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  • Mary Shivanandan

What Do You Do?

By Alice Knaeble.

“You’re engaged! Wow! That’s so exciting.” I’ve been blessed to hear these words a lot recently as I just became the fiancé of a wonderful Catholic man. After a healthy round of congratulations, laughter, and looking at my ring, the conversation turns to the inevitable: “what’s next?”

You might think that the question is a bit redundant, I just told the asker that I was engaged, ergo the next step is marriage. That’s not where the question is pointing though. You see, I am in my final weeks of completing a master’s degree in theology and bioethics and after that I had planned to go to nursing school to become a Nurse Practitioner and Midwife. I was also hoping to get married, have kids, and homeschool them, but I wasn’t sure when that would happen, and I thought I might do both: raise a generous number of children in the Faith and have a career.

However, the more I am faced with the tangible reality of an upcoming marriage and (God willing) children, the more I am certain that, not only is my big “V” Vocation marriage, but that I desire my little “v” vocation to be living that out as a homeschooling mom. The career that I thought was so essential to my person, is still desirable, but no longer essential.

After getting engaged and turning my focus away from the career ladder, I’ve caught myself saying, almost apologetically, “I’m just getting married.”

Now, I live in DC… Which is probably one of the most status and success driven cities in the world. I had to learn when I first got here that every single party involves wine and cheese, that business casual is the only way to dress for the grocery store, and that you will be asked, at least a few times a day: “what do you do?” or, more often in my case, “what career do you plan to pursue after you get your Masters?” After getting engaged and turning my focus away from the career ladder, I’ve caught myself saying, almost apologetically, “I’m just getting married.” Indeed, it took my mother to remind me not to say “just” (Mom: “it’s not that you are just getting married, you are entering an honorable and worthwhile vocation!), for me to realize how affected I had been by our culture. You see, I know deep down that my vocation to marriage and motherhood is just as worthwhile as being a physician, politician, academic, research scientist, etc., but I have been so surrounded by the opposite rhetoric--that women can and should have it all, high powered career and husband and children--that I began to believe, at least superficially, that it was somehow lacking of me not to.


After some prayer and reflection upon this, I now much more confidently answer the “what do you do?” or “what’s next?” types of questions. I even like to add that I really hope to get pregnant soon after I am married because I would love to be a stay-at-home mom. Now, sometimes when I say this, I just get a weird look. However, more often, especially when I say it to other young women my age, I get a different reaction. At first it is, albeit, a look of slight shock at the bluntness and simplicity of my desires for life, and then the reaction is usually gratitude. “Wow! I so rarely hear people being honest about that.” Or, “Own it! I wish more women would talk about that.”

I think that some women can balance an intense career and having children well--I do not think that I can, and furthermore, I do not desire to do so.

Women with a Vocation to marriage and a desire to stay home to raise their kids should not feel like they are taking the easy road, being lazy, or that their “career” path is not worthy of pride. And, as a disclaimer, I think that some women can balance an intense career and having children well--I do not think that I can, and furthermore, I do not desire to do so. I believe that this is a perfectly legitimate stance, as evident from Catholic tradition and simply in the nature of human persons.

Now, let me say that I do have other interests outside of the home and children. I think these interests are necessary for a healthy intellectual life and for serving my community well. Ultimately, I think that my varied interests will also help me to be a better wife, mother, and child of God.

So, my charge to you, if God is placing the desire for the Vocation of marriage in your heart, be bold and talk about it! It is a stance that is becoming rare, almost ostracizing. Let’s make marriage and family attractive and admirable again!


Alice Knable is a 24 year old Catholic currently living in D.C. She has studied at Baylor University and The John Paul II Institute. She is passionate about medicine and faith and is pursuing a degree as a nurse midwife (and stay-at-home mom!).


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