The other day I was reflecting on a common frustration among stay-at-home moms—the seemingly “wasted” years of higher education that apparently get tossed aside when children enter the picture. Admittedly, I had moments leading up to the birth of my son when I felt that way. “I kicked my butt in undergrad and graduate school, just so I could change diapers all day?” Then, my son was born, and my view slowly but profoundly changed.
Essentially, I came to realize that my life, like a book, has chapters carefully constructed and laid out by God, who has a time and place for everything. He ordered the chapters in my novel, and just like it would be absurd for chapters in a carefully plotted book to be out of order (imagine Frodo journeying to Mordor before he acquires the ring…what? or Elizabeth falling in love with Mr. Darcy the moment she meets him…boring!), it would be equally disappointing if I desired and tried to live my life out of order from God’s intended story for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I have always wanted to be a mom. But before I became one (and still occasionally now that I am one), the thought of giving up some of my career aspirations seemed daunting. That is, until I realized that I wasn’t giving up any career aspirations at all. I was entering a new chapter with a new and incredibly challenging career: professional motherhood. I think it’s a mistake when many of us fail to see motherhood as it really is—a professional career.
To be a true professional at any career, you must have focus and passion. Right now, as a stay-at-home mother, I’m called to be laser-focused on how to mother well—extremely well if I can help it—which is hard, professional work. I’m also called to do that work with tangible passion. After years of focus and passion, I will hopefully be rewarded with children who have the virtues, attitudes, and capabilities that reflect the professional mothering they experienced in their childhood and adolescence.
Then, maybe God will call me to a new chapter, perhaps a chapter that involves that workaday world that I once belonged to and went to school for. Until that time, however, it is my vocation to embrace this chapter, offering every bit of talent, creativity, and knowledge that I have gained through the valuable education and life experience He intentionally equipped me with in previous ones.
Fellow stay-at-home mothers: your years of schooling are not wasted; your professional life has not been put on hold. You are using them right now, engaging in the hardest and most important professional work there is. Do not spend these years wondering what else or what more you could be doing, what other chapters you could be writing. Never take a moment of this chapter for granted. It will end all too quickly!
“That is how mothers are made. Nature had to prepare for them through millions of years by begetting a love that would freely desire children, a love that would educate them, and a love that would sacrifice for them because of their sovereign worth as persons endowed with immortal souls…that kind of love is a gift from God.” –Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen