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Tuesday
Feb282012

The relief of no career

I have never had a "career."  When my kids' friends were asked what I "did," my kids would say, "She's my mother."  Unlike most women, I don't have an identity to add to the designation of mother, Christian woman, or wife.  

When I had my first child, I was part way through university. I didn't really know what I wanted to do with an education other than soak it all in and love it, and I wanted to have my children when I was young, so my husband and I began talking about having children.  I got a very good job working for an executive in a bank.  He was very good to me, and I was good at my job.  The plan was for me to return to work and my mother would babysit for me.  Things did not work out that way.  My father's company transferred him and he took my babysitter with him.  In addition to that, my boss, whom I loved working for, went back to the U.K. and I was about to be re-assigned.  Being re-assigned in a big corporation such as the one I worked for meant floating, i.e. never being in one place for too long, until I could be matched up with another executive.  I didn't particularly like that prospect, but I went back to work for one month to give it a test run.  I hated it.

I missed my child.  I was away from her from 7:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.  I hated it.  I wanted to be with her, to hold her little body close to me and smell her silky head and cuddle with her.  I quit my job and focused on that.  I left a job, not a career.  I was not plagued with the concerns of many women I know who felt very torn at leaving behind a career, wondering if they would be bored at home, wondering if they had committed professional suicide by leaving their jobs, wondering if they'd ever regret doing it, wondering how they would survive without those pats on the back for a job well done.  I was happy to leave it behind.  I liked my boss and I was good at my job, but it was BO-RING.  It's easier to look ahead when you're not worried about what you're leaving behind.  It was under God's sovereign direction, and I know that it was His wisdom that kept me from continuing to work.

While my kids were young, I worked on my degree part-time.  That was my way of keeping active the other parts of me.  It is not easy to be with small children all day long, and when my kids were young, my evening hours were for reading and learning.  I also threw myself into other things, sewing clothes for my kids, getting to know the other mothers on my street, taking the kids to activities, baking, quilting.  I don't let myself get bored if I can help it.  I just find something else to tackle.

I can honestly say that over the 22 years I have been home with my kids that I have not spent a great deal of time mourning the loss of my "other" life.  God has brought so many things into my life along the way, that I haven't had time to feel cheated or deprived.  One of the greatest blessings of being home with my kids, aside from just being with them, has been the time for bible study.  If I was working, I would have less time for that.  Working full-time would have meant we didn't homeschool, and those years were among the best years for our family.

So, now I sit here with no career to go back to, and my youngest child is off to university in the fall.  Is now the time I feel like I've missed out?  Because I have nothing to "go back to?"  No.  There is still so much to do, so much to learn, so many unread books on my shelf, so many opportunities I can pursue, so many ways to serve.  Every now and then I do feel self-conscious about having no particular career to call my own, because to be honest, there is a certain bias toward those who don't work.  It means I must be wasting my time; it means I am unproductive.  

My dad said something to me once that made me think hard about jobs and careers.  My father was an executive in a bank.  He was often responsible for training and equipping people to work in his department, corporate lending.  He said it often took a couple of years to get them up to speed and able to work with minimal supervision.  Some of those people were women, and he said he found it frustrating when he would spend two years training a woman who would turn around and go on maternity leave for a year and then waffle about whether she wanted to come back to work or not.  That doesn't sound productive to me.  But if you were to point that out to someone, that a woman may do that and decrease productivity, you're treading on hallowed ground, and you'd better be quiet.  It is not politically correct at all.

God is sovereign and He sets in motion those things He knows are for our good.  I believe He knew it was for my good and the good of my children that I be "just" a regular housewife.  I am lucky to have the freedom to be here in this home, doing what I do.  I hope I never take it for granted.   There are just so many things I would never have been able to do if I'd been working full-time, and I would have missed so much of my children's lives.  Society tries to tell women we can have it all.  Don't believe it.  

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Reader Comments (23)

I have a friend who was interviewing a woman for a position. When he mentioned that the hours were long, and that many women with young children struggled with the time they would be away from home, he found himself in a whole hot mess of wrath from anti-discriminatory organizations for what was meant to be a helpful warning.

I have been home full-time for about four years now, and it's been harder than I thought. I didn't like my job and was thankful to leave, but I likely have committed professional suicide by stepping out completely. I do worry that we'll need the money someday, and I'll have to try to work my way back into the field. It's easy for me to say I trust God, but it's a bit harder when I have to actually live out my words. :)

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStaci

I worked outside of the home for over 25 years. I built up a very successful career according to society's standards. At a time when it made no sense financially, my husband felt the Lord leading him to bring me home. My children were grown, the U.S. economy was on the brink of disaster and my husband was in the construction business.

That was 3 years ago. Our economy has worsened. Gas prices and diesel are at an all time high. Food prices are escalating and some would tell you that I should return to the workplace and reignite my six figure career. We would disagree. God has met every one of our NEEDS. Read closely, I said needs, not wants. There is a huge difference.

I have been told that since being home, I have \\\"too much time on my hands\\\". The reasons being, other women see me growing our own food, canning, making my own bread, cooking all our meals, and caring for my grand children after school so they don't sit in a classroom with a sitter until 6pm every night. I have never been busier and had more purpose than in these past 3 years.

God chose me to be my husband's helper suitable. Not another man's in some office far from the kingdom of my home. Be encouraged readers, the highest calling and career is right inside your house, changing the world one act of service at a time. Teach your daughter's and your sons's what it means to build a home, not buy and furnish a house.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJerranna

Staci, sometimes, I worry that we may need a second income, too. I think the only job I could get would be a minimum wage job, so that sounds daunting. One of my worst fears is having to do something like be a greeter in Wal-Mart, but I guess if it was the difference between eating and not, I'd have to do it, and I'd have to learn to be okay with it.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim Shay

I've been working outside the home for all but 6 months of our 19-year marriage. I wanted to be a "career" woman for a long time. It's only been in the last few years that I've really wanted to be home. Sometimes I wish I'd quit years ago and we'd never gotten dependent upon my income, but I know the Lord has used my work to bless our family. When my husband lost his job, I was thankful to have a job so that he could return to school. Now he's in a job making less than 1/2 of what he made before, so my income is absolutely necessary. Radically simplifying our lives (and having a husband and teenage daughter who pitch in) has made it possible for me to work and not feel like I have to burn the candle at both ends. I've learned to focus on what blesses my family most and say "no" to a lot of other things.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

I stopped working after my daughter was born. Being a full-time mom was much harder than my career, because it revealed how little I knew of self-sacrifice. When I became a single mom, I couldn't go back to the computer industry because my skills were obsolete after 15 years. I thank God for His provision in providing work in a completely different field. However, it was hard for the judge and a lawyer to understand why I would choose to live with less so I could be at home rather than putting my daughter in school for the sake of making as much money as possible. You can't put a price tag on some things.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpersis

The whole issue of a working woman is a personal/family issue, and it's different for everyone. What we all need to do is support each other in those decisions. There's a lot of things we'll never do because we've lived on one income, but it was what I needed to do.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim Shay

This is a very encouraging post, Kim. And your last comment is so right on -- even in valuing and communicating value of mothering, it's really important that we encourage one another in the situations/paths God has each of our families. That can look very different from family to family -- even in families seeking the Lord first, seeking to nurture our children.

I'm thankful that when I did work outside the home it wasn't a "career". . . was very thankful to leave my job when Hubby got his current job. Yet, I look back and see what a blessing it was to have Hubby be the primary care-giver and home school parent (While in grad school! And teaching! He's amazing!) and how good it was that I was the primary earner. I know I really enjoy and value the time I have now with the boys even more (even though I still struggle. . . some mom things I'm just not great at doing, to be honest.)

And for some women, the vocation of motherhood does not exclude other callings in life, callings from the Lord. I see that. . . Yet, I totally agree with you -- it's more than sufficient to be "just a mom" as our callings.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTulipGirl

Oh, Kim. Lovely post and very timely encouragement for me. Thank you. Also enjoyed today's post as Kicking Horse is on my top five list of things I cannot get here in Wales and am really missing.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

TulipGirl, I think it's so great that your husband homeschooled your kids for a while. It's good to have another kind of teacher when we homeschool. That would never have worked for us. There is simply no way I could ever earn enough to support our family. Your boys no doubt loved having their dad be their teacher.

February 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterKim

Much much agree with the post! I feel so privileged to see all the ways God provides for our family even on one income. He daily amazes me . . . not to mention the fire-hose of blessings from devoting my energies to being a helpmate to my husband and being able to homeschool our kids. Difficult? Yes, for sure at times. Time-consuming? Most definitely. Boring? Never lol! But don't most good investments require perseverance, patience, and time? I'd say, "To each his own," but Titus 2 and even Gen. 2 (being a helper to your own husband) seem to agree with your post as well. So, I agree--don't believe the lie, ladies! God will provide (although His provisions may not always "look" how we think they should). Love Him, trust Him, and enjoy the ride!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennia

Oh, Jen! No Kicking Horse? My heart goes out to you!! Maybe you can get someone to send you a care package. It was on sale the other day, so I stocked up.

February 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterKim

How lovely to read your post, it is a breath of fresh air, thank you!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHazel

I stayed home with my daughters for 17 years, homeschooling them all but that last year, and then, like Persis, I became a single mom. I was in the same situation as she was, my computer skills were obsolete after being out of that field for so many years. At the time, I was a month shy of 51 years old, and was starting out as though I was 18 again. I am still trying to adjust to all of this, and have to remind myself that this is God's will for my life. Not a day goes by that I don't wish I could be home with my daughter. I am thankful for my job, and for the Lord's provision, I just miss my daughter, and wish I had more energy. I do praise the Lord for His provisions for us, and for my growth in Him these past few years.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

Diane, single mothers have a very difficult situation. It is something we just know nothing about until we are in that situation. Your recognition of the Lord's provision is such a testimony to how the Lord can sustain us in anything. I am regularly blessed by Persis and how she shares about this.

February 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterKim

Personally, I think Christian women should simply support one another in whatever decisions they make about kids and careers. If you stay at home with your children the uber feminists are unhappy with you, if you work outside the home, the church is unhappy with you. As a Christian married woman who worked while raising kids in a church where that was "simply not done, my dear", I think it would be nice if Christian women ceased beating each other up about their choices when they are made prayerfully and in the fear of God. Not every family is supposed to look alike and do things alike. God has made us all so different.

I also think it's wrong to promote the idea that if you choose to stay at home with your kids and don't acquire any marketable skills or plans for your post-childrearing life, that you will never regret it. That simply isn't true for everybody. Some women do fine staying at home taking care of a husband and having no kids to raise and some really desire a new focus. The economic downturn has also disproportionately affected middle-aged men in white collar jobs. Some women may find that making a financial contribution to the family is a necessity if they want to stay in that nice home that they can't sell.

Can't we just support each other instead of insisting that everyone's gotta do it the same?

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa E

Biblically, women do not have the responsibility to be providers (financially). So to say that someone would commit professional suicide by leaving their career/job, and then constantly worrying that they'd have nothing to go back to one day, are putting a burden on themselves God never meant for women to have. Women who feel guilty about "Just being a mom" or "Just being a wife" or home-manager (which IS work!) are piling on themselves the thorns and thistles of work along with the pain of childbirth that we have to deal with anyway. Children are blessings to be stewarded, and it is good and right to want to be there to raise them. Ladies, do not burden yourselves! There is plenty to do to learn how to run a household well, learn finances, budgeting, home management, organization, serving, ministering, on and on. It is sad that society has engrained into women that they need "real" careers, when you can be a brilliant home-maker and helper to your husband. If you are miserable at your job and missing your little ones, there is a real reason for that. I'm not speaking for unique circumstances that require a woman (maybe a single mom) to work, but if it is a self-imposed burden due to feeling guilty or unproductive, then I encourage you to pray about it and search out the scriptures to see what it is God has called women to do.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

My mom had it all, just not all at once. I wrote this blog about her life, a mom of 7 children. http://raisinghischild.com/2011/04/03/42/

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterromelle

Emily, I remember when I thought just like you. I wish with all my heart that I could take back the ugly things that I said and thought about women who didn't line up with my way of thinking about what women are supposed to be and do (which in my estimation was the biblical way). I think that if you'll go back and just look at the Scripture without this or that book on "biblical womanhood" putting so much meat on the bones, you'll see that there is a lot of room for families live out godly principles as God directs THEM to do. It isn't a cookie cutter.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa E

I'm walking in your shoes. I left a job in accounting 24 years ago to stay at home. I'll graduate my last homeschooled child this May, then she'll be off to college in the fall.

I've never been bored at home, thankfully, and I don't intend to get bored now. I don't know exactly what God has in store for me next, but I want to embrace it with enthusiasm. I'm thankful that my career in wifedom and motherhood won't have to end.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa notes

Lisa notes: I like your attitude!

February 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterKim

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