Supporting and Encouraging Working Catholic Moms by Shelly Kelly

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kelly_shellyToday, I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome talented blogger Shelly Kelly to our CatholicMom.com family of contributors!  Shelly and her sister Lisa Jones comprise the blogging team at the always-inspiring Of Sound Mind and Spirit blog.  Shelly will join us monthly to share her thoughts and perspective on the challenges and joys of being a working Catholic mom.  I’ve prayed for quite some time about providing more resources for the moms who visit our site and who work outside the home – Shelly is truly an answer to that prayer, and a great friend too!  I hope you enjoy getting to know her here and that you’ll share your thoughts on what you’d like to see in her columns!  Lisa

I was having a conversation with my sister, Lisa Jones,  about her regular column at Catholic Mom. I’m so proud of her in how she’s developing as a writer and I’m impressed with her Little Moments and insights about daily events. She wanted to know when I’d be submitting regular columns to Catholic Mom. She seemed surprised when I told her that I don’t really feel like a “Catholic Mom.”

And I don’t. When someone asks me who I am or what I do, Mom is not the first response that comes to mind. I’m simply “Shelly” and the titles that follow are complex.

After years of developing and evolving my own self-identity as a daughter, sister, college student, graduate student, employee, Certified Archivist, wife, sister-in-law, mother, and Catholic, I’ve never considered myself just one of those things. Because I had a career that I loved first, and did not have the choice of leaving it when I had my first child, I’ve never really thought of myself as “Just a Mom.” I’ve always been a “Working Mom.” I’ve worked hard to find and maintain a sufficient balance in my two lives and do what works for our family.

I still love my career. I’ve been very fortunate to have a supportive employer and access to positive, trustworthy, childcare. My job is five minutes away from the house and elementary school. The school is dominated by some wonderful stay-at-home moms who are as high-powered in their role as “Mom” as I am at my office. Ironically, at a time when many of my friends who left their careers to stay home with infants ten years ago are re-entering the workforce, I find myself wondering what it would be like to stay at home.

When I read posts that are 100% focused on being a Mom, I don’t always connect. I can easily see and understand the working-mom vs. stay-at-home mom debate. I occasionally listen to Lisa vent about having to do this or that and not having any time and in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “Yeah? Well I have to do the same things and I’m working 40 hours a week around it.”

I’d like to write more for Working Moms out there – our struggle to find that balance. My challenge will be finding the right tone. I don’t want to come across as complaining. I love my job. I love my family. I want to be successful at both, even though I recognize that I might not be perfect at both.

I want to connect with more women who know what it means to feel conflicted when they can’t take a day off work to go on the school field trip with their kindergartener. Or who have to say to their older child you can’t join the church choir because they practice from 4-5 p.m. and I just can’t get you there. But women who also love their career, their job, and know that feeling of satisfaction on the days when it all just clicks into place and you feel like you truly have it all.

So I’m challenging myself to write for those of you in the same situation. Please let me know you’re out there and what you’d like to hear about. We’re “Catholic Moms” too, even if we don’t feel like it all the time.

Copyright 2010 Shelly Kelly

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10 Comments

  1. Shelly, thank you for this. I’m also a working mom (a high school teacher — I am currently on summer vacation and loving it!) and I can absolutely relate to the feelings you describe here. I think the hardest part is dealing with the little undercurrent of guilt that I always feel at not being able to be there for my kids all the time. I went through a particularly rough period this spring where I felt that my students were getting the “first fruits,” and that by the time I got home with my own kids, I was too exhausted to be truly present for them. That felt horribly wrong.

    I’d love to hear more about how you find a balance. We working moms can learn a lot from each other, I think — at the very least, we can offer encouragement and sympathy for those days when you bolt out the door in the morning (already running late at 7 AM) and feel like you’re one step away from Looneyland.

  2. Hello! I am a Mom with a full-time career outside the home. It is a struggle to maintain balace and give all sides of my life their due.

    I feel like one of the few in my generation (i”m 43) who also had a Mom who worked outside the home. My Dad was very involved and my parents were able to rely on Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. I am too, but about 3 years ago we moved 30 miles away from extended family and it’s not as easy.

    Then this past Feb, at the same time my 10 YO was struggling socially in the school and I decided that his Catholic High school principal was not handling things in the best interest of my son, I transferred him to the local public school, my husband was put on a project where was out of town 11 out of 13 weeks. I told my Freshman son I could not get him to High school baseball tryouts. (There was very little chance he would have mande the team, If I thought there was a possibility I would have moved heaven and earth.) He was disappointed, but Our entire schedule was truned upside down and the public school started much later than the Ctholic school and I was having trouble being at work 8 hours a day. My employer has a work form home policy, but as a Manager, I am not eligible, but my boss knew I spent time while at home making sure everything was running well and when I was not running Mom’s taxi, I did work late. But it was very hard. I am not looking forward to doing it all again in the Fall. I may have the responsible 5th grader get himeslf on the bus several times a week. (My neighbor will help make sure he’s at the bus stop and the school is walking distance). Oh, And we will be throwing Religious ed in the mix with Football and band. While I can hope Hubby’s next project does not require as much travel, I need to be ready for it.

  3. This will be a wonderful addition to Catholic Mom!

    I’ve always worked outside of the home and have struggled with the guilt and demands in different ways. I was blessed to contribute to Lisa Hendey’s book with a piece I wrote called “Avodah” which is Hebrew and explains how work can be worship. My boys are older now (22, 20 and 18) so the guilt is less but the demands remain the same–even while they have morphed a bit.

    To all working moms I would say this: research Saint Gianna Beretta Molla (I wish I had known about her 15 years ago) because you will find her life gives you peace and understanding in a very faith-filled way.

  4. I’m one who has often found “Catholic Mom” sites of all sorts throughout the internet to be inhospitable to working moms. Perhaps that’s because working moms have less time to congregate on the internet–I don’t know. But I’m glad to see you here.

  5. @Ginny – I’m so happy to hear I’m not alone in the crazy mornings being late all the time. I worry one day my children look back on their childhood and only remember my yelling for them to get in the car.

    @Maggie – it sounds like your family has had a big challenge this past school year. I’ll keep you in my prayers for finding a sane schedule this fall. I hope your son settles into the new school and makes some good friends. My employer also offers flex time, and has a policy for work-from-home, but the nature of my job makes it difficult/impossible. My mother lives about 35-40 miles away from me also – ironically, she lives very close to my SAHM sister and sister-in-law. She keeps their kids regularly and they see each other often, including church together. It’s a struggle not to feel envious. Still, I won’t complain because she is taking my two daughters for four-days next week for a little summer R&R “vacation” away from daycare.

    @Cheryl – now you’re going to make me admit I haven’t finished reading Lisa’s new book! Immediately after work I’m going to look up your piece about Avodah!

    @RAnn – What you said about other mom’s being inhospitable to “working moms” is why I wrote this piece originally. Other Moms can be our best supporters or our cruelest critics.

    Thank you all for making me feel welcome.

  6. Shelly, your great response here just underscores how much we need good, faith filled writing on this topic. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your time with us!

  7. Thank you, Shelly! I’m looking forward to reading more posts from you. I’m a working mom of two (6 and 3). I went back to work full-time two years ago as a reporter for the Denver Catholic Register newspaper (I’d been part-time only since becoming a mom). I struggled with the decision to work full time, but love my job and am grateful I made that decision!! I agree, it’s a constant balancing act… but through a lot of prayer, planning and organization, things always seem to fall (and I do mean “fall”) into place! 🙂

  8. Thank you for this blog! I work full time and I constantly struggle with feeling like an inadequate mom because I have to work. It is a struggle for my husband as well knowing he cant provide for us and it is especially hard for both of us because I strongly desire to be at home more but can’t right now. Please keep the blogs coming.

  9. Thanks for sharing all your experiences. i can’t help it but to feel that maybe I have a bit more harder situation . I been separated from my husband for about 4yrs nos.I have 3 kids 15b, 7g, 5g. My youngest one has some special needs. My mother who lived w me and had been a great support recently passed away.I work full time . I been getting so much unexpected support. But there still times that I don’t even know how should start my day. I could go on with my daily routines but struggles start when something comes not in the usual part of my day. I have such a strong spiritual foundation.I just have to remember that I could always talk to God and be honest that I get tired and feel inadequate as a person and as a mother. Please continue praying for all single parent that we would always depend on God esp. when we feel nothing works at the present moment.

  10. Thank you for writing about enjoying and living out your many vocations! My husband and I are Catholic elementary school teachers, and we’re expecting our first child circa New Years Eve 2012. I love teaching, and I truly believe God wants me to be in a classroom right now; however, I feel an immense amount of pressure (from close friends and a lot of Catholic literature) to be the “ideal Catholic stay-at-home-mom.” We really need both incomes to support a family, and we absolutely LOVE our workplace community but I wonder if I should be trying harder to find a way to work at home once we have our baby. Part of me really believes that teaching in a classroom is part of my vocation right now and that God will help me balance being a good teacher and a good mother, but the other part of me feels guilty (in advance!!) for having to miss some of the first-time events in our baby’s life. I’m also very driven and thoroughly enjoy having a professional life, and I think being at home all the time might drive me a bit nuts. But I can’t really speak from that point of view as I haven’t yet held my baby in my arms. Anyways, I’m praying that God will guide us in the right direction and give us a sense of peace and calm in knowing God is taking care of our family regardless.

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