Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother” by celebrating the working mothers among us. Today is the feast of Dominican St. Raymond of Peñafort, so I gotta draw some attention to my sister in St. Dominic, working mother Cristina of Filling My Prayer Closet!
What’s your name?
Tell us a little bit about your family.
Mike and I have two boys, ages 10 and 7. We moved from NYC to PA 4 years ago so that I could take care of the kids and the loss of my income would not be such a hit. Your dollar stretches a little farther here than in NYC, as you can imagine. While I was at home with the boys, I worked on obtaining my master’s degree to teach high school English. I’m still two classes away from finishing that. In those 4 years, my husband was laid off for 6 weeks, got another job, and this time it was a work from home position. He travels internationally from time to time but for the most part, he’s the stay at home Dad now.
Imagine you’re at a dinner party. Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?” What’s your answer?
“I’m an executive assistant at a business information company. I know, that’s vague. Basically, I make sure my leader doesn’t have to worry about anything administrative. I also provide comic relief.”
How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be?
My husband and I talk all the time about future planning, and options. We’re kind of obsessed with it. Let me explain. We always want to be as prepared as we can be for anything that could come up. We examine all scenarios from the logical to the irrational, and then pose a “what would we do?” question around it. That’s how I rejoined the workforce. We sat down and listed what our priorities were: better neighborhood with an even better school district, but also getting the boys into Catholic school. I’m sure you’re asking why we would worry about the school district if we were putting them in Catholic school? Well, within the first two years of being a stay-at-home mom, my husband was laid off for 6 weeks, he was on disability and I was still dealing with epilepsy in my oldest son (he’s since recovered – very rare). The thinking is, if we ever can’t afford Catholic school, at least they will “fall” into the best school district in the area.
This meant that I had to go back to work to help with the increase in expenses. I did not want to. I was so scared. I loved being home and with my babies, um boys. I was also a new convert to the Catholic faith and was worried that “work” would distract me from my faith journey. I spent some time in Adoration to pray for His will. There were three positions and I wanted one, one wanted me, and one of them was back in corporate. I did not want to go back to corporate. Ever. Well, the job I wanted never called me back (until I had already accepted the corporate job), the job that wanted me took forever to make an offer and the one I wanted, was with my Diocese. The Diocese called me the day after I accepted my the job I’m in. There was a mix up with paperwork. Turns out that my leader goes to my parish, and there are quite a few people here who also go to my parish, or are Catholic. God heard me, and placed me where he knew I would land softly. There is plenty of flexibility to see school plays, to work from home if my boys get sick, or need to go to a doctor’s appt. And now, we live across the street from our Parish and their school.
What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home?
The boys spend a lot of time with their Dad, which I love. I got to spend every day with the boys for two years while he traveled. We moved in August, and the following year, between January and July, he was home collectively, for a month. I was in a new town and knew no one. I was the one walking the dog, taking the kids to school, homework, school events, taking out the garbage, all of it, by myself. That was tough. I didn’t even know where the nearest grocery store or hospital was. So to have him with them now, he gets his turn at one on one time with the boys.
I also think that working with people who happen to also be Catholic, and seeing them at mass, week after week is just nice. Whenever I think about it, I think “nice touch, God.”
How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace?
I don’t really have guilty feelings. My commute is 10 – 15 minutes by car each way and my job / leader are flexible when I need to attend an event, volunteer at the school, or the occasional emergency pick up. The job I have now isn’t like the jobs I had in NYC. When I leave the office at 5PM, I don’t have to check email throughout the evening to keep up, nor will I get caught at 2AM making travel arrangements for someone in China, pretending to my husband that I have to use the bathroom. True story. Everything I remembered about corporate in NYC, is not corporate in PA. I have a lot of work/life balance. As cliche as it may sound, I am truly blessed with the job I have.
What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more?
We don’t really have a lot of people in our life. My husband and I moved to this area in PA practically sight unseen (we visited communities twice before deciding where we would live). We were both working 14 hour days in NYC and realized it wasn’t working for our family. We decided and moved quickly. We don’t have family here, so we are all very close; all as in my husband and the boys. I did ask that my husband take on doing his own laundry when I went back to work. He hates it. So I still do it when I can. I mean, he does take care of everything else: cooking, dishes, mopping, sweeping, dusting, grocery shopping, the list goes on and on. Are you sure you shouldn’t be interviewing him?
Hee hee. Maybe next time. Give him fair warning? Thank you, Cristina!
Are you a working mother? So was (and is) the Blessed Mother! If you enjoyed this interview and would like to celebrate working motherhood some more, please consider getting a copy of my $.99 historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother.”