Ink Slingers Lisa Canning Mom So Hard Series

What if it Didn’t Have to be so Hard?

Welcome to this installment in the series MOM SO HARD – FINESSING THE INTRICACIES OF YOUR MODERN CATHOLIC FAMILY, a series focused on taking a look at the Faith through the lens of being a Catholic mom. This series is going to–using a spiritual foundation as our starting point–walk with you and share candid and practical elements that make up our days. We will look at primary spiritual elements, recognizing that without God, nothing is possible. How do we start our day? How do we end our day? If God does not bookend our days (at a minimum), we can start to see how feeling overwhelmed or worse can creep into our day. Even the most mundane of chores and activities can be done to glorify God. So, grab some coffee, a notebook, and a pen, and let’s get started, shall we?

For the first five years of my motherhood journey, I felt like I did not belong. 

We were married young, with no savings, and I had just launched my interior design business when we had our first child. We had no available income for childcare, but more importantly I wanted my baby near me. I wanted to be his primary caregiver. I wanted to embrace the vocation of motherhood full on.

But at the same time, I also had a passion for my work. Just two years before having our son John, I hosted a show on HGTV that launched my interior design and television career. I saw before me enticing opportunities I could have never imagined for my life. And while no one said it this harshly, it was definitely implied that it would be more convenient for everyone else if I waited to start a family.

So I found myself, at the age of 25, with one foot firmly in the stay-at-home mom camp, and one foot firmly in the working mom camp. I had some friends telling me my place was at home, and at home is where I should stay. And then I had some friends saying I could have it all, and what was the harm in working. And I felt so much tension, feeling like I didn’t fully belong to either camp. 

So as a result, I worked hard to prove to both groups that I could do it. I wanted to show the stay-at-home moms that I was still a present wife, mom, and homemaker! Look how cute my son looks on my hip while I shop for fabric samples- he’s like my assistant! And to the working moms, I wanted to prove that I could still be successful, that I was crushing it at work, that I could juggle kids and work without missing a beat.

I was able to keep up the juggling charade for a few years, but it got more and more intense. As my career grew, so did my family size. By the time I was 30, I had 4 children ages 5 and under.

And I was exhausted.

It all came to a massive implosion on a snowy November day. A light dusting of snow had fallen in my hometown of Toronto, making everything look so peaceful and pristine outside. And it was in such stark contrast to how messy the inside of my minivan was. My passenger seat was full of interior design samples, the floor of my car was littered with goldfish crackers, empty water bottles, forgotten sippy cups. I had an overflowing bag of diapers, wipes and onesies, and way in the back I had my less than a week-old newborn daughter Rose, and I was bringing her into a messy construction site because I had put so much pressure on myself to show up for work. 

And it hit me that day as I stared at the mess and chaos around me, and realized that my priorities were as messy as my minivan.

That was the day I said no more. That was the day I said there had to be another way. That was the day I finally wholeheartedly invited God into my plans, and let Him show me how to use my gifts in appropriate ways, at the appropriate times. That was the day I became obsessed with figuring out a way that I could be a great wife and mom, but also pursue my dreams at the same time. 

I had become so reliant on what my achievements said about my identity and self worth, that I was blind to what this pursuit of success was doing to the people who mattered most to me, the souls I had been entrusted with to nurture, support, and bring closer to God.

It is so difficult to hear God when you are so consumed by achievement. He had been speaking to me throughout the chaos but I was reluctant to listen.

But slowly, things started to change. I changed my business drastically. I made sure my family knew they were a priority by ensuring I made space for them in my calendar. I showed up for my prayer life like I would show up for a client. I showed up for my marriage like I would show up for a live tv spot. It was a long and winding road of unlearning past habits and developing new ones, and trusting God even when it felt hard. But now ten years into my motherhood career, and seven gorgeous kids later, I am happy to report there truly is another way. What God revealed to me in the mess of my minivan and so many other messy motherhood moments, is that His plan is always so much better than my own.

Here is what I know to be true: God did not give us dreams so we could feel guilty for having them. This was the lie I believed for many years- that I was somehow wired wrong as a Catholic mom for having a desire to use my gifts outside of the home. What God revealed to me in my years post my “minivan meltdown”, was that with strategic time management, delegation and a clear sense of your priorities, you can be a great mom and pursue the dreams He has for you for you at the same.

But at the same time, this pursuit requires surrender and sacrifice. During certain seasons, it might be possible for a mom to dedicate time to a dream for several hours a day. During other seasons, dream chasing might only occur in short 15-minute sprints in between diaper changes. What’s also important to remember is that raising kids is one of the most important achievements of all. And while sometimes, it might not feel like you are “doing anything”, or no one sees the work you are doing, our Father in Heaven sees it, and the people who need it most, see it. God’s timing is perfect- and although we may have strong desires, His timing is the very best timing, and we need to have the docility to listen to His voice and go where He needs us. 

Lisa Canning is a parenting, lifestyle and interior design expert in Toronto, Canada where she lives with her husband Josh and her seven children. You can pre-order her first book, The Possibility Mom: How to be a Great Mom and Pursue Your Dreams at the Same Time right now!


Let’s dig deeper. Did this post resonate with you? If so, please continue on below and consider starting a journal to jot down your answers. PRINT several copies of these questions to start your own journal based on different posts. 

  1. What was my spiritual life like before getting married?
  2. What was my spiritual life like before children?
  3. What is my spiritual life like now?
  4. How would I like my spiritual life to be?


CATHOLIC PLANNER – DAYBOOK – “It’s the best first step you’ll take towards organizing a better tomorrow.” Martina Kreitzer, foundress of Catholic Sistas

BOOK – The Possibility Mom: How to be a Great Mom and Pursue Your Dreams at the Same Time right now! by Lisa Canning



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Mom So Hard: Finessing the Intricacies of Your Modern Catholic Family

Welcome, friends. I am SO thrilled to have you join us for this new series. Through Mom So Hard: Finessing the Intricacies of Your Modern Catholic Family, we will be taking a detailed look at the everyday practicals of the domestic Church – YOUR domestic Church – and help you incorporate time for Jesus, tips, strategies, and even wine and chocolate time – YAS – into your everyday. While the pieces will be largely written from the point-of-view of your average stay-at-home-mom (me!), I will do my best to give advice and tips that Catholic women of all walks of life – working, single, married, moms of large families, moms of small families, etc. – can glean something from the practicals shared.

Um, why you, Martina?

So, who am I and why do I want to write about this kind of stuff? Well, I am Martina and I am the creator of Catholic Sistas, a blog that is centered upon sharing the Faith. You might be wondering why a series like this fits inside the mission of the blog. The short answer is, if you’re at all like me, and not naturally organized or struggle to find some kind of organization and balance in your life, you will appreciate ALL of the mistakes I’ve made over the years. Not that I don’t make mistakes anymore – HA! – but in certain areas of my life, I really let things slide that I should have tackled and made a priority before drowning in children. 😉

Another reason for the series is a small detail that has helped keep this apostolate afloat for the past 7.5 years. As the foundress, and as a team, part of the mission of the blog has been that whatever work we do for the blog does not compromise our primary vocation as wife, and for many of us, as mothers. We respect that life happens and writers need to step back and take care of the home front – and that spiritual work ethic has lent itself toward, I believe, writing that really strikes at the core of who we are as women and mothers. It’s hard to do the things you love well when your house is “on fire”, so to speak.

At the heart of the matter

A friend and I were chatting on Facebook a few months ago and we got to talking about garage space. I was SO excited to share my newest ideas that I did a quick video and uploaded it to our chat. She was like you HAVE to write more about how you do things. Moms like me need that, she said. Moms like her being that she is a young momma in her early 30s and apparently my old, battle-scarred self might just have something of use to offer other mommas like her – and maybe you, too? 🙂

So, what makes me even qualified to speak on the matter beyond being old and learning from mistakes? I don’t really know, but maybe because I resisted the idea of being organized for many many years, insisting that I could just hobble on by with my rag tag ideas. The truth is, my methods (which were, duh, disorganized) caused a greater stress than actually coming up with a system and sticking with it. But…it’s amazing what desperation, necessity, and a little ingenuity can lead to…and now I look at my children and see the fruits of being able to gradually implement some systems that work in our large family. I’ve come to realize that my greatest stress was a result of persisting in disorganization. And maybe that’s you, too.

It starts with a witness

In my first post, I will share my story – what prompted my way of thinking in 2002, and how I manage our family of nine these days.

You might just be thinking to yourself, yeah that’s nice, but right now while I’m trying to read this for like the fifth time, my toddler is busying himself dumping flour out all over the place and my other kids are crawling the countertops and smearing peanut butter all over each other. HOW is something like this series supposed to stop the madness in my house?

Look, I get it. I really do. We’re going to cover feasible solutions that you can apply to your life and it will be a gradual process for some of you and others, it will be like a light switch. The series will be geared toward shifting a mindset towards a greater sense of peace in your home which, in turn, will lead to reducing stressors and more time to really glorify God in those mundane chores that everyone seems to have, whether you work outside the home or not.

So, I’m going to turn things over to my lovely co-conspirator in this series, Lisa Canning of Blueprints for a Beautiful Life who specializes in time management strategies for the busy momma. And aren’t we all busy? She  and I will be taking turns tackling various topics that will take your home from cray to ahhhh, from chaotic to peaceful, from scattered to intentionally prayerful.


I’m Lisa and for the last eleven years I have balanced running my interior design business and raising small children – we have now been blessed with seven kids!

Before I became a mom, I had many preconceived notions of what being open to a large family was going to be like, and what life with lots of kids was going to be like. I thought raising a family meant that I was giving up on my personal goals and dreams, or any form of a career, and that there was just no way the pursuit of both was possible.

And what God has shown me, is that when we trust Him, and we trust that He has the BEST plans for our life, that pretty incredible things can happen. We just have to be open to what He has to say, and walk forward in faith even when it seems impossible.

I bring to this series my experience of working both outside and inside of the home, the juggle and struggle that comes with pursuing career excellence and home excellence, and how I finally figured out that time management isn’t really dictated by a clock, but by a correct ordering of your true priorities.