+ J. M. J.
As followers of Christ we have the duty to put Him first in all things. As St. Francis is famously credited, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words when necessary.” What we do correlates with who we are. What a great call, huh? Growing up I had a very idealistic idea what life with a family or in a monastery would be. God chose to call me to family life. He blessed me with a wonderful husband and, so far, two daughters (one of whom will be born in December)!
As a little girl I wondered what it would be like as a stay-at-home wife and mother. I dreamed of waking my well-behaved children to go to 8am Mass every morning, followed by chores, a home schooling day, tidying the house and freshening up myself before my hard-working husband came home at 5 to a hot dinner and cheerful children, and we would all pray the rosary after dinner every night and enjoy one other’s company until the kids go to bed. It was a daydream filled with cheerfulness, patience and a beautiful house I knew how to take care of.
And then reality sunk in. 🙂 For one, I’m not a stay-at-home mom. I work full-time, now 20 weeks pregnant, while bringing my 10 month old daughter to the office with me. My husband is out of work and we are looking/praying for something to pay the bills so I can stay home with our little ones.
For another thing, marriage is a lot of work and worth the work! We weren’t naive to this when we made our vows but we are certainly learning it every hard way possible. Being gentle, patient and cheerful with each other sometimes sacrifices one’s own will and pride more than just about anything else. It is so worth it, though, and something we continue to work at.
Third, family prayer & spousal prayer doesn’t just *happen* unless it is a priority. It isn’t a priority unless it is put into every day deliberately and without letting things “get in the way”.
Fourth, the daily grind of domestic life is a challenge when two people define “clean” and “important” so differently when it comes to housework, yardwork and picking up after oneself. This place has room to grow in virtue but developing a house into a well-oiled machine that runs on autopilot is nothing at all like a picturesque daydream. I never thought of housework in my fantasies. Maybe I thought I’d luck out and marry a doctor. Then I could hire someone to clean my house twice a week. In my world, though, we go through stages of, “this isn’t working, let’s try something else.”
It is in the little nitty-gritties of life that we find Jesus. It is in the sweeping grandeur of the Mass and the rich traditions of our Catholic faith that we find Him, too, but the job He gave me was to raise a family. It can’t get more tedious, grinding and sacrificing than that. It can’t get more beautiful, rewarding and joyful than that.