Ambition, Intellect, Sacrifice, and Motherhood

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In the wake of Mother’s Day, I cannot help but reflect on the path I have taken… I am musing here, so it might ramble a bit…

I’m an educated woman, and by all accounts I could’ve gone to law school or graduate school or pursued a career straight out of college. In fact, I intended to do something when I entered college, though I still wasn’t entirely sure what that was.

A large part of the reason why I chose to attend a liberal arts university was that I wanted an education. I didn’t necessarily know what career might lay beyond that education, but that wasn’t the primary point.

Whenever I considered a career as my college years progressed, I constantly found myself adding the asterisk *can I do this while being a mom?

Meeting my future husband early on added to this line of questioning. I never really doubted if he were the right man to take as a husband–that was clear to me almost from the moment I met him. I dearly hoped that children were in my future, and after watching multiple women, including my own mother, bear, birth, and care for babies into their forties, I had no desire to do so myself.

Moreover, I didn’t want to have a miscarriage, and I knew the odds of having one increased the older I was (best laid plans, I’m afraid to say…).

I struggled mightily with my ambitions, especially during junior and senior year. How was I to balance the intellect God gave me with my desire to raise a family? Making the most of my God-given talents and answering the God-given call to be a mother seemed at odds, and I didn’t know what to make of that. How does a woman make the most of her intellect and gifts while taking the path of motherhood?

[one of my favorite professors wrote an article on this topic]

Despite what society at large may say about being a stay-at-home mom, there are ways to use your intellect while being a mother.

  1. You don’t have to make money in order to use your intellect.
    Society views education as a means to a career, so it is hardly surprising that society doesn’t view self-betterment and self-education as a worthy end. Every few months, I read something in Greek. I need to do it more often, but, right now, I’m happy to just be able to do that. Every so often, I pick up an old philosophy book and read it. I’m not a professor. I’m not writing an article. I’m just reading and thinking and reflecting. I make no money, and I earn no glory. However, I am using my mind and taking advantage of the intellect God gave me.
  2. Homeschooling provides an outlet for my desire to share knowledge.
    There are days that I hate homeschooling, but, on the whole, it gives me a chance to share my knowledge with my children. It challenges my ability to see things from multiple angles, and especially since my children are young, I must find ways to explain things in the simplest form available, which is a skill in itself.
  3. Not having a career outside of the home gives me the chance to take full advantage of my other gifts.
    I’m good at building things. I’m good at gardening. I’m learning more and more how to make beautiful things with my hands. Moreover, these activities engage my mind and give me peace. I like the achievement of crocheting a beautiful blanket. I like the challenge of figuring out a pattern in needlepoint. I relish the feeling of moist earth in my hands as I show my children how food is grown out of the ground. I have many, for lack of a better word, hobbies that I engage in every day. If I had a career, my time in these areas would be greatly limited. There are, after all, only so many hours in a day.
  4. I write, not because I will probably make any money, but because that’s what I do.
    I have yet to find a literary agent or anyone interested in publishing the novels I work on. I suppose at some point I’ll need to give self-publishing a try. Publishing aside, the writing keeps my mind engaged. Plus, ever since I can remember, my mind has created stories. When I was very young, I played with my toys. As I got older, I began to write. My stories are a refuge when I’m bored or on a plane and need something to keep my mind occupied. When I’m able to type them out, it gives me a sense of peace that makes the rest of my day better.
    My education made my writing better, of that there is no doubt. I wouldn’t be the writing I am today without the guidance of several professors and the knowledge gained through reading thousands of pages of novels, philosophy, and political theory.

There are days, weeks, and months when I am bitter and feel like I’ve failed or missed out on an opportunity. There are times when I let it get to me that people don’t respect what I do–even some people I love don’t respect what I do, and that’s hard to stomach.

That being said, I do see the value in the life I’ve chosen. My daughter is a year ahead in math. My oldest son has the freedom to navigate his social anxiety and quirkiness at his own pace without being tormented by his peers. My younger son gets to run around barefoot with his siblings and not be confined to day care while Mommy pursues a career.

There are very good things about what I’ve chosen to do.

There’s also the sacrifice.

I can’t deny it–I sacrificed my ambitions to be a homeschooling mom. I sacrificed my money-making abilities to be a homeschooling mom. I sacrifice my intellect daily as I lead my children through phonics and basic math. I sacrifice my time as I scrub floors, wash dishes, and fold laundry.

Being a mother is sacrificial, whether you work outside of the home or not. Our society doesn’t value sacrifice. Or, at least, fails to recognize it.

Sacrifice is worthy. It is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is it a cudgel to be wielded at your children or spouse when you’re angry.

I’m still trying to come to terms with that, but when I do, my life is infinitely more rewarding.

~ Lee

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One thought on “Ambition, Intellect, Sacrifice, and Motherhood

Add yours

  1. You are right where you belong and there will be ample opportunity to do things as your children grows to an adult but also afterwards. Read about Erma Bombeck.

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