Dear Rachel Susanne,
First I have to say that I am SO VERY thankful that you have been given the strength to stay at home with your baby despite the seeming societal disapproval you encounter all around you.
I think you should most definitely start going to Mass ever Sunday with your husband and baby. You WILL find support from the Church and you will find that you can better focus on becoming the Catholic you want your children to be. Go to all of the after Mass functions to get to know the community. Participate!
Find out if the Church has a mom’s group or playgroup, if not you can find one in your area. Playgroups tend to be stay-at-home moms who get together during the day and it is wonderful support! Your children have other children to play with and more importantly you have other moms to relate with! Here is one place to start: http://www.matchingmoms.org/
On this website moms can make a profile and then search by zip code for other moms nearby that you relate with, children’s ages, religion, etc. Also, the website lists playgroups, go to “find playgroups”, especially if your Church doesn’t have something.
You can always start a playgroup too, post something at your Church, talk to other moms with young children, tell them that you are looking for other stay-at-home moms to get together with. You will find real friends who support you and who, when they invite you, say that the children are always welcome too of course! You will eventually find someone you can trust with Gabriel so that you and your husband can go on a date again.
Remember that you don’t have to explain yourself to others, but there are things you can say if you choose. Let them know that you absolutely love being a stay-at-home mom! Advise them that it is something you wouldn’t give up for the world. Your children are only young once. You can have a career, education or whatever when they start school or move out. It is never too late for those things but Gabriel will only take his first steps once! You want to be there for every precious little smile and giggle and you want to be the one to hold him close when he is hurt, sad and angry. Also, you can advise the mom who “can’t afford it” and the mom who says “you are so lucky” that you and your husband have had to make a lot of sacrifices but it is well worth every moment with your precious Gabriel and the peace of mind knowing how he will be raised. What a silly question to ask what you do all day!! Your day is very busy from cleaning, cooking and shopping to the most important chore of sharing the day with Gabriel, learning from him, teaching him and watching him grow. Being a Catholic, a wife and a mom should be the number one roles in your life and, if you allow it, you will find it is more fullfilling than any other “career.” Our children make us better people, there is such a joy in teaching our children of God and the Church and they will in turn show us a profound unconditional love for God we may have forgotten.
I think you should tell your husband that you need an hour a day of alone time. Suggest that he can do some father-son bonding so that you can exercise, read or even just shop alone. You will feel healthier and more confident if you do get some exercise time in. My husband usually does most of the bedtime ritual with our children – bath, pjs, books and that gives me an hour to clean up after dinner without much interruption. It also gives him some one-on-one time with the children. Another thing I try to make a point of – always making sure I feel nice, a little makeup, nice, clean clothes (not always easy with three little ones) and never late for an appointment. It makes me feel better to not look like a rushed, haggard mom of three. Also, I strongly suggest that you consider Natural Family Planning to further enhance your relationship with your husband and God!
You are in my prayers! Lovingly,
A proud stay-at-home Mom of three so-far.