“What a waste! She wasted 4 years in college and a ton of money only to become a stay at home mom.”
Have you ever heard someone say that about you? It’s like a dagger in the heart of a mom who left everything she built in her career to do what she knows is right for herself and her family.
Even if finances allow you to stay home and comfortably live on one income, choosing to stay home to raise your kids and leave your professional career is not an easy decision. After many years spent in college learning and then building a career afterwards, those who decide to be home with their kids do it with great conviction. We stay home because we want to. We stay home because we feel that being there to see our children’s first steps, first smile, and first giggle is worth leaving our career for.
Those that hold this conviction know deep down that raising their children at home will not give them any kind of advantage if they decide to enter the workplace later in life. Yet, we still choose to do it because to us it’s much more of an investment to be with our kids than not to be.
Any choice comes with consequences. Just as a mom in the workplace battles with the guilt of not being available 24/7 for her kids, a stay at home mom who left a successful career also deals with a kind of guilt that can really keep her from thriving at home. Here are 4 truths that you need to embrace if you want to go from a stay at home mom who is just surviving and feeling condemned for her choice, to a stay a home mom who is thriving:
First, realize that you are not wasting your education being at home with your kids. The person that makes comments like the one stated at the beginning of this article is doing so out of ignorance. A college education teaches you skills that go behind your chosen field of study.
As a student who spent 5 years studying architecture, I learned how to…
(1) Manage my workload so that I was able to reach deadlines with success,
(2) Become the ultimate problem solver as I had to think out of the box and creatively to design solutions to problems,
(3) Create a presentation that looks professional so that I could effectively market myself and my designs,
(4) Present myself with confidence and get over my fears of public speaking and criticism.
Moms have to be problems solvers, think creatively, teach their children confidence, and must manage their time well if they want to live a life of peace and not chaos. These skills are never a waste.
Second, realize that you also have to opportunity to use these skills to create a business at home. This is an awesome opportunity to work on your own terms and create something for yourself while still using your professional skills! Your degree is just a starting point. It’s not the end of your journey.
Believe it or not, you have the ability to take your skills and create a business that either is similar to what you use to do in the corporate world, or you can use those skills and put them towards something completely different. I never thought I’d go from working as a residential home designer to now working from home as a health and fitness coach and business mentor to other women who want to build a business from home just like I have. I’m absolutely blown away.
It only happened because I was able to see beyond what my degree told me I could do. I had enough confidence to take the professional and life skills I learned and apply them to something else even if I failed on the first, second, and third try. Remember, if you fail enough times you’ll eventually find something that works!
Now I have a business from home that gives me a flexible schedule to be there for my kids and also gives me something to do that is just for myself and isn’t centered around my children. Not everyone may desire this, but it’s something that I’m really passionate about and that brings me joy.
Third, turn off those voices in your head and tune out the voices around you giving you grief for leaving your career to be with your kids. Your decision is the right decision for you. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for it, even if it’s a well-meaning family member or friend.
Whenever you doubt your decision, remind yourself of the reasons why you decided to stay home to be with your kids. The pros outweigh the cons. I doubt you’ll look back 20 years from now and say that you wish you were working with tight deadlines, rushing to get your kids from daycare after a long day behind a desk, and loved asking for time off when you need to take your kids to the doctor. Enjoy the blessing of being at home. Realize it is a blessing!
I know that you and I can be our worst enemies. You may have no one telling you that you made the wrong decision or criticizing you for staying at home with your kids. It may be you giving yourself grief because you’re worried about what others think of you or you’re just comparing yourself to your other mom friends who “look” like they have it all.
Again, weigh the pros and cons. No one has it all. Comparison will steal your joy. Moms who work don’t want to. Moms who stay home want to work. The grass ALWAYS looks greener on the other side (especially when you’re covered in spilled milk and smell like a dirty diaper). Keep yourself sane by remembering to be content in your current circumstance and by filling your mind with things that are true, honorable, and right. (Philippians 4:8-13)
Lastly, realize that your identity is not defined by what your college degree says about you. It’s defined by who God created you to be. No matter what you do, how you feel, or what others say about you, you are precious to God. (Psalm 139: 17) When He created man He said that his creation was “good”. (Genesis 1:31) There is nothing you can do to change God’s opinion of you. At the end of the day, it’s His opinion that matters the most.
God does not see you as architect, accountant, lawyer, doctor, psychologist, marketing executive, etc… He sees you as his good creation. Your profession is a role you play in life. Roles change as life seasons change. However, your identity will never change if you take hold of the fact that your identity is rooted in being a child of God. God never changes, therefore your identity doesn’t change either. (Hebrews 13:8, 1 John 5:1)
When you find yourself overwhelmed and feeling lost in this thing called “motherhood,” remind yourself of these truths. Your identity and value does not come from what a university says or what your employer thought of you. It does not come from your husband or your children. It does not come from all of the volunteer positions and good things you do in your community. Instead, it comes from the creator Himself. Have peace knowing that. Rest in this.
Your degree does not define who you are.