If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Am I too smart to be a stay at home mom?” then read this. But before you do, just learn to take a compliment.
The biggest way people arrive at my blog is through Google searches. People who want to know how to get a urine sample from an 18-month-old find this post and are sorely disappointed. Mothers with jetlagged babies find this post. And occasionally, you get a real gem search term. Like this one from last week…
“Am I too smart to be a stay-at-home-mom?”
Reading this stopped me in my tracks. At first I was shocked, and then indignant. Who would think staying at home is only for the less intelligent? Soon I realized this question is similar to many other questions. Most of which I have asked myself.
“Is staying home a waste of my education?”
“Will I be able to stand being cooped up in the house?”
“How will I handle the lack of stimulating conversation?”
“Will my career be completely derailed by my choice?”
“Am I going to resent my kids for this?”
“Will I miss my calling or purpose in life?”
I became interested. Interested if this anonymous Google Searcher was pregnant with her first child or perhaps considering quitting her job to start this journey. I wondered how many times she’d been told she was too smart to stay home. Was her husband supportive? Did people think she was crazy? Does she have a high powered career? Was she at the top of her graduating class?
The privilege of motherhood is not limited to certain socioeconomic statuses, locations or levels of intelligence. It isn’t only for those with child-bearing hips or those who like to cook, clean and sew. And if motherhood isn’t limited to certain types of women, why should the choice to stay at home or not be?
Though I love staying at home, I’m not against working. In fact, this post isn’t against anything. So, to the mom who wonders if she’s too smart to stay at home, here is some food for thought.
1. Let your intelligence make you a better mom
One of the privileges and aims of parenting is to raise bright children who can make a difference. There are opportunities all day long to bring your brain, your education and your knowledge to bear on the task of raising your little ones. It won’t be so difficult for you to see what works and what doesn’t. You’ll find smart strategies to keep the household running and the kids fed and bathed.
As a smart mother you’ll be able to read to your children, teach them interesting things, and let them explore their own passions and giftings. You’ll see the life lessons in the day to day. You’ll be able to draw parallels for them they’ll remember long after the initial situation. In fact, I think being at home will stretch and grow you in unexpected ways.
2. Children aren’t in the way, they are the way
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, being a mother is one of the most character building things you will ever do. You learn to put others first, to sacrifice and serve, and you gain stamina and endurance. While the skills you’ll be using at home may not have a direct read across to your career, your character will be challenged and stretched in a way that will only bolster your intelligence.
At home you may not learn how to close the deal, negotiate, craft a killer presentation, or create a mammoth spreadsheet. But you will learn how to manage people and their emotions. You’ll learn how to balance short-term goals with long-term goals, and you’ll quickly figure out when you must stick to your guns at all costs.
3. Some things will wait. Others won’t
I know many Christians don’t say this and they think it’s discouraging. But, if I’m honest with myself, I think this is true: there are some things you just can’t get back. Some opportunities will never present themselves again. Time stops for no man or woman. In a few years your children will start school and there won’t be a need to quit work and stay home. This is a decision you’ll likely only have to make once so I encourage you to count the cost.
In Luke the Bible talks about counting the costs before we act (in that case, building something). You know your own family’s needs and vision and you’ll be able to decide what’s best for ya’ll. Every family is different. But don’t forget that some decisions are now or never. In both family and career.
Some decisions will change the entire trajectory of our lives. For both good and bad. I’ve decided full-time work will wait. I may never go as high as I might have, and that’s a reality. But it’s a reality I’ve chosen for me and our family. So now, instead of thinking about what I’m missing in the workplace, I think about what I’d never get back here at home. Plus, I’m busy building my resume for a stay at home mom anyway.
4. You won’t lose your influence, you’ll be re-directing it
I talk about this ad nauseum in my how to keep your kids out of counselling series, but in a nutshell: what you do has a profound affect on your children. Though you may be giving up power and influence in the adult world to come home, you will not be without influence. In fact, there is no greater influence on your children than you.
This means you can help mold their view about the world, their culture, and people different from them. You’ll influence how they interact with family and friends. You can introduce them to the joys of reading, travelling and learning. Though it might not seem so important now – when they still need their diapers changed and can’t shower on their own – these same people will grow into tomorrow’s adults. Tomorrow’s policy makers. Tomorrow’s leaders.
5. Ultimately, it’s not about us
Society and culture are always talking. They say we shouldn’t have to give up our own interests and that we deserve to get what we want. While I’m not against having what I want (who is) or working toward personal goals, it has to be said. Parenting is not about us. Whether you stay at home, work from home, or work outside the home, you’re going to have to make choices and sacrifices for the good of your family. And sometimes – many times – they will not be choices that make you jump up and down and scream “Oh my goodness I’m so glad I’m doing this mom thing right now…”
When you get up for the third time during the night to feed a baby, it’s not about you. When you change diapers and puree and send someone to time out for the 235th time, it’s not about you.
I think every mother feels the lack of social interaction at times. Mothers of toddlers aren’t known for saying, “lunchtime conversation was so stimulating.” But still, even so, I find many opportunities throughout the day to exercise the brain the good Lord gave me. Only you can know what’s best for your family.
That may be working or it may be staying at home. But either way, don’t worry about wasting your intelligence on your children. I think our children are worth “wasting” anything on.
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