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Interview with Working Mother Grace Mazza Urbanski

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother.” Today is the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, the titular feast of the Jesuits.  What better day to interview someone who works for God through the Society of Jesus?  Let’s meet Grace Mazza Urbanski!

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Grace Mazza Urbanski

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

My husband, David, and I have five children. We married the week after I finished my undergraduate degree, and the first four children were born in the first five years of marriage. Exhausting! And thrilling. There’s roughly 18 months between each of the first four children, but a whole THREE years between the fourth and the fifth. The children insist that we’re missing someone who should have been born in that gap. They call that person the “Missing Urbanski,” and many of their friends regularly lobby to be adopted to fill the position.

By the end of this month, the children will be 18, 17, 15, 14, and 10. Things we enjoy both individually or corporately include languages, legos, movies, camping, music, theater, reading, faith, and lots and lots of company at our house.

 

Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?

I work at a Catholic (Jesuit) organization called the Apostleship of Prayer. I design prayer materials for children and travel across the country giving presentations to children and adults alike. I am able to do this now because my own five children are all in school, and they attend the school where my husband teaches Latin. They’re really good at working together to keep everything going when I need to be away.

[Erin here.  Grace also has a children’s ministry blog at PrayingWithGrace.org.]  

 

How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be? 

This job is a giant, delicious humble pie. If I write and teach about prayer, then guess what I need to be doing? Praying. I have a prideful, independent streak, and I would be the world’s biggest hypocrite if I indulged that while working in the Apostleship of Prayer. Being part of a family already helped me learn about being a team player and depending on God’s providence, but those lessons were more . . . private. I now stand on a scaffold in the public square while my sins flap in the breeze.

What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home? 

See above. A more humble, prayerful mom makes the family better. That’s a benefit because of the nature of my work. The simple fact that I work has benefits too, because it explands my worldview. I tend to get deeply involved with volunteer activities whenever I am able. With my husband working at the school my children attend, though, too much of ME in that same mix could lead us to be myopic about our little community. When I have other communities’ visions on my mind, I tend to have a better perspective on our little corner of the world.

How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace? 

My organization is extremely pro-family, so they understand when I need to make myself more available to my family at times. For example, I take the entire month of August off, just to share that sweet summer month at home. Even when people in the office tease me for that August “vacation” (it’s unpaid), I feel zero guilt. My family is my first and best work. If I neglect my family, my ministry will suffer.

What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

I’m still astonished at the lack of respect women receive in the workplace, perhaps especially in ministry. For example, a team of four young Jesuits (one priest, three in formation) was going to run a retreat at a parish. Two of the Jesuits had to cancel, so my Jesuit co-worker asked me to step in and give some of the talks (which I have done before, am totally capable of, blah, blah, blah). Then my co-worker called the parish priest who was hosting the retreat. He told the priest that the retreat team experienced a change: instead of three (non-ordained) Jesuits in formation and one Jesuit priest, the retreat team would now consist of one Jesuit priest, one Jesuit in formation, and one laywoman. The parish priest canceled the retreat. We still have work to do before the gifts of women are valued as much as men’s gifts.

Thank you, Grace!  

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.”  

Interview with Working Mother Erica Goppold

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 St. Basil the Great, patron saint of hospital administrators and other sorts who branched out into multiple fields based on where God wants him.  In honor of this day, let’s meet working mother Erica Goppold!

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Erica Goppold

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

We are a family of 3, including my husband, me, and our 9 year-old son, Matthew. We also have 2 small dogs and 3 fish. I am a degreed educator and registered nurse, my husband is an electrical engineer, and Matthew is a 4th grader at a Montessori school. We keep ourselves busy with Matthew’s nearly year-round travel baseball schedule, and love to travel to different amusement parks and beaches in our “free” time. My husband often travels for his work, so it is a lot of just Matthew and I during the week. It works for us, as we are all 3 used to it.

 

Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?

Honestly, just as when I just read this question, I literally LOL. Simply put, I am an aide in an emotional/Autistic support classroom of our local elementary school. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you what I “do” or encounter in the course of a day. Some days I am run pretty ragged by the time I get my own darling off the school bus in the afternoon….AND I am not utilizing any of my 3 college degrees to do it!! I work as support staff for right now, so I do not have the extra responsibilities that come with a professional role. I get to walk out at 3:30 and be truly done with my work for the day. I need that at this point in family life.

 

How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be? 

I often am asked “how” or “why” I do the job I do. Why don’t I pursue the professional roles I have trained so hard for and work to maintain licensure in? I truly feel called to the school and job I am in. I landed in the position by chance, while I was not even looking for work (I know, some people would give their right arm for a job.) I took it, and the children just grew on me in a way I could have never imagined. I do not make a lot of money, but I can tell you the rewards are bountiful. I like to think I make a positive difference in the days of some of these children as well. I identify as more spiritual rather than religious, and I feel that something bigger than I can explain has put me where I am supposed to be right now.
What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home? 

My son is diagnosed with Aspergers (high-funcitoning Autism) and ADHD. Through my job, I work alongside professionals in the fields of special education and various other areas of expertise, whom I learn volumes from. I take home many ideas in dealing with certain behaviors, goal-setting, driving motivation, etc. I feel empowered by what I learn and experience in a day and can apply at home. I also enjoy being surrounded by other individuals who care for and embrace these children. The love and acceptance they show, gives me hope in a sometimes harsh world that my son will be ok.
How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace? 

Mommy guilt is the worst kind of guilt. I miss out on volunteering in my son’s school during the day, which he reminds me of since I used to be there a lot before taking this job. Mostly, I just tell myself to shut up when it kicks in. I feel like no matter which path I choose as a mom, the guilt will find me in some way. I can be home and involved in his every move (he’s my only one–he would be hyper-focused upon), and what service does that do him? I can work, and maybe miss some school functions, but I am spreading my wings and being myself for several hours each day. The benefits outweigh the negativity for me.
What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

I wish I had support in the sense that I have friends and family who like to comment on the fact that I work despite that fact that I “do not have to.” Admittedly, our pantry would still be well-stocked and our vehicles full of gas if I did not work. However, my choice to work is a personal one, and it certainly does not bring us any undo harm. That and “mommy wars” need to stop. The grass is always greener. Whether you choose to stay home or “lean in,” we are all equal as moms caring for our children. Let us embrace each other’s’ differences and choices.

 

Thank you, Erica!  

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.”  

We interrupt this ebook launch…

… as I work on the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Meto bring you another silky smooth line from our love interest, Dr. Gene Marcasian.

“Yes, I want you safe,” he murmured against my ear, “but not at the cost of your trust.”

I dropped my hands from my face and hugged Gene as tightly as I could.  How could I let go of this man?  But, with his mind so different from mine, how on earth was I going to keep holding on?

Meanwhile, back at Amazon:

Working Mother” is just one rank under something from the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.

Forgive me for saying it, but it needs to be said.

I.  Can’t.  Even.  

Thanks to all of you who’ve supported the launch of “Working Mother.”  I hope it’s touched your heart even half as much as it touched–and healed–mine to write it.  This has been a much-needed shot in the arm.