“Is it not enough,” she asked me earnestly, “to be a woman at home, caring for a family? Everyone around me has a job that enables her to contribute to her family financially. Even within the church, I’m bombarded every day with clarion calls to do more, to give more. And here I am doing my best to feed and clothe and care for these five children, reserving just enough energy for the end of the day and the man that I married. I feel like both the secular world and the faith community are saying it is not nearly enough. ”
I have an idea. In honor of the World Meeting on Families, let’s stop for a moment and consider the woman at home. Let’s see her, far from Philadelphia, and let’s cup her face in our hands and tell her, “Yes, you are enough.”
You, sweet mama, who can barely hold your head up for the nausea as you valiantly try to play with your toddler and you wonder how in the world your heart will hold two. You are enough. As your belly swells, so too, will your capacity to love. You suspect it never again will be the same. And you’re right. All of you will grow and you will be enough.
You, in the carpool pickup lane — you hope you don’t have to get out of the car for some reason because you dashed out of the house without your shoes on. You need to get home and supervise homework and listen with your full attention to hear what’s really at the heart of the playground scuffle. You’ll have to do something with the only-half-thawed hamburger, something that will stretch it to fill all these rumbling bellies.
You, throwing that last load of laundry in the dryer before climbing the stairs and at last relaxing into the arms of your husband — you will notice the crease between his brows. You will reach up to rub it away, and you will ask why it’s there. You will absorb his news and try to ease the ache from his shoulders and from his soul. You will be the soft place to land.
You will remember the orthodontist, and you will hear bedtime prayers. You will sign permission slips, clean out the refrigerator and gather hair into ponytails to tie with bows. You will make a house into a home.
And you will make a home into a domestic church.
You will change the world.
You think that in all this talk about family and marriage in the church, you have been forgotten. You have not.
Your role is essential. The quiet work at home learning to do those things which nurture a family physically, and so minister to your dear ones spiritually, is work done for the glory of God.
At the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, Pope John Paul II said:
“No response to women’s issues can ignore women’s role in the family or take lightly the fact that every new life is totally entrusted to the protection and care of the woman carrying it in her womb, (Cf. “Evangelium Vitae,” No. 58). In order to respect this natural order of things, it is necessary to counter the misconception that the role of motherhood is oppressive to women and that a commitment to her family, particularly to her children, prevents a woman from reaching personal fulfillment, and women as a whole from having an influence in society. It is a disservice not only to children, but also to women and society itself, when a woman is made to feel guilty for wanting to remain in the home and nurture and care for her children. A mother’s presence in the family, so critical to the stability and growth of that basic unity of society, should instead be recognized, applauded and supported in every possible way. By the same token, society needs to call husbands and fathers to their family responsibilities and ought to strive for a situation in which they will not be forced by economic circumstances to move away from the home in search of work.”
Your presence, so critical to the stability and growth of your family, is critical to the stability and growth of our culture, of our world. You have been entrusted with shoring up the most basic unit of society. On your shoulders does its foundation rest. Step into that role with your head held high.
Shoes are optional.