In the three short years that Andrew and I have been married, we have already written multiple chapters together. I graduated with my master’s degree just two weeks before our wedding, and just one week after returning from our honeymoon in Disney World, we learned that we were pregnant for the first time. Just a few weeks later, I started working full-time at my parish as both the Director of Religious Education and the Youth Minister. That February, we welcomed the newest member of our little family, John Thomas Whitmore, and brought him home.
During the past three years, Andrew’s work life has been fairly constant. He has been working towards his doctorate, which has taken different forms at different times. During my first pregnancy, he was preparing for his comprehensive exams, which he took just three weeks after John had been born. For the better part of two years, Andrew has been working on his dissertation and teaching one or two classes per semester. In addition, he has also been working part-time at the National Shrine the entire time.
All of this is going to change in just a few short months. For one, we will be welcoming another member to our family in August. Surprisingly enough though, that will be one of the final major changes in our lives. First, Andrew will finish teaching at Catholic U this May, when his five years of funding run out. Then, I will leave the position that I have held for the past four years, hopefully becoming a stay-at-home mom (it remains it be seen if I will need a part-time position after leaving). The following day we will move two hours away, becoming official residents of Virginia. We’ll have just a few short weeks to adjust to our new home before welcoming our baby home, and just a week later, Andrew will begin his new job (the reason for most of the other changes in our lives).
All of these changes are bittersweet (well, mine are- I don’t think Andrew is too upset that he’ll be finishing his dissertation in the near future). I have worked at St. Ignatius for four years years now, three years more than I originally intended. I was hired as a part-time DRE while I finished my master’s degree, but that position expanded to include a youth ministry component after I graduated. I have absolutely loved my time at St. Ignatius, and I will never forget the countless adults, teens, and children who have changed my life. It will be a sacrifice to leave this incredible parish, but it is a sacrifice I am willing to make for our family, and particularly my husband.
I have served as the primary breadwinner for our family for the entirety of our marriage, though Andrew’s supplementary income from his teaching and part-time work at the National Shrine has been vital as well. For the first time ever, I will not be the breadwinner for our family. In fact, I might not be earning any money for our family once I leave St. Ignatius. I might become a strictly stay-at-home mother, and all of my responsibilities will be within my home.
I am happy to take a step back so that Andrew can finally do what he has been preparing for these past five years. I never intended to remain a full-time employee once we had children. I was fortunate that, considering our circumstances, I was able to continue working full-time, though I was able to do some of my hours at home. On the days that I went to work, Andrew stayed home with John. It was a complicated arrangement, but it worked for us, at least as a temporary solution to our problem. The sacrifices have been many- minimal family and couple time, as well as a rigidity of schedule that has made it difficult to incorporate random meetings, lectures, and discussion groups. But we have made it work.
We made it work because we had to. Now it looks like we won’t have to anymore, and so I am thrilled to welcome these new changes in our lives. Beginning this August, Andrew will serve as a professor of moral theology at Christendom College in Virginia. I will begin my life as a stay-at-home mother to not one, but two, children. As much as I will miss serving as the DRE and youth minister at St. Ignatius, a workplace that has also been my home and family during these past four years, I am so excited to finally be able to stay home with my children every day.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!