Monday, October 12, 2009

Bon Bons and Soap Operas

When my husband and I meet someone for the first time, we are inevitably asked what we do for a living. When Brian replies that he is in medical school and an officer in the United States Navy, they are most definitely impressed. Then they turn to me, and when I answer that I’m a full time mom and homemaker, they give me a blank stare and ask “so what do you do all day?”
I quickly crush the temptation to reply with sarcasm that I sit on the couch and eat bon bons while watching soap operas. Most people sympathize with Brian, being in medical school with a family, and wonder how he ever makes time to be with us while maintaining his high marks. What they don’t realize is that I play the supporting role to his vocation as medical student. We are a team; his job is to study and do well, mine is to take care of things at home so that he has time to regularly spend with us. So while caring for our son, managing our budget, preparing our meals, cleaning our home, washing our clothes and running our errands does not have a direct influence on his formation as a doctor; it does provide a stable, loving environment in our home. Taking care of the everyday necessities reduces the amount of stress he is under, thereby resulting in more fruitful study.
But my job does not stop there. As a Catholic student in a secular school, my husband is constantly under attack for his beliefs and defense of the truth.  Although he thrives on the challenge of apologetics, there are days when the battle is especially difficult, and the moral support and encouragement he receives from home is essential for him to be able to recharge his batteries for another day. In order to avoid burnout, we have found it crucial to surround ourselves with likeminded people who share our values. As a couple, we enjoy entertaining and have found it to be a sort of ministry in which we both can participate. Most medical students are single and away from home, so we try to host gatherings on a regular basis to foster community and times of fellowship. In a sense, I have become one of their instructors through my witness as a wife and mother, seeking to cultivate the culture of life and love by the ways I care for my husband and son. Many evenings I have found myself the only non-student present, and although I may not be able to share in the details of their classes, they often turn to me for a personal perspective on issues regarding women’s health, breastfeeding, NFP, and vaccinations to name a few.
They watched as I went through my first pregnancy and now delight with us as Joseph reaches his developmental milestones. I explained to them the reasons I desired a natural birth, and the difference in the philosophies of midwives and obstetricians. For many, I have been the first breastfeeding mother they have known personally and the one to introduce them to the attachment parenting style. I have utilized my theology degree by tag -teaming with my husband on the Church’s teachings on the dignity of the human person, marriage, human sexuality, plenary indulgences, purgatory, end of life issues, suffering, and the family as the domestic church. Through these discussions, these medical students are receiving formation more valuable than any secular ethics course would provide, as they are being equipped with moral values according to the natural law, rather than the whims of society.
Over time, I think the people who initially wondered what I do all day have begun to get an idea that I keep pretty busy. However, I know that most will never truly understand the importance nor the greatness of full time motherhood until they have travelled that road themselves.  Life as the wife of a medical student is not one that many will experience, but for those who do, I pray that they may find joy in their vocation and remember that behind most every successful man is a good woman-how blessed we are to be those wonderful women.

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