A Vocation to Motherhood

This is me on my last day as a flight instructor:
Scanned from a Polaroid, but isn't it awesome?
My student is totally pointing at my belly.

Well, I guess not quite. This was my last flight, one month to the day before Jack was born. But I was still teaching a couple of ground school classes right up until the end. The husband had to call my boss on the way to the hospital to tell him I was going to miss my class that night.

Because I hadn't quit yet. Because I wasn't sure if I wanted to.

Honestly, I had never been a real "baby person." They are adorable, sure. But they seemed awfully needy. And I hadn't really known any babies very well since my sister was born 22 years previously. So I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about sitting around all day looking at one.

My mom had worked, and I don't remember it ever bothering me as a child. (If you ask nicely in the comments I bet she'll tell you the story of what happened the day she went back to work after my sister was born.)

And wasn't I rather overqualified to be just a mom? I had two degrees and had only recently acquired enough flight hours to start applying for airline jobs. I figured that was out of the question, at least in the short term. But I thought maybe I would want to keep flight instructing locally.

The husband was in business school, so my pitiful little income was all we had besides his savings. (Saving hadn't really occurred to me before I met him.) And my parents and I had invested a lot in my education and preparation for the job market. I already owned all the books and gear and had just finished organizing and standardizing the whole ground school curriculum. Didn't I owe it to my parents, and my students, and my flight school, and myself to go back?

Then . . . baby Jack was born. And a funny thing happened. I became a mother.

And all those things that had bugged me about other people's babies were totally awesome in my baby. And even the things that weren't totally awesome were manageable.

I realized that while I enjoyed being a pilot, my vocation was to motherhood. I realized that nothing else would fulfill me in the way that dedicating myself to motherhood would. The hilarious stuff, and the adorable stuff, and the tedious stuff, and the boring stuff, and the gross stuff, all of it. I realized that this was the path God had chosen for my sanctification.

Once I knew those things, it was just a question of logistics, and of allowing myself to trust God and my husband to provide for our family. They say, "Every baby comes with a loaf of bread." In our case it has been true.

I didn't learn much from the husband's time at business school (I believe that he did.) But I do remember the concept of "sunk costs" really resonating with me. Whatever time or money I had invested in my career was already gone. To make decisions for the future based on sunk costs is a bad way to run your business. It's an even worse way to run your family.

And I have been amazed by the way that things I learned and experienced and prepared for to be a flight instructor really have turned out to be applicable in my life as a mother.

Well, not that literally.
I guess it didn't help much here.
But what could prepare you for that?
(He was supposed to be getting dressed for Mass.)

Now, my vocation is not every woman's vocation. I believe that some women must have a dual vocation, as it were -- to motherhood and to a profession for which they are uniquely gifted. Saint Gianna Molla, for instance, had a vocation to motherhood and to medicine, both of which allowed her to give a beautiful witness of love to the world before she died. And, as my family has settled into a manageable routine lately, I have felt called to write as well as to mother. But I am grateful that it can all be done while my babies are sleeping (sometimes while they are sleeping on me).

I am so very grateful to God and to my husband that I am able to stay home with my children. I know some women must work to support their families. I think they make a great sacrifice to do so.

As I look back on my early days of motherhood, I realize that it was my indecision that saved me, really. If I had been decided on going back to work I may have followed some of the terrible advice I read about starting my baby on bottles "just in case" and being sure to leave him with other people so we would both "get used to it." I shudder to think about what I would have lost. I'm so glad I put off my decision, and allowed myself to be devoted to motherhood in those first weeks and months.

When I did go back to my flight school again it was just to gather my things, and I brought my baby with me.

It hasn't all been cupcakes and pony rides since then. But I have always been comforted by the conviction that I am where I'm supposed to be.

I think that the best place for my babies to be has been with me. But babies are resilient. They probably would have been great in another situation as well. I think more importantly, the best place for me to be has been with my babies. In saying "yes" to God's plan for my life I have been blessed in ways I couldn't have imagined before. These children are my vocation and they are perfecting me day by day.

This little nerd, for instance, is working on my humility.