What If There Were No Working Moms?


Before you say it, I agree: there’s no such thing as a mom that doesn’t work. I’m all for moms that work, stay home, and those somewhere in between. —JDF

A recent article “Motherhood and the Call to Holiness” seemed to pop up on every website, blog and feed I visited. Here, Thomas McDonald shared examples of moms, who by and large planned to work after having children, yet came to further realize their vocation by staying home.

I have to admit articles like that can sting a bit. I think all moms experience some degree of mommy guilt, but with working moms it’s more of an epidemic. A survey last year found 66% of moms would rather stay home than work. On the flip side, through my own completely unofficial research [i.e. chatting with other moms], I know there are also plenty of stay-at-home moms who would like to work; it’s just not conducive to their family life right now.

I’m a pretty good example of someone who was caught off-guard by how much motherhood would change my professional plans. Before our oldest was born in 2003, I worked in the investment industry [40+ hours a week] and I figured I’d be perfectly OK dropping Quinn off at a near-by daycare center fives days a week.

After spending the first week back on the job in tears, I realized it wasn’t that clear cut. I struggled with handing my son off to spend the day with “Miss Jennifer” and “Miss Gwen,” as lovely as they were. I ended up quitting my job and returning to a previous employer, working two days a week, and found an amazing in-home childcare provider. That continued for about four years.

For the last 3 1/2 years I’ve worked full-time, Monday-Thursday and some weekends, in my job with the Archdiocese of Denver. [More about how that happened here, if you’re interested.]

In making decisions to work or not to work, parents weigh the relevant factors and prioritize based on their circumstances. Mothers sacrifice by working, not working, scrambling, juggling, and otherwise coordinating—all in the name of their top priority: their family.

That said, back to “Motherhood and the Call to Holiness.” It’s a call that’s different, but no less significant, for everyone. In the spirit of the article, I’d like to share a few examples of working moms—who in responding to their call—share their maternal genius not only with their families, but with the working world as well:

My mom, sister and sister-in-law are nurses: in oncology, hospice, and neonatal intensive care. They have the extraordinary hearts and minds needed to care for the sick, the dying, and newborn babies struggling to survive. ‘Nuf said.

My other sister is a classroom paraprofessional and my mother-in-law was a grade-school teacher: workdays spent tirelessly and patiently preparing students for the future, God bless ‘em.

What about when it comes to the corporate working world?

I have a friend who is a controller for a large construction company. Motherhood has provided her with insight to see her employees and co-workers individually, separate from their abilities. She said it’s also taught her to work harder and smarter so she can spend as much time as possible with her family: a benefit not only to her family, but to the company and its employees.

Another friend works in training and systems for a major insurance company. Her maternal skills have helped her understand that everyone learns differently and needs support. “I teach and listen with more patience and empathy since I’ve become a mother… I’ve realized that learning is not black and white, there’s a lot of gray area.”

Gray area. There’s a lot of that in the world, especially when it comes to motherhood. But we navigate the haze the best we can, relying on God and each other. So moms, whether you work, stay home, or something in between: let’s be there to lift each other up in our vocations, and continue to model maternal love in all we do—at home *and* in the workplace:

“Our work—whatever it is—should become a means to pursue holiness for ourselves and for our families, and to model holiness to those around us.”

—Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., “Living the Catholic Faith,” p. 118

I WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS: Do you work? Stay home? Somewhere in between? Did motherhood impact your professional life?

Copyright 2012 Julie Filby


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  1. Hello,
    I have always held a full time job outside the home. My kids are 16 and 12 and at the first of the year I took a new job where I work form my home office. This is a interesting change and I am glad to be around to help my boys navigate this period of their life. My income was twice my husbands for the first 14 years of our marriage, so I don’t wish it was different for me.

    I think it takes all kinds of people to make the world go ’round. I try to be the biggest supporter of my friend, who became a Mom later in life and is now seeing both of her kids in school and is worrying that she will now have to go find a job. I believe that decision is between her and her husband and that the only good reason for her going back to work was to update her skills in case the family needed to rely on her for financial income, but if she were comfortable with her families insurance and savings situation, it was not necessary. She’s now the super-PTO mom that schools rely on and I think that is awesome.

    We are all different and what is best for each family is different and as women I wish we all did a better job of supporting each other and making sure that we all feel that the roles we fill are valuable.

  2. I think as long as the Lord is guiding our decisions, we can’t go wrong. He knows what is best. As long as we are praying with our husband to God about working full-time outside the home, part-time, or full-time in the home, we’ll be okay (it takes 3 to be married, right?!). Yes, we must always find that balance to first do what is best for our family, which can mean a lot of things. Saint Gionna worked outside the home. So did St. Therese’s mom. It’s whatever the Lord calls us to do.

  3. I think you are absolutely right! There are plenty of moms who are using their talents for great purposes! I worked for three years outside the home and I struggled every day with leaving my son. When we had our daughter, I attempted to keep working, but it was just too overwhelming! When we finally spent real time praying about it, we realized it was time for me to quit my job and be at home with our kids for this particular season of life! Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Leanne, first may I just say: YOU are my new BFF. Anyone who starts a comment with: “I think you are absolutely right!” is OK in my book. :) But seriously, thanks for sharing your valuable perspective! Peace, Julie

  4. Thanks for posting this, Julie! Sometimes it seems like there is such a huge gap between the mom who works outside the home and the mom who works at home taking care of her family. It’s an ‘us vs them’ mentality and there is so much resentment on both sides. The funny thing is that most moms tend to cross over the line multiple times – entering and leaving the workforce over the course of several years. Your perspective is refreshing! I love that you share stories of how motherhood makes these women better at their jobs – no matter what the jobs are – and that they are sharing their God-given talents with the world. There’s not a ‘one size fits all’ solution.

    • Hi Theresa. I agree, it’s that “gray area” I mentioned. There are just waaaay too many work/family variables and scenarios today (thank God!) for a “black and white” mentality. Thanks so much! Peace, Julie

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