On being a stay-at-home mom

On being a stay-at-home momI love this time of year…  It’s a time for new beginnings. Autumn is in the air, some of my favourite saints’ feasts are approaching, and it’s time to go back to school- a new academic year, a new pencil case, new books,  a new class, new learning experiences and a new chance to start again. For most of my life I have looked forward to the back-to-school ritual (once reconciled to the fact that going back is inevitable!) both as a student and as a teacher.

For now, though, I am not going back to school because, for the moment, I stay home and take care of our toddler. As a family, we are so blessed to be in a position where I can be home with her.

However, I confess, when people ask me what I do, or where I work, I struggle. I used to think the job title was the problem. I experimented with other answers- “full-time mum”, “I don’t work”, “French teacher turned mum”, “recovering teacher”. I’m puzzled that, despite loving my job, I haven’t fully embraced my job title. Recently, however, I have begun to realise it’s not the job title that’s the problem.

As, one by one, my new mommy friends go back to work, it’s clear that I am an anomaly. When I lose another friend, I ask them, “How are you feeling about going back to work?” I have been surprised by the responses I get: “My little one needs to go to crèche to be around other children and learn how to socialise”, or “I need to go back to work for stimulation”, or even “My career comes first”.

Being a stay at home mom is counter-cultural. Really counter-cultural. In our society, it’s the norm to send children to crèche while parents go out to work. In Ireland, a crèche place costs around €1000 so, for two children, the mother needs to earn over €30,000 just to cover childcare costs. Yet despite these high costs, the crèches are packed, there are long waiting lists, and the majority of mothers are leaving their babies and heading back to work.

Returning to the issue of my job title, I now realise that the real problem is how society views motherhood. In the eyes of many, motherhood is no longer a gift; it’s a choice and sometimes even a chore. Should you choose ‘yes’, motherhood can be outsourced to crèches, nannies and child minders. Motherhood has become devalued.  When I say I am a stay-at-home mum, I can sometimes almost sense people pitying me because I can’t get a ‘real’ job, I am wasting my skills and talents or because I have to look after a child all day.

So, to those people for whom my choice is incomprehensible, I would say that there is no other job I would rather do! I am so blessed that I can look after our daughter. Every day is a new adventure: she discovers something new, she learns a new word, we smile and laugh together, we have fun. Each day, our relationship grows and our bond is strengthened. It’s the most special job in the world because staying home with her allows me watch her grow, help her learn to walk, wipe away her tears and, above all, I can fully live my vocation to motherhood, rather than submit to society’s expectations. I can be who I was made to be. I wouldn’t trade this job for anything!

The Beat of the Heart

The Beat of the Heart #BISsisterhood

I will never forget hearing my baby’s heart for the first time. It was at my first pregnancy appointment with my doctor, around 10 weeks. “Let’s see if we can hear the heartbeat”, the doctor said, reaching for her doppler. Huh? I hadn’t expected to be able to hear my baby’s heartbeat so soon. I lay down nervously and anxiously. What if there was no heartbeat? The doctor searched for a few moments, which seemed like ages, with her listening device. Dumdumdum. A flicker of a heartbeat was amplified by the doppler. The doctor put the doppler back on that spot. Dumdumdumdumdum. That was it. That was my daughter. Dumdumdumdumdum. Throughout the pregnancy, that became a familiar sound at check-ups with my doctor. As the months went by, my nerves subsided and I looked forward to hearing our baby’s heart beat away, getting stronger and louder each visit.

Baby T was born last spring. Happy, healthy, tiny. So tiny. I look at her. I think of her beating heart. Did you know that your heart is about the same size as your fist? Her fist must have been the size of a small strawberry… Life is truly a miracle.

Recently we celebrated the solemnity of the Sacred Heart. I regularly listen to Catholic radio and on this day, there was an interview with three medical doctors who had recently visited Lanciano and had viewed the Eucharistic miracle.

I had never heard of the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano before. The miracle dates back to the year 750. A monk, who doubted the real presence of Jesus, was saying Mass. During the consecration, the host miraculously changed into heart muscle, and the wine turned to blood. The heart can be seen to this day in the cathedral in Lanciano. Studies have confirmed that the flesh and blood is of human origin. The blood type is AB, which matches the blood type on the Turin Shroud. Of course, believers should not need proof. This miracle is a reminder of what happens every time Mass is celebrated.

The host elevated at the consecration. I have a new perspective. I see Jesus Christ’s Sacred Heart. I hear the dumdumdum of a human heartbeat. I look up. Jesus I love you. Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross for our salvation.

This post is part of the Blessed Is She link-up on the theme of heart.

A 1 Year Old’s Schedule: Eat, Sleep, Play, Repeat

eat sleep play repeat sample schedule 12 month 1 year old talking about family blogEver wondered what a one year old does all day? Here’s a typical day for Teresa. She’s just turned 12 months old and has always had a baby-led schedule!

7:30        I wake up, usually in my cot, ready to start the day

8              Breakfast time talking about familyDaddy gives me milk while he has his breakfast. I nibble his toast, Weetabix or fruit too, depending on how hungry I am. Then Mummy changes me and dresses me for the day

10           If the weather is good, we sometimes walk to Mass. I fall asleep in my pram. Otherwise, we play at home. I am good at independent play in the mornings. I also like to crawl about, pull myself onto my feet and flick through some of my favourite books. This is when Mummy gets jobs done, like tidying up, doing the laundry and sometimes cooking the dinner in advance, if she’s really organised!

11           Milk time again! I often have a little snack too, especially if I didn’t eat much at breakfast.

11:30     If we stayed home, I tend to have a nap now, and wake up just in time for lunch! If I have already had a nap, I play play play!

1              Lunchtime! Mummy sings grace, which makes me smile. Sometimes I put my hands together. I am a pescatarian, which means I eat fish but I don’t eat meat, just like my Mummy. Now that I have 7 teeth, I usually have what she’s having; salmon, broccoli and cous-cous, Spanish omelette, vegetables…. I like to be able to feed myself, so finger food is the best! I have a little drink of water with my lunch, and sip it throughout the afternoon. I like to have fruit for dessert too. My favourite fruit are blueberries, grapes and apple slices. They make good snacks too.

2              We are often out and about in the afternoon. Sometimes we run errands, and sometimes we meet Daddy during his lunch break. It is nice to see him during the day, and sometimes he shares a little bit of his lunch with me!

3:30        Nap time again! I sometimes nap in my pram, but prefer to nap in Mummy’s bed. She is studying and has a lot of books to read, so I snuggle next to her.

annabel karmel sweetcorn fritter talking about family blog5:30        Dinner time. I eat what Mummy and Daddy are eating… tuna pasta (I like a bit of garlic bread too!), lentils, fish fingers, vegetables and a few chips. My new favourite food is Annabel Karmel’s sweetcorn fritters. After dinner, we say our prayers together.

6:30        I play with Daddy. He is so much fun! We build blocks, roll a ball back and forth, go through my activity book, ride on my pink horse. We also do walking practise! I can’t wait to get moving on my own! I usually have a bath in the evening too.

7:30        I have my last milk feed of the day. I have been drinking cow’s milk for a month and I love it! I am usually in my pyjamas at this stage. If I have lots of energy, I play a bit longer and sometimes have an extra drop of milk

8              It’s almost bed time. Recently, Daddy has been reading me bedtime stories. I like to help by turning the pages.

8:45        Off to the land of nod. I dream about the adventures tomorrow will bring!

7QTs: Early Mornings, Journaling and a 1st Birthday

7qts talking about family

Another week has flown by! I’m linking up again with Kelly from This Aint the Lyceum for 7 quick takes on the week that was!

  1. Marriage Referendum – Next month, there will be a referendum in Ireland to redefine marriage. If the ‘yes’ side win, then Ireland will become the first country to introduce same sex marriage following a referendum. Last Friday saw the launch of the ‘no’ campaign. Its going to be an interesting few weeks.
  2. Sleeping Baby T

    I can’t believe this little girl is one!

    1st Birthday My baby is now a toddler! We had a lovely day, a walk to see some deer, a small family lunch, presents, coffee cake (homemade!). I was worried the excitement would be too much, but even though she’s only one, I think baby T had a lovely day!

  3. Early Mornings As baby is only napping once a day at the moment, I’m trying to find more time in the day to get things on my wishlist (things I would like to do but aren’t important enough to make the to do list) done. Husband suggested I get up an hour earlier… now, this seems like an obvious, fair suggestion but since becoming a mum, I have learned that I take the sleep where I can, so this was a painful suggestion. Anyway, Tuesday and Friday mornings I woke up an hour early, bright eyed and bushy tailed and crossed off a few things on my to do list and my wishlist, which gave me a great start to the day. I might try and make a habit of it!
  4. Spiritual Journal I used to keep a spiritual, or a prayer journal, and I found it really helped my faith develop. Somewhere along the way, the practice ceased, until this Lent, when I started journaling again in the Blessed Is She Lenten Journal. I vowed I would continue but there was a slight delay between finishing the old one and starting the new. I am glad to say before the delay became prolonged, I have started journaling again!
  5. Toddler Book On the subject of journaling, poor baby’s baby book has gaping holes in it and the idea of going back to fill in the gaps is, at the moment, a daunting prospect. So, while I was shopping for a spiritual journal, I also bought a toddler book, to mark the start of a new era!
  6. sewing seedsGardening Lots of seeds to be sown in April, and time is running out! I planted tomatoes and beetroot in seed trays, and put some rocket and garlic in containers.
  7. Studying and blogging Did I ever mention I am doing a part-time distance learning MA in Applied Theology? I’m currently doing a module in the socio-political context of the family. It’s incredibly interesting and challenging, and there is a lot of reading and information to take on board. I have decided a good way to process my thoughts would be to write some short blog posts about key aspects of the subject. Watch this space!

Thank you Kelly for hosting! For more quick takes, visit This Aint the Lyceum!