The Best of Plans…well, you know what they say…


I am not in control! And I’m upset about that!

My mom told me at an early age to stop worrying so much about having the perfect plan. That’s exactly what I did yesterday when I promised a new post! I had the perfect plan, and it was GOOD! No, it was GREAT! But, I left all of my writing thoughts in a bag at work! This is where juggling so many priorities slows you down…when you drop one of the balls, you realize, “I’m not in control!”

And to that, I say, “THANK GOD!”  Honestly, we are not in control of outcomes.  We are only in control of our free will.  I had to learn this lesson very early in my career.  The decisions I make in my line of work could one day make life easier for another, and on another day, could lead to life vs. death.  As a college administrator, we are dealing with humans who are complex, and you can only control your decisions, and not the outcome of those decisions.  I learned to make the best decisions I could at the time, and to PRAY!  Yes, I pray at work.  Yes, I pray about my decisions.  Yes, I turn it over to God.

This brings me to what I originally wanted to write about, which is how we as women who work may carry a large burden of guilt that we need to let go of.  Particularly this week, we may be having lots of guilt as we drop our kids off at school after such a tough weekend.  You are not alone…the feeling is mutual.

I work.  I work because I have to provide financially for our family’s needs.  Notice I said, “needs,” and not “wants.”  Next year will be the first time EVER the Hubby and I have taken the kids on vacation, ourselves!  No help from the parentals, thank you very much.  90% of the financial flow in this house is for need.  Our kids were last in their classes to get cell phones (you can confirm this!).  The only reason the 17 year old has one is because she drives, and it makes me nervous.  The 14 year old…I admit, wore me down.  That’s probably 3% of the 10% of financial “want.”

This week, I’ve been upset about Newtown.  I keep thinking, “Why do I have to go to work??  All I want to do is hug my babies and keep them close.  If only we were financially free, we could be homeschooling the children, and REALLY living the Catholic lifestyle.”  That’s when my guilt kicks in.  The voices of past friends reminding me, “Why would you even have kids if you’re going to turn them over to day care for others to raise?”  UGH!  How I wanted to really unleash my internal momma bear on them!  But, I would just look at them and say, “Yes, please pray for me.”

But now my guilt is kicking in again.  The truth is, I’ve prayed to God for just that lifestyle…I would be an EXCELLENT homeschool teacher.  I’ve got ideas out of the wazoo!  I’ve prayed, and I’ve felt the tug…but the door has never opened…So, I keep praying, and I keep listening.  The main thing I keep doing is using my faith as the core of my identity, the core of who I am, the core of my decision-making, and living a fully Catholic lifestyle.

I have to bring the guilt to the Cross of Christ.  This Advent, I am bringing it to the Creche…and today, through the Gospel, I am remembering, “…for nothing will be impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37).  I cling to that promise.  It is a PROMISE!

What does it mean to “bring it to the Cross?”  I used to get so frustrated hearing that message!  “Bring it to the Cross, Mary…” people would say, very easily, I might add, when The Hubby was in a coma.  I wanted to say, “And do what with it???”  Then I would hear, “Pick up your cross, Mary.  It’s the Christian way.”  WAIT…Do you want  me to leave it at the cross, or pick it up and bear it?  I’m so confused!

Then I ran across a beautiful passage of Scripture.  Jeremiah 29:11.  Jeremiah was a prophet, chosen by God to announce the destruction of Jerusalem, if the people did not repent.  Jeremiah was sent to do an “impossible” task, and definitely had a hard time grasping this task.  But God’s word is timely for the Israelites and Jeremiah himself:

For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe!  plans to give you a future full of hope.”  Listen to verse 12 through 14…this is the kicker for me, “When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you.  When you look for me, you will find me.  Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the Lord, and I will change your lot…

It is both a “Nailing it to the cross,” and a “carry your cross,” – not either or.  It is reminding myself that I will feel guilt for not staying at home, not being closer to the children always, not being everything they need me to be (carrying my cross); AND I will also turn to God for help and assistance…and that He has final authority on the plans for my life – whether He calls me to work inside the home, or outside of the home.  My job is to cooperate and make decisions in line with His will.

Whether I work outside or inside of the home, my hope is in God.  My focus is on the One who created us to know, love and serve Him.  For those of you who work, you can do that through your very work…sanctifying it all to God.  These are not new concepts (see Saint Jose-Maria Escriva!).

On train tracks

The Wallace Family – Daughter #3 is on the end…She’s 11! We forgive her for pulling for the University of Alabama…It really gives her character, but doesn’t go so well during championship games!

This Advent, the nation has been shaken with an unthinkable tragedy.  As a mom, I am hugging the children much closer to my heart, making sure they hear me say “I love you,” and making sure I hear about their day.  On Monday, I asked daughter #3 (11 years old), “What did you guys do and talk about at school today?”  She said, “Momma, we practiced active shooter crisis drills.”  My heart sank to the ground…this is a different world.  An 11 year old shouldn’t understand the term, “active shooter.”  I wanted to write my resignation letter right then and there.  Instead, I said, “Tell me what you did…”  She lovingly told me how the teachers are really caring at her school, and how they would definitely hide the kids. It reminded me of the teachers at Sandy Hook.  It reminded me of the teacher who survived, and told her kids she loved them as they heard bullets echoing off the walls as they hid in the bathroom.  Who says God isn’t in public schools?  That teacher was Christ for those children.  I realized in the conversation with my daughter that the decisions (which I can control) about where to send the children for school, matched my hoped for outcome (which I cannot control) of Love.  Love. Love.

For nothing will be impossible with God.  Drop the guilt…bring it to the Cross and carry the Cross.  Be the best parent you can be, praying to God daily for your beautiful children who honestly belong to God.  Our kids are well taken care of by someone during the day not because we have others raising the kids, but because we are raising our kids, we made decisions in their best interest.  We are also catechizing them in a way they know their faith.  We have to do our best, and leave the rest to God.

During these last few days of Advent, think of what you will bring to the Creche.  I want to bring my guilt at having to juggle so many different priorities, knowing that sometimes I drop the ball.  I also want to bring everything that makes me a mom…my nurturing attitude, my love, my relational core…I also want to bring my BIG THANKSGIVING to the Baby Jesus that we are blessed to have the 4 beautiful babies on loan.

3 Strategies to Drop the Guilt and Enjoy the Holy Days ahead:

1.  Many of you will be getting extra time off at work.  Spend this time focused on your vocation…your true vocation of wife, mother, spiritual mother, defender of the faith!  If you have kids…spend as much time with them doing simple things together that they enjoy.  My girls like to bake.  We are baking crazy at Christmas.  I know that will be part of our equation this week.

2.  Send a family card of prayers and thanksgiving to Fr. Luke Suarez.  Fr. Luke is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish in Newtown, CT.  Along with MSGR Weiss, Fr. Luke is responsible for the wakes and funerals of approximately 1/2 of the victims of the 12/14/12 tragedy.  This means not only the logistics of services, etc., but the spiritual guidance of a parish, and at times, a community.  Not only is he struggling through this tragedy, he is getting hate mail and threats.  As a family, send him love and prayers to negate the hate.  Here is the address to send cards (as published by his sister):  Fr. Luke Suarez; 46 Church Hill Road; Newtown, CT. 06470.

3.  Pray the Rosary each day.  Of course, this one extends well beyond the break.  Praying the Rosary, especially reflecting on the Joyful and Sorrowful mysteries, help me to drop my guilt, and focus on Christ and His Mother.

Empty creche

Ready for the baby Jesus!

May the peace of this Advent season, and the upcoming Christmas season be with you and your family.  From the Working Catholic Mom, who will be spending lots of time with her beautiful babies these next 14 days…Peace of Christ to all…and to all, a good night!    Send article as PDF   


  1. I love it! Keep em coming!

  2. Mr. Kotter says:

    Great post Doc!!! As a teacher i often wonder what I would do in the situation the Sandy Hook teachers found themselves in. What I do know is that they are recieving their reward in heaven for the beautiful work they did here on earth.

    And Roll Tide!

    • Mr. Kotter (Or should I perhaps say, “Scott?”)

      You are a great teacher, and I know your students are blessed to have you care so much about them. Teachers are a special breed; brother-in-laws are as well.

      Love you and Kelley both.


  3. Nailing it to the cross AND taking up our cross…. our faith is full of paradoxes, and I, too, am learning to embrace them and even enjoy their mystery – instead of my usual M.O. of trying desperately to figure out the black and white of it all. Sometimes the “either/or” answer is simply, Yes. :) And honestly, it’s nice to know that our God and our Faith is bigger than we can figure out.

    I know your audience is mostly Catholic, so the Rosary is already familiar and near and dear to most of your readers. It’s not a practice I have grown up with or ever practiced, so at some point I’d love for you to blog about how in particular praying the Rosary helps you, changes you, moves you. I have recently read more about the Rosary, so I do know the basics, but would love to hear from you on the topic. Maybe your Catholic readers would benefit as well.

    I love your candid blogging, being willing to share your struggles, your triumphs and your working through them! As moms (working outside the home or not) I think we all need to have more open and genuine conversations about our faith and our roles as women. (I seem to recall that our openness and authenticity with each other was something we loved as friends in college, too. :))

    So, Kudos to you, Mary! Keep up the great blogging!

    • Kim,

      Your comments are really moving me tonight. I am blessed to have a friend in you. I wish we were closer in proximity. I love you and Leon so much, and miss you guys!

      I just finished a post about journeying toward the Epiphany. However, my next post, which I will do in a couple of days will be about the Rosary. And, I will link some things to it for sure for all those newbies to that prayer, and for all of us to be reminded that Mary always leads us to her Son, Our Lord.

      Thank you, Kim! I love you plenty! Thank you for the support. I just also linked your blog to my blog roll. You have lots to say, and it needs to be shared and read by many!


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