I still remember the shocked looks on family members' faces when I told them I was getting married at 20 years old. I hadn't been to college. When I was 17, my dad died of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. Our family and home was turned upside down. I was the oldest of five, and I took it upon myself to help my mom through the valley that she now walked. I also mothered my younger siblings, so when I graduated, I decided to "take a couple years of school off" and just remain at home. I focused on my musical training through private lessons and recitals, and also started teaching piano at my local church. I immersed myself in helping with music class at the school in the church, and it was there that I started to get to know my future husband. I got to know him so well, that we fell in love. And school and college and the rest was history.
My family tsk tsked me when I told them that I was marrying at 20, and one family member even asked if I was getting married so I could have a "sugar daddy". I was incredulous back then that he would ask me that, and now, looking back, I just laugh. Sugar daddy. Hilarious.
As I am approaching almost 19 years of marriage, and almost 18 of being a mom, I often reflect back on decisions that I made as a young woman. I think we all do that; some with regret, some with relief, and some with sadness, or, happiness. I look back with relief and happiness. I am so glad that I chose the path I did. I have a son on the cusp of manhood, and I pray each and every day that he will choose the right paths, so that he can look back at almost 40, and be glad over the path that he chose.
Since I now have a few years of experience under my belt, though, I thought I would weigh in on this subject. This thing of rejecting formal schooling and a career for that of being a wife and a mother.
And if I could say a few things to those family members who tsk tsked, I would tell them this.
Deciding to be a wife and a mother is not settling.
It's not settling to decide that your children and husband are worth your time, effort, legacy, and ambition.
It's not settling to decide that YOU will be the one to raise your children, not the daycare down the street, and not other family members.
It's not settling to homeschool, and to learn right alongside your children. How many career women are learning about China, and Russia, and Japan? Most of us don't use what we learned in high school, and even college, once we are graduated. With homeschooling, though, life is a classroom. I am constantly remembering how to do fractions, and pre-algebra, and diagramming, and science facts, because I am helping my kids in school all the time with those things.
It's not settling to trade teaching traditional private piano lessons at an Arts Academy for online lessons that you can do from your home, while your children are doing their schoolwork in the same room as you. In fact, that in and of itself is a whole new learning process! When I started my piano academy, I felt like I had been to business school for a month- when I hadn't, I just had a gifted friend who explained everything, and encouraged and helped me along the way! I learned all about building websites, and which scheduling sites are the best, invoicing, establishing clientele, marketing yourself, how to use social media to raise awareness of your new business, and on and on. Sometimes hands on teaching is the best kind there is!
It's not settling to learn how to budget, and grocery shop with limited income, and cook good, healthy meals from scratch, and pay bills. All life lessons that many people don't have!
It's not settling to teach the next generation life skills and values that they need to have. Life skills that sadly, are very lacking in today's day and age. Values that are becoming non existent. The public schools certainly aren't teaching them. In fact, they are forcing twisted views into the minds and hearts of our children. Who will teach the next generation, if us mothers won't?
It's not settling to decide to labor alongside your preacher husband as he plants a church with only his family in a new town. To toil and sweat, cry and rejoice, have victories, failures, and learning experiences along the way. I have learned more about people from starting a church than any psychology textbook could teach me!
It's not settling to be your husband's wife and your kids' mom. To encourage your husband when he is down, and to have late night talks with teens that are quickly becoming adults. To nurse your baby until they are walking, and to talk and laugh with your littles.
It's not settling to give up your body, your sleep, your sanity at times, your organization, your clean house, your time, and your life for those that God has entrusted you with.
We all choose what legacy we will leave behind. We all decide who we want to impact.
For me, my choice was that I wanted to be the best wife and mother that I could be. So I have lived my life in a way where those things took priority, and they were, and are, first and foremost in the decisions that I make.
Did I "give up a career" to do that? Yes. But was it settling? No. It was a choice that I made, and one that I have been resolute in from the start.
Have I had doubts? Not really. This is what I want, it's what I desire, and I believe that God has given me the desires of my heart. Is it hard? Oh, yeah. You better believe it's hard! Some days I want to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. But, I don't. I go to Starbucks instead. And, side note, here is another thing that irritates me.
Being a stay at home, homeschooling, home business owner, pastor's wife of lots of kids is HARD WORK. And sometimes I might slip up and complain a little, especially if I have had a bad day. The last thing I need to hear is, "Well, you were the one who chose to have so many kids!" Or, "And you want MORE?!" (accompanied by a snide glance) Would you say that to a nurse who had a bad day? Or a school teacher? No. You would pour on the sympathy, because it's accepted for a career woman to complain about a hard day, but not a mom, for some reason. That needs to change. In fact, that's another article for another day. But I digress.
The day I said, "I do," and I chose to be with my husband for better or for worse, I meant what I said. I was going to live the rest of my life trying to be the best wife I could be. When I saw those two lines on a pregnancy test, and when they placed my firstborn on my chest for the first time, I knew what my job from then on out was going to be. I chose to pour my life into making the best life that I could for my husband and children, and I will until I die.
That's not settling.
That's making a choice, and choosing a path, and I am so glad I decided to choose it.