The Value of a Stay-at-Home Mom

Carly Chirchirillo 11/14/22

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“When I grow up, I want to be a Mom.” This was almost always my response when a teacher asked what I wanted to be when I was older. When it came time for college, I knew I couldn’t study motherhood, so I decided to look for a career with experience and a schedule that would help me on my journey towards and through motherhood. That led me to begin my nursing career. My nursing career has had wonderful ups and devastating downs, but I have felt truly called to my work in the hospital these past six years.

Last year when my husband and I found out we were expecting our daughter, we discussed what my work schedule would look like after her birth. I didn’t think I was ready to stay home so we decided that I was going to look for a part-time night shift position. That way one of us would always be there for her and I would not have to miss most of her hours awake during the day.  We knew it would likely be a challenge, but with God’s grace we would do our best. To me, this plan sounded perfect, until I held my baby for the first time. I thought, “How am I going to leave my baby and go back to work at all?” Everyone told me that it would be hard, but I would adjust as every working mom does.  It was a lesson that I am grateful I didn’t have to learn, because God had a different plan. When my maternity leave ended, due to unforeseen circumstances, I was not able to return to my job.  Much earlier in my motherhood journey than anticipated, I found myself with the new title, “Stay-at-home-Mom.” 

A part of me was elated that I would be able to spend every day with my precious daughter and not have to worry about being tired from or stressed about balancing work and home life. However, there were three main fears that scared me about being a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). What were other people going to think of me? How were we going to afford to live on one income? Was I going to go crazy not having a “purpose” outside of my home? These may sound fleeting to some, but I do not think I am the only mom with these fears.

For the first few months of adjusting to the SAHM role, when someone would ask what I did for a living, I would respond almost embarrassingly, “Oh, just a stay at home mom,” and I would quickly add, “But, I free-lance on the side!” Why did I feel like I had to defend my situation? Childhood Carly would say, “You did it! You are what you always wanted to be!” Well then why did I feel like I was doing something wrong? 

There has been a great push in our society for women to contribute to the workforce and economy. It is wonderful that women have the ability to attend school, earn degrees, and enter the workplace. I am so grateful for my career and the opportunity to make an income from the education I received. We as a society, though, go too far when we make a woman feel guilty for staying home and taking that time she would have spent at work and spending it at home with her children instead. As Catholics, we have an amazing guiding light in our lives that we can look to for guidance and wisdom on our motherhood journey. All moms, and parents, are called to help mold holiness in their children and help create little saints for the Kingdom of Heaven. This does not look the same for every mom. For me and my family, God has made it evident that at this time, His will for me is to be home with my daughter. While I had some struggles with this idea, I have found the most peace in trusting that God is working things together for my and my family’s good. He has provided for us financially. He has shown me that I need to look to Him to find purpose, rather than looking for it in my work.  While this might not be everyone’s calling, I know that this is where God is calling me at this time.

A two income family has become the new norm. We see many families not being able to afford living on one income.  I’ve worked with so many wonderful moms who are doing what they can to help provide financially for their family. I have witnessed a coworker’s tears as she reflected on missing her child’s first steps. I’ve seen another mom crying watching her child turn over for the first time on a video from the babysitter. These are sacrifices these working moms make and my heart goes out to them for the sacrifices they are making. For our family, we are going against the grain and navigating how to survive without my nursing income. Between the extra hours my husband has picked up, and the few hours a week I do data collection after my daughter goes to sleep, we are able to make ends meet. I thought it was impossible to afford a life without my salary, but we have been putting our trust in the Lord and He has provided for us so far. 

Having a purpose outside of the home was something I thought I would need because through the years it was often something I heard mothers say they needed.  Some days being home with my child seem really monotonous and it is important for my well-being to have adult conversations. Many women might fill this hole with interactions at work, but I have joined some weekly clubs and programs that build structure into my week so that my child can socialize with other children, but also so that I can socialize with other adults.  In my experience and from my chats with other moms, I am learning more and more how beautiful and sanctifying being a mother is. I have this amazing opportunity to be able to focus more of my time and energy into my marriage and motherhood, molding holiness in my family, and for that I am grateful to God.   

Carly Chirchirillo is a stay-at-home mom in Queens where she lives with her husband and daughter.

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