I want to be a MOM.(by Bethany Patchin)

"How many of you want to be at-home moms?"

The question, from my tenth grade English teacher, was directed at the females in the room. We made up over half of the class of 25 sophomores. I proudly raised my hand, then waited for at least a few others to join me. The room was completely still. Everyone stared at me.

Four years later not much has changed. Marriage is closer than ever for my peers, yet only a few of the young women I come into contact with admit they would postpone a career for children. Those who do confide in me only after I’ve told them of my own feelings. They seem relieved to find a contemporary who doesn’t mock their desire.

When I finally got the nerve up to tell my adviser that I want to get married and be a mom after I graduate, I watched his expression go from surprise, to dismay, to disapproval. "I wouldn’t have expected you to be that type," he said, shaking his head and looking at me with great disappointment. "You just seem so — involved."

He paused, then asked in a hushed, sad voice, "Is it pressure from your boyfriend?"

A laugh escaped me before I could stop it — his tone was the same as if he had asked me if my boyfriend was abusive.

"No," I informed him, "I don’t have a boyfriend." Despite my desire to get married, I’m not at college to hunt down a husband. Marriage and raising a family will not be the epitome of my existence — I enjoy looking forward to them, but I’m not living in the future.

I do hope to someday serve as a wife and mother, and when God determines it is time for me to take on those roles, I will so do with a willing heart.

"Just" A Mom
Most people wonder why I am bothering to get a degree if all I want is to be a wife and mom. That question irks me.

I love to learn and want to have a wealth of knowledge to impart to my children. Why shouldn’t a housewife be educated? I want to equip myself and hone my skills to the point of craft.

My mother earned her degree in elementary education 20 years ago, and promptly became a housemom after graduating. Since then my brother, sisters and I have been her highest priority, but during the tight times she helped out by using her degree for substitute teaching. Though we didn’t like having her gone, she was able to carry some of the burden my father carried. I want to be able to do this for my own husband if the need ever arises.

I am at college because I realize there are seasons to life, and mothering will only be my summer. My mom, now 40, is the co-owner of my dad’s window dealership. In the last five years, as my siblings and I have grown up and her mothering duties have lightened, she has become intricately involved in every aspect of the company, though very few people are aware of it. Depending on God’s plan for me, I could be done rearing my children in 20 years like her. By age 30 I might even have enough time to do part-time illustration and writing during the day. I am thankful that technology has opened up even more avenues than my mother had available to her to accommodate home-based work.

"Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that try to build it." If God gives you children, rear them with your whole mind, soul and strength. If He has given you the talents to be an engineer, the same thing applies. But I am dubious that He would ever ask us to be fully both at one time. There seems to be a perception among women my age that we will have enough time and energy to do and be everything — full-time wife, mother and career woman all rolled into one. I agree that God wants us to use and enjoy the talents He’s given us, but He never promised us inexhaustible resources. He created us with limitations and only placed 24 hours in a day. We cannot expect to juggle all the hats and be the best we can be at all of them. The reality is that if I choose to be full-time in a career, my husband and kids will only have me part time.

Danielle Crittenden makes an excellent observation in What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us — that quality time with kids can’t be scheduled into a day. Children want a mother’s presence, the knowledge that she will be there when they have a question or a story to tell — but quite often they simply want her to do her own work while they color and play with pals. And those memorable times — their first steps and words, their profound utterances of child wisdom, the moments of belly laughing together — happen at the most unexpected times during day-in, day-out living. The chances are much higher that a mother will miss out on them if she is working outside the home.

Money Can’t Buy Me Love
I can guess what most people think when they find out about my lack of career aspirations. They picture me in 10 years: dressed in sweats doing laundry for my four kids; my degree collecting dust somewhere on a bookshelf; living in a one-income-sized home; driving a used minivan.

They imagine my peers, however, utilizing their education to the fullest. They will maintain a measure of independence unfettered by familial life, thanks to daycare, public schools and extracurricular activities. They will naturally be rewarded with great financial and material gain — but at what cost to their spouses and children?

The Christian life is about sacrifices, giving up certain things for the sake of greater long—term benefits. I know there could be times of financial strain in my marriage. I know I might encounter tension with the majority of my married female peers because of my choice to stay at home. I know I will have to give up a lot of personal time — there will be nights that I am itching to read a big fat novel in one sitting instead of reciting Hop on Pop for the fiftieth time to the kids. I’m not saying that I’m going to derive pleasure from changing diapers and cleaning up burpy blankets. But its only by sacrifice that we understand what true love, commitment and maturity really mean. Jesus was the embodiment of this. Being a husband and father, or wife and mother, forces you to look outside yourself to the needs of others. As soon as I become a mother my children will become my career. What better way to utilize my time and talents?

I want my children to know that they are as important to me as a career. Because of the choices my mom made when she was little older than I, my three younger siblings are reaping the benefits of having a full-time mom, one who is available for conversation, hugs and laughs (and a healthy amount of arguments about chores) any time of day.

I want to give that gift to my own children. If it means I drive a beater car and shop at thrift stores for the rest of my life, so be it. Children don't know the difference between Goodwill and GAP. I certainly didn't. And if I have daughters, I will raise them with the knowledge that they have full abilities to be and do all that God wants, in their wholeness in Christ, in their education — and in the roles that may come with being a woman.

Worthwhile Wrinkles
There will always be women who scoff at me, who are disappointed because they think I let down our gender. There will always be the professors who sigh because I am not living up to their idea of potential. But I know what makes me happy and I’m slowly learning not to feel guilty about sharing it with people. I look forward to giving up my independence. The word dependency has come to carry negative connotations: "an unhealthy need for a person or substance, an addiction." But I see it as a positive reliance on others for companionship and love.

Mothering is a career choice that is rarely respected. We should recognize and affirm women who opt to invest time in their children. The Bible is clear that sons and daughters are among the greatest blessings we will ever receive.

A friend of mine once said his greatest desire is to create something beautiful and lasting. That stuck with me. I want to create a beautiful and lasting marriage with a man, and with that man I want to bear and rear children, which are the most exquisite and eternal creations we humans can take part in fashioning. Architects design buildings that will someday fall, programmers construct computer software that will eventually be obsolete — but fathers and mothers cultivate souls that will never die. How wonderful to experience just an inkling of what God feels as our Father.

When I am old and I look at my wrinkled hands, I want to know that the creases came from — among many things — years of playing music, reading books, drawing pictures and writing stories. But my greatest hope is that those lines will remind me most of hours spent washing my babies’ and grandbabies’ tummies, tucking them into bed and teaching them what I have learned.


Anonymous said...

Mothering is a career choice that is rarely respected. Yes, I wanna be an at-home mom! Come on~~

Huh~~ said...

The Beatles got a song named "can't buy me love" also.