How am I "Using" my Advanced Education in Motherhood
I have been blessed with a recent peace in understanding the role my advanced education plays in my motherhood. I have always wanted to be a nurse, and I have always wanted to be a mom. I never really envisioned my future family life balance with my professional career. My mom was a nurse, and I remember her working, and I remember her being home. I was not one who dreamt of staying home to homeschool my kids. I was not one who ever thought through the process of what working less hours outside the home than my husband would really look like. I just loved learning, loved my professional education, and loved the idea of “using my talents to the best God gave me,” thanks Dad. Enter young motherhood, and I was finishing graduate school and working full time when our first son turned 1. Unexpectedly, a year later I found myself home with our 2 kids, reading about homeschooling & starting moms groups! (not the plan!) I vividly remember one night when I was 9 months pregnant with our second son, we had friends, and a newly-pregnant-working-mom friend said, “what a privilege you are home with your children! I hope we are able to afford that luxury.” What? I was just really thrown off by that thought process, I had completely taken for granted my situation! The next week I was questioned by a different crowd, “don’t you miss using your degree? don’t you need a break from your kids?” Well, yes, and yes. Oh, I’m just taking a break from working to move into our new house, and after our second son, I am definitely going back to work, I miss it so much! It started to confuse me, and I actually became resentful toward my husband for working 2 jobs to provide for us, while I worked none! (I wish I could go back & kick myself!) I didn’t have a clear vision for myself or my family life that didn’t include my working as a nurse. I would often be embarrassed to be “just” home, or have a feeling of unfulfillment. It was ultimately an identify issue.
I luckily had the blessing of time. I dove deeper into my prayer life, began spiritual direction, read vicariously, found blogs & podcasts, learned about personality and temperaments, (highly recommend!) and formed friendships with all kinds of moms! Moms who loved their careers & found vocation in outside the home work, moms who loved staying home, moms who had to work for money, moms who worked part time for enjoyment. My favorites were the introverted moms with higher education (lawyers, chemists, special education teachers) who were proudly choosing to stay home with their kids, (just because they were so opposite of me!) I learned what “work” really is; (please read Saint John Paul II’s, Saint Jose Escriva’s, and Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross’s writings on work). In summary, we are all moms are “working” moms! As one of my favorite podcast hosts, Dr. Meg Meeker always says, “Working as a physician was the easy part, working to raise my children was the real hard work!” I broke some of my own ignorant barriers of labeling women, and with the help of an amazing Theology of the Body retreat worked to accept my uniqueness and identity as daughter of the King! Ridding labels of “just a mom,” “just a nurse,” “a working mom,” a “stay-at-home-mom,” to simply a beloved daughter of our Lord. That is the path to true confidence, peace, self-awareness and self-acceptance.
I learned from moms before me. Please read One Beautiful Dream to find your blue flame! (I have a few haha between NP work, teaching NFP, blogging, and leading Blessed is She conversations), Edith Stein Letters to Women (SOOOO amazing all women need to read!), Being There, & blogs like Women’s Work & Pausing a Career to Stay Home. I asked for advice & interviewed others. Although I often felt anxious that I was not “using” my degree, after 4 years of not working as a nurse, that research has led to a healthier view of education, work and womanhood. Not being currently employed with a paycheck, does not mean I am not “using” my degree! My education and my experiences are a part of who I am. My degrees do not define me, nor do they ever become useless. Quite the opposite! Educate a woman, and you will educate her entire family, they say. Because my experiences in collegiate and graduate training have shaped me into the woman I am today, they will help to shape my husband and my children. I “use” my education as a nurse and nurse practitioner every single day, because just like any experience, that education is a part of me, and will always serve a purpose in my life. (Special shout out to the nursing/medical field!) Because I now believe that my biggest purpose in life is to serve my family, that education and experience will continue to be “used” for the benefit of the greatest unit of society; my family! Nothing is wasted, nothing is purposeless.
Seasons in motherhood are always changing. I recently went back to part-time work outside the home, and for right now, as a first-born, extraverted, homeschooling mom, (thank you Sarah for this post!) working 10 hours as a Nurse Practitioner seems to be a perfect fit. I’m accepting the fact that it may soon be more, it may soon be less, but this time, I have a healthier view of “work.” I know where I am truly needed and to whom I will really impact the most in my life. I’m more detached from my identity resting in a professional label, and most importantly, I know now, whether I am employed outside the home or not, I will always be “using” my advanced education.
I know all moms situations are drastically different, and there is NO one right or better way. There are all different types of moms, all different types of saints. Don’t let your regrets or grass is greener temptations ruin the good moments in your life. The Lord can redeem all things, especially all of your work and mothering related woes. We still have our quote from the Easter season in our kitchen, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat, but if it dies it produces much fruit.” John 12:23-24. I think this is perfect to relate to many of our working/mothering related situations. Often when we work less, we want something more, and when we work more, we want something less. Well, the reality is that we will have to die to many things in our motherhood. Whether it is a degree, money, time or certain expectations. But I pray that as you come to a peace in your true identity, that no matter what life circumstances you are in, your realize that your experiences and education are never ever being wasted! Whether your life looks different from the way you envisioned it right now, or you are wishing for something else, do not doubt. Motherhood is the greatest honor, and the greatest way we could ever be using our knowledge, our efforts, and our love. As a mom, you will always be sharing different parts of who you are, the experiences that have shaped you, and the degrees you have earned.
Thank you for your brilliance St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross! Happy Feast Day, & may God bless all moms in every situation! It is the most qualified job you can have! Please share with a friend & follow me to hear more :)
“The world doesn’t need what women have, it needs what women are.” - Edith Stein