“And I believe it was sometimes during the first week of Sarah’s life, as I held her tenderly in my arms thinking the sweet thoughts of a new mother, that I realized she was to become my own, in-home disciple in the making. I had spent the last ten years of my life in the ministry of making disciples from people I met in the world. Now Sarah and any future children would become the focus of my ministry”
- Sally Clarkson, ‘The Ministry of Motherhood’
- Sally Clarkson, ‘The Ministry of Motherhood’
This is a quote from a book Aaron recently bought for me. He bought me this book with an explanation…‘since you will be a stay at home mom soon, I thought you would appreciate being intentional about the vocation you are about to take on’.
I want to say that I do not think that everyone is called to be at home with their kids. I have talked to, and believe, many women who are better moms because they work. I have full respect for that reality. In fact, when I met Aaron, when we talked about our future, the plan was always that I would continue to work. It seemed simple, I had one of the most flexible jobs ever, you couldn’t get a better job for mommyhood, that was the plan. However, after a few months with my first child, I knew that the plan had changed.
When lil’ Aaron was three months old, my vocation as a youth minister called me to leave him for sixteen days while I took a group to World Youth Day in Spain. I have told people since, I have had a VERY privileged life, but it was by far the most difficult thing I have ever done. As I held lil’ Aaron in my arms at the airport, I could not stop crying. I kept saying to my husband, ‘This isn’t right, I shouldn’t be leaving my baby, what am I doing?!?!’. To be honest, I had irrational thoughts as well, ‘I am not going to go, I am not going to get on this plane and leave my baby’. Thank GOD I thought to have parents meet me an hour after saying goodbye to my husband and child. By the time the teens were dropped off, I had calmed myself down enough. The sixteen days went by so slowly and were beautiful and disastrous all at the same time. Everyone knew that when we returned the US of A, the moment our plane hit the soil, my responsibility was done and I was going to be running to the arms of my husband and child. That is EXACTLY what I did. For the month that followed, occasionally I would burst out into tears, feeling so grateful to have my baby back in my arms, and my husband by my side. I told Aaron I wasn’t sure I could do this job anymore; I told him it was time for us to start talking about me being a stay at home mom. He told me it was not something we could afford; give it time, it will be better…
When lil’ Aaron was six months old, I realized that I had spent close to 30 days away from him. Almost one whole month. I had found out I was pregnant again right before leaving for yet another youth trip, the National Catholic Youth Conference. Crazy youth trips are spectacular and were spectacular throughout all my years of ministry. Crazy youth trips in the beginning of pregnancy are horrible, and I was convinced could be dangerous to the little life I had growing inside me. After sleeping very little, staying up super late, living the crazy lifestyle of a youth minister, I started spotting. I had a really rough day the last day of that conference. The entire bus ride home, I thought and prayed and talked to God.
When I got home, I asked the husband if we could talk. I remember sitting on our bed and opening the conversation. I told him I needed to quit. I needed to be at home with my baby. I told him it was more than not wanting to work. I told him that I knew, for the first time in my life, that I was not following the will of God. I was being called to be a stay at home mom. I was being called to fulfill my lifetime vocation. I was being called out of youth ministry. I cried a lot of tears and begged him to find a way for me to be at home with my child. I cannot imagine what it must have been like, for my husband, to know our financial reality, but to hear his wife say that something had to change. I was CERTAIN that God was calling me to a new reality. A reality that didn’t make sense for a lot of reason, including the fact that I was expecting our second child in less than 2 years and we had a mound of debt (almost all mine) that needed to be paid. The husband said he would think about it and get back to me.
A few days later we ironed out a new financial plan. A plan that would take a lot of work. A plan that would mean saying ‘no’ to ourselves often. A plan that would take longer than maybe I wanted, but would put me at home in a reasonable amount of time. I remember, and I get a little teary eye’d when I think of, Aaron saying, ‘Mary, if we can stick to this plan, our children will never know you as anything but a stay at home mom’. And so, in Nov. 2011 we put into place a plan that would have me home with my children as a full time stay at home mom in July 2013.
This past week, I told my teens that at the end of the school year, I would be leaving. This past weekend, we announced to the parish via the Church bulletin that as of July, a new youth minister will be at SJN. And tomorrow, I will travel to Franciscan University of Steubenville. My plan is to talk to the students who are entering the field of youth ministry next year about the challenges and joys of working in this amazing field. After that, I will encourage a few of them to apply for a fantastic full time position. The transition has officially begun.
In January my job will be officially posted. By April, I hope we have someone hired. By May/June I will work with that person to transition the program I spent almost ten years building (obviously with and through the grace of God). There is a bittersweet reality that I am currently operating under. I cannot wait to be at home with my babies. I cannot wait to be able to plan things on the weekend with the family. I cannot wait to spend more than one weekday evening with my husband. But, alas, I will sure miss these teenagers. I will miss the creativity. I will miss the weekly reality that I have truly grown up with the past nine years. It is amazing to think of the young 23 year old, starting in the perfect position, not far from where I grew up. I have had such amazing experiences, I will spend sometime in the next six months reflecting on that…but, in the meantime, I look forward to the call of ministry that motherhood will offer me J
And pssst… I am excited to tell you in the next couple of months what I have ‘up my sleeve’ to keep me connected to the awesome community that is serving youth! Can’t wait!!!!