Rachel Campos-Duffy, mother of five children under the age of 10 and an active member of Ashland, Wisconsin’s Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Community, just wrote what she calls a “love letter” to stay-at-home-moms. The letter is actually a book, “Stay Home, Stay Happy: 10 Secrets to Loving At-Home Motherhood,” which was published at the end of August by the Penguin Group.
In her late-night writing and editing of the new book, Campos-Duffy took care to include “common sense and practical ideas that we all need to be reminded of,” she said in a recent interview.
“I wanted to edify women who have chosen to be at home with their families,” she said.
The world at large can often be oblivious to what transpires in a home, including the ongoing efforts of stay-at-home mothers, Campos-Duffy said.
“There’s just not a lot of validation,” she said. “But it’s never been a better time to be an at-home mom.”
For one thing, men as husbands and fathers are more open to partnership in the home than they were decades ago, she explained. Technological advances, like the Internet, make it easier for at-home parents to reach outside of their homes, beyond what once was often an isolated experience for women, she continued.
And most of all for Campos-Duffy is that “women can get a lot of pleasure out of being an at-home parent,” she said.
Along with having written “Stay Home, Stay Happy,” Campos-Duffy is a regular contributor to the Parentdish.com blog site, she makes guest appearances on television talk shows, and she got her start in the visual vein of media while participating in the MTV Real World series.
Later on, in 1999 and again in 2003, Campos-Duffy made on-air attempts to join the hosting line-up of the daytime talk show, The View, but each time she was not chosen for the position. Rather than be deterred by what some might call failure, Campos-Duffy found inspiration.
“I thought it was a sign from God that I was already doing what I was supposed to be doing,” she said. She looked to her developing children as evidence of her valuable work as a mother.
“They have an understanding of God,” she said. “What I am doing is producing good fruit.”
Campos-Duffy sees her husband, 2010 U.S. Congressional Candidate Sean Duffy, as a source of support, and she says his appreciation of her work trickles down to their children, which helps her even more in her role as a parent. But being a Catholic parent is not always easy in our secular culture, she explained.
“We have to do it. There is so much wisdom and beauty in our Catholic faith,” she said.
“But you also do have to be constantly recommitting yourself.”
With those recommitments come joys, as children who learn the Catholic faith in their homes often give parents opportunities to “experience their faith again for the first time,” she said.
The home environment itself is very important in these interactions as a Catholic family, Campos-Duffy describes in the eighth chapter of “Stay Home, Stay Happy.”
“In Catholic theology the home is actually called ‘the domestic church,’” she writes. “The lessons in love taught in the home have a greater impact on the world than the things that happen in places of commerce or government. Character, honesty...these virtues are first and best learned in the family home, where members learn to love, share, and care for one another.”
Campos-Duffy’s book is not altogether focused on Catholicism in the home, though a strong element of her faith weaves its way through, clearly reflecting her priorities as a parent. She is quick to point out, however, that the techniques and ideas she shares may not fit everyone’s needs.
“But the book contains common sense, practical ideas that we all need to be reminded of,” she said.
Take for instance chapter 10, in which Campos-Duffy writes that “Being an at-home parent does not make you a better parent. What it does afford you is more opportunities to become the best parent you can be.”
With that striving can come a simultaneous need for a reality check, as at-home parents have opportunities to fall short of their own expectations because they have more opportunities to interact with their children, she explains. “But that also means that there are more occasions to reconcile and plenty of time to learn about and from one another in the process,” she writes.
Ultimately, Campos-Duffy hopes that her book will motivate and remind at-home moms to recognize and indulge in the pleasurable and satisfying aspects of their work.
“There is a way to do it and be joyful,” she said.
Printed with permission from the Catholic Herald, newspaper for the Diocese of Superior, Wisconsin.