, clothing, or food. **

Was the Pope addressing working mothers or just working women (and maybe not mothers)? Could you post the link to the whole speech please? Just curious, really…


**I don’t believe he was just addressing working women as he also thank women who are mothers,those who are consecrated,**

Women of Grace

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