I am writing this letter to you from my bedroom window of our 147 year old farmhouse in the country. I am using an old, used antique dressing table as a desk with a beautiful statue of our Lady to the right (the only place safe from chubby toddler fingers drawn to beautiful things to destroy), a rosary (used many times as an unintentional baby teether) to the left, and the rays of the setting sun coming in from the drafty window which is almost blinding but very welcomed after the end of long, hard day. There are two of you, just sleeping chubby babies, in a shared bedroom down the hall and the other four of you children are outside making wishes on yesterday’s dandelions while throwing freesbies to an energetic puppy that is running circles around you all. Your father is cutting the grass of our 8 acre field which is his all-consuming hobby once the calendar flips to May. There is the faint smell of the homemade pizza we had for dinner wafting through the walls making their way across the creaking hardwood floors and up the staircase past the placement of the numerous fans that I recently brought down from the attic in an attempt to fight the temperatures slowly rising in our non-air-conditioned home. Our life here is simple and ordinary, everyday there are multiple failures and short comings on my part, but despite it all, day after day, night after sometimes sleepless night, the warmth of the love that lives here, it grows.
It’s funny how only in retrospect can you look back on your life and see the moments that act as defining turning points in your life. I was happily chugging away at what I thought was the path to happiness: the route of prudence and productivity, degrees and distinctions, lofty aspirations wrapped in stability. I spent years working towards the attainment of all that I thought was good. A high salary was the surest way to make my perfect visions a reality. I clung tightly to control and predictability; my Type A personality always propelling me to my dreams.
It’s also funny how a life, so hidden and concealed, can change everything in an instance. I traded the degree sitting on a pedestal of that big university for a cradle in the corner of our two bedroom apartment.
It is clear to me now, almost a decade later, that instead of banking up money and advanced degrees, your father and I have banked up love; our deposits growing exponentially. I cannot possibly quantify the dividends that you six children, (six souls! meant to live for eternity!) are to us. Your lives will be woven into the fabric of a story that we cannot even begin to comprehend; the depth and breathe of your mark on all of history…we cannot fathom.
To my daughters who may one day be holding on so tightly to control and perfect plans, I am writing to you. To my daughters contemplating the ways in which choosing life for the first time (or the sixth) might hamper your happiness, I am writing to you. Between managing babies and budgets and all the laundry in between, I have found that the only way to peace and true, deep joy in the vocation of motherhood is a complete and constant abandonment to His will. Everday, all day long. Freedom comes only when we are willing to hand over and let go of all of our expectations, all of our fears, all of our anxieties, and most importantly, all of our control to Him.
It will not be easy, but nothing worth doing is ever easy. In fact if I could give you any advice to heed in life it would be to opt for the choice bearing peace over the choice bearing “ease.” If you are going to chase something in life, chase peace. Chase truth. Chase the eternal. Your life’s work, your vocation, will be a sacrifice. It will be hard. Most days it will not be about you, true love is never about you. Although, you will certainly grow and you will finally began to wrap your mind around St. Teresa of Calcutta speaking about “loving until it hurts.” I think you will find that in the midst of the hard will be the calm of peace.
Never forgot that concealed in the sacrifice rests the gift.
Motherhood is the ultimate hidden life. Who knows how many times we kiss the scrapped knees, listen to the stories, and clean up the messes? Who sees the ways in which are patience has been stretched, time after time, day after day; the growing pains, they are real! Who hears our silent cries as we get out of bed at midnight and rock the teething baby back to sleep one more time?
He knows. He sees. He hears.
To my daughters feeling lonely in this most desperately needed vocation (often times unseen and overlooked), please be assured that your ordinary days and simple sacrifices are quite literally cultural game changers; you are the hidden weapon in this fight to defend and uphold life. You are uniquely gifted with this extraordinary, holy work. Build the home, build the culture. Do not be tempted by a narrative that negates your worth and makes you question the bigness of your labors. There is nothing larger than life, nothing more prestigious than the nurturing of souls. Raise your family on love, in the freedom of His will, and the world will be left better for it. Willingly accept and humbly serve those who have been sent to you in the joyful confidence that you are making the ripples that will turn into the waves that will eventually change the tide.
I leave you this quote that is etched on my heart from Saint John Paul The Great:
“As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”
(who fails daily but is always grateful for gift of tomorrow and a fresh pot of coffee)
songs of the day
“keep me in light” by Nathan Colberg
“to leave something behind” by Sean Rowe