Where The Beautiful Stuff Is (By Catherine Kilmer)
We were on a plane from Pennsylvania back to our newlywed home in California. I looked down at my pregnant belly bumped up against the tray table and then to my side at my husband Josh. There were tears in my eyes and I wasn’t sure why this was hitting me now. “I don’t want to go back,” I confessed. Josh looked at me with love, concern, and a little confusion. “I don’t want to go back to work after the baby is born.” He appeared more relaxed now that he at least knew what I was talking about. We were pregnant with our first child, a son, and all the decisions were brand new. We had both been working for a non-profit that we loved and Josh was also in graduate school by night. Our thought was that, after the baby was born, I would take a generous 12-week maternity leave and then go back to work part-time, mostly from home, in order to keep our income up as he finished school. Initially, it had sounded like a dream job scenario: replying to emails on the couch while the baby napped, having flexible hours, and staying involved in a mission I was passionate about. I thought I might be able to work 10 or 15 hours a week—no biggie! But as that baby grew and I felt him moving and living inside me, it became clear that I wanted to give him all that I had, including my time. How many hours a week was I comfortable working? Really not 15, and not even 10… When I dug down deep (and really I didn’t have to go that deep, for God does not hide what He is asking of us), what was my honest answer? Zero.
Josh nodded and wasted no time. He pulled out a notepad from his backpack and started scribbling down a chart with Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. and hours beneath each day for work and school. After crossing out a few figures and adjusting a couple more, he figured if he upped his work hours during the week and crammed more studying into the weekends, he could keep me at home full-time. “Look,” he said, tapping at the notepad with determination. “I can do this… We can do this.”
Relief, and a smile, washed over me. I had more tears; but this time, they were of gratitude and joy.
It has not been easy, nor perfect; but with many sacrifices on the part of my loving husband and with a day here and there where I stress about the budget, we have managed to keep me home full-time with our son Henry since the day he was born; and I have found so much beauty in this.
I have found beauty in being satisfied with menial tasks comprising much of my day: sorting socks, changing diapers, scrubbing the stick off of refrigerator shelves, paying bills. Jesus is next to me when I do them! I have found beauty in nursing Henry through changing seasons: from a tiny newborn, body as light as a feather, to a tumbling toddler, chunky and strong. Jesus is in Henry’s face when I nurse him! I have found beauty in never having to wait in a grocery checkout line since I go at 10 AM on a Tuesday or losing track of time as I read books with Henry because there is nowhere else I am supposed to be. Jesus has given me the precious present moment! I have found beauty in seeing Josh grow in confidence as a husband, father, and provider as he takes care of his family and frees his wife to have a peaceful heart. Jesus is at work in my husband! And, most of all, I have seen beauty in remaining true to the woman God made me, Catherine—a daughter of God, always, and—right now—a stay-at-home wife and mommy. Jesus made me who I am!
We must be adamant about who God made us to be. That’s where we will find peace. That’s where we will feel joy. That’s where the beautiful stuff is. That’s where we will see Jesus.
Catherine Kilmer lives in Columbus, OH with her husband Joshua and son Henry. During nap time, she enjoys writing, pinning things on Pinterest she’ll probably never make, and sipping her favorite cheap Moscato. She is passionate about living her Catholic faith through marriage and motherhood.