It was freshman year of college and I sat in the first day of class Monday morning. The professor’s ice breaker question was “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Answers flurried around the groups. Hopeful future lawyers and entrepreneurs swapped opinions on grad schools. Social work majors discussed non-profits and the Peace Corp. When the small circle turned to me, I answered, “Well, I’ve always wanted to get married and have kids. If it works out, I’d like to stay home with them and homeschool them.”
Stares. Silence. Smirks. This wasn’t a popular answer on a University campus.
In comparison to the dreams of my fellow undergrads, my dream sounded…crazy. Mundane. Some even called it a waste. Why would I choose littles when I could choose learning and writing and staying up into the wee hours of the night discussing intellectual topics over lattes and craft beer? Wasn’t I just wasting my time even in my undergrad if I was just going to throw it all away?
I decided to prove them all wrong. I came up with my life motto and ran with it for the next three years: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deepest passion and the world’s greatest hunger intersect” (Frederick Buechner). Ironically, the place that I saw that hunger was the university campus itself, especially in the way that Catholicism was taught in history classes.
I began to entertain dreams of pencil skirts and practical heeled shoes, lecture podiums and power point clickers. I was enamored with what “Professor Mooradian” sounded like, and how proudly I’d display the diploma that I could almost taste. I dreamed of late nights spent grading essays (which I’m sure is completely over-romanticized and not nearly as exciting as I picture in my mind) and coffee with students to discuss the beauty of Catholic history.
But I was torn, because deep inside me I still ached for that original dream. That freshman-year-Chloe answer that I loved so much, despite what people said. That raw version of me, before I had soaked up the influence of a University environment – before I listened to what so many people said about me wasting my potential on a family. So I toyed with the notion that maybe I could do both. Do it all. Pick options ‘a’ AND ‘b.’
Over winter break, senior year loomed ahead of me. Adulthood and decisions beckoned to me. I was asked to put together my top list of graduate schools where I would venture into the depths of a doctoral degree in history. I mulled over the list, chatted with students and professors, and dug through course catalogs. I watched countless video interviews of professors, read random samplings of essays and contemplated life over multiple vanilla lattes. And after all of that I felt empty. I wasn’t just wrestling with a doctorate adviser, I was battling with whether a doctorate graduate degree was actually my dream, and if so, what ramifications that had for the rest of my life. Early in January, one night during a family vacation, Joseph and I had a long heart to heart where the reality that decision time was right around the corner hit me.
Don’t get me wrong – women who have doctorate degrees are amazing. My favorite professors during my undergraduate degree time have been women who know their subject inside and out and have been an incredible source of knowledge. But I didn’t know if that was for me. Because, deep down inside of me was a dream that I had…I wanted to stay at home with littles and teach them. I wanted to see their first steps and tell them about the saints and what the Eucharist meant. I wanted to cook breakfasts and sew pillowcase dresses. I wanted to spend the summers with grass underneath my feet and smelling like kid’s suntan lotion.
Because, deep down, the issue was much larger than a job decision. It was a heart decision. It was a soul-searching, gnawing realization that dragged me to adoration. A question that tugged at me and left countless journal pages scrawled with my thoughts, prayers, hopes and cries to God for clarity.
I realized that the idea of being a stay-at-home mom scared me. Because it made me realized this adventure would take a selfless heart that I didn’t know if I had.
It would mean balancing and organizing. Schedules and spontaneity. Littles with their muddy messes crashing into my muddy heart that wanted only what was good for me. What made me comfortable. What made me happy. Which, as it turns out, isn’t the healthiest for the soul. Or sainthood.
So for now, we’re planning a wedding for early next year. And when littles come, they come and bring with them decisions and bridges to cross when we get there. There is a lot of unknowns right now…and learning to trust God and His plan for us that is better than anything we could have ever imagined.
I’ll still read through stacks of books. And talk about Catholicism and history until everyone wishes I would just be quiet and enjoy the silence. I’ll still drink the same inhumane amount of coffee that I would have had a doctorate been in my future (maybe more, you never know).
Do I know what the future holds? I sure don’t. But I know what I choose is…God’s will. Simplistic and childlike faith that does not come naturally to me. But I do know that, doctorate or not, I’m called for a life that has peace on the inside, and doesn’t always look like the the world’s version of success on the outside. And that’s better than okay. For real.
“Be truly glad…there is wonderful joy ahead.” 1 Peter 1:-6