This interview is a part of a career profile series we are doing to support and encourage each other in many different seasons and walks of life.
Hi Cynthia! Tell us a little bit about yourself. How many children do you have? What do you do?
I am a 29-year-old mother of three girls (ages 3, 1, and I’m 27 weeks pregnant with our third!). In the last year, I have transitioned from being an attorney practicing full-time in commercial litigation, to a stay-at-home mother and part-time theology teacher.
Many women say that motherhood changes them in some way or another, do you feel like this is true for you?
I feel like a more authentic and peaceful version of myself. On one hand, becoming a mother sends your life into a new level of chaos. Life with children is unpredictable and gives you an infinite list of things to worry about and plan for.
The entire process of becoming pregnant, being pregnant, and birthing a baby is humbling, raw, and challenging. And yet the challenge of motherhood is transforming. It strips you bare, exposes your faults, shows you what you need to change.
An outsider to my life might see a home cluttered with unsightly toys, a woman with unkempt hair, an attorney who gave up on her illustrious career to toil away with her children. But the truth is that I feel like I am a more virtuous, intelligent, and productive person than I was before having children.
The unsightly toys and unkempt hair are, in some ways, a victory: a victory of humility over vanity. The forsaken career is evidence, in my case, of a turning-away from the lures of excitement, affirmation, and wealth, to nurture a deeper relationship with my children, which I craved.
It’s not easy to juggle work and motherhood. You mentioned you’ve made a career change to make that work better for you and your family. Could you tell us more about your new role?
I am currently in my second semester teaching Catholic Social Thought and Public Policy at an all male Catholic high school. I only teach on Wednesdays, and I work with a curriculum that has already been developed by people more experienced than I am, so the experience has been delightful so far.
Even though I only teach two classes, and only once a week, I still find myself falling behind on grading. That’s because the endless list of tasks required to maintain a clean and organized household, combined with the exhaustion of chasing around two toddlers while pregnant, seem to sap every minute from every day!
But my new work teaching, my work “outside the home” is tremendously important, both in helping me retain my identity apart from home life, and in responding to God’s call to use my talents for the good of the greater community.
What do you love most about your job?
I absolutely love the high school students I teach. I love getting to know them, watching their minds work through problems, debate each other, and even make silly jokes. I just delight in their presence and abilities, and I feel privileged to be a part of their faith and intellectual formation.
As a (mostly) stay at home mom, I also find running my household surprisingly rewarding. Although I still have much work to do, I have spent the last six months getting our home organized, learning how to cook healthy meals, and fine-tuning our routine as a family.
The work itself can sometimes feel like drudgery, but the peace in our home at the end of the day is so rewarding, because I know I am creating an environment where work, spirituality, and health can flourish.
In your opinion, what are some of the values and qualities that a couple should strive for while balancing work, family, marriage, and everything in between?
I think the linchpin simply has to be gratitude for your spouse. Parenting is tough, so we all need to give each other charity and grace.
My husband and I try to thank each other constantly for the work we do for the family, whether that work is small (taking out the trash) or big (staying with the kids for a weekend while the other travels).
As a mom, do you have any tips or advice that help you stay grounded and centered throughout your day?
No matter which way you slice it, motherhood is demanding. Really the only way I have managed to feel peace and balance is to anchor myself in a strong prayer life. When my prayer life suffers, I tend to feel exhausted, ashamed, and insecure about my mothering skills and my career. But when I spend time in prayer, I feel calm and at peace in everything I do.
For all the millions of mothers in the world, there are a million different ways of being a mother. And for each mother, there are myriad seasons of life, opportunities, and obligations that require our adjustment. The only way to stay anchored in the midst of that chaos is to bind yourself to something you can rely on. I choose to bind myself to God.
Sometimes we just need to stop and be thankful for the struggle. To be challenged every day is a great blessing; it shows we are doing something meaningful with our lives, that we are letting ourselves be stretched.
So in the moments when we feel overwhelmed or inadequate, we should ask for the grace to recognize that struggle as a gift, the gift of being forged into stronger, more virtuous people.
You’ve got this, moms!