30 October 2009

Motherhood as Vocation

A week and a half ago, I came across an article titled "Motherhood as Vocation." The article discusses the difficulty in being a stay-at-home mom in a work-dominated culture, especially for women who are educated and have found meaningful work outside of the home before becoming mothers. A group of women in the Washington D.C. area gathered to explore and discuss their shared vocation. The article affirms that the work of a stay-at-home mom is of utmost importance, just as important as being a doctor or a lawyer or a novelist. It is work that is shaped by the mother's experiences and education, and is by no means inferior to other types of work. The idea that stay-at-home moms aren't doing "real work" is a crock.

What really got me was a quote at the end of the article from G.K. Chesterton:
"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the rule of three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone?"
Get I get an amen?

I read that and immediately thought of my students. How can I be the professor of 50 or so students, a task that's demanding much of my attention and eating away my sanity, when my primary obligation is to my daughter and my husband? How can I offer myself so completely to an endeavor that's proving to be wholly unfruitful? The long and the short of it is, I can't. And as much as I want to teach and ultimately enjoy it, now is not the right time.

The big question I've had through this is about the importance of my education. If I'm just going to be a stay-at-home mom, what was the point of going to college and grad school? If I'm honest, that was my biggest deterrent to giving up teaching, even at the expense of my wavering mental health. What I'm learning is that my time in college and graduate school has shaped who I am, and what I've learned and done in my life is going to shape who I am as a mother. And who I am is not validated by what I do for "real work."

Thanks be to God.


MGBR said...

Yes, yes, yes--your relationships, your education and your collective experiences have formed your character, and you are forming your daughter's. This is of primary and ultimate importance.

Bethany said...

that brought me to tears. thank you for making me feel like i have made the right choice. :)

Sophia said...

Scott and I have talked about this many times with different people. Whether it is about being a SAHM or a man/woman taking on an unrelated career after getting a degree, a college education IS NEVER A WASTE!!!
The knowledge you gain (both by coursework and life-experience) are most certainly beneficial in things you will do in life.


All wonderful attributes to instill in your little one.

Congratulations on choosing the toughest, most rewarding job out there!

Lindsay said...

Thank you all for your kind words. :)

kate o. said...

that was a good article! i really appreciated the artist's take on the time she takes to paint and take additional classes. i like how she didn't appreciate comments that came from the approach of "time away from the kids" or "time by yourself" but rather sees that time as fulfilling another role God created her for. loved that.