As we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day today, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for a good love story. I’m biased in that I particularly like the love story I share with my spouse.
Unlike many of our other Catholic friends who met and married young, often during or right after college, my husband and I met after we had both hit the age 30 mark. (We mentioned this recently to our twin 6 year old daughters and both their mouths dropped open, agape at the thought that mommy and daddy are older than 30! “We didn’t realize you were THAT old!” one of them said.)
We met on a Catholic dating website. I had been praying to meet a man who knew and was familiar with St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. At the time, my now husband was spearheading efforts in his young adult community to get more people interested in the work. He was leading a TOB book club/discussion group! I wasn’t supposed to show up in his field of potential candidates because of where I lived at the time, but somehow my profile pinged across his screen and he contacted me. He always jokes that by the time he realized how far away I lived, it was too late.
The rest is, as they say, history. A history that, as we approach ten years of having known one another, is packed with adventures. We dated long-distance, got engaged, got married, moved, got pregnant with not one but—surprise!—two babies, and settled where we now live. The past years of our married life together have been full of weathering hardships and celebrating blessings.
Being a stay-at-home mom and concentrating fully on our kids and home was something I had always dreamed of, but I also deeply enjoyed my work.
And one hardship neither of us thought we’d have to weather together was this pandemic that changed everyone’s lives almost two years ago. In God’s providence, we had just gotten pregnant with our third child. I had been working part-time outside the home and we made the decision that it would be best for me to stay home full-time with our children.
I’ll admit that I was initially very torn about this change in our lives. Being a stay-at-home mom and concentrating fully on our kids and home was something I had always dreamed of, but I also deeply enjoyed my work. I loved making a difference in the lives of my patients on a daily basis. (I worked as an audiologist.) My profession combined so many things I loved, from technology to counseling, to being a valued part of a medical team. I valued my colleagues, who are also friends, and enjoyed getting “adult conversation” regularly. My heart was excited about finally being able to fully focus on our family, but also sad at all I felt I was leaving behind.
Fast forward to today and I’m incredibly grateful for the change that was thrust upon us. In the past two years, I’ve come to know and love my husband so much more. We’re blessed that his job allows him to work from home and, therefore, we’ve all seen much more of each other over the past two years than we did for probably the first four years of our twin girls’ lives.
St. John Paul II said that, “Love is never something ready-made, something merely ‘given’ to man and woman; it is always at the same time a ‘task’ which they are set. Love should be seen as something which in a sense never ‘is’ but is always only ‘becoming’, and what it becomes depends upon the contribution of both persons and the depth of their commitment.”
Being at home together more allows me to see just how committed my husband is to our family. I can see on a daily basis how hard he works, not just for his employer and at his job, but how much effort he puts into being a good husband and father—the little tasks he does each day, and the small, passing moments of tenderness he lavishes on me and our children. On the two days a week when he does go into the office now, we all miss him dearly. All three kids jump up and down and dance at the door when he gets home.
I have now also been afforded an opportunity to show love to him more. If you’re familiar with the book, The Five Love Languages, then you’ll know that different people receive and give love in different ways. My husband’s love language is acts of service. I’ve found that being home full time now allows me more opportunities to speak his love language. When I worked outside the home, we divided more of the mundane, daily, household chores like dishes and laundry. Now that I’m home, I’ve taken on those responsibilities as a way to show him love.
He also has had more opportunities to speak my love language, which is words of affirmation. He tells me daily how much he appreciates all my work with our children and the sacrifices of sleep and alone time that I’ve made in order to take care of them. We’re also both able to spend more quality time with our children—something we all love.
Nothing about the past two years has been perfect (as nothing in life ever is), but I am so grateful that the changes caused by a global pandemic that made me into a full time, stay-at-home parent have enabled me to come home and love my family and to fall more deeply in love with them each day.
Julia Vadakkumpadan is a convert to the Catholic Faith and passionate about building the domestic church. She is married to an amazing man and they and their three children live in North Carolina. Julia writes on the side and in her free time at Purple Civet, her personal blog, but is currently taking a break from this venture to focus on homeschooling their children.