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.