While homeschooling is full of variety, with its unexpected and daily drama, it can also become chaotic and overwhelming for some. Much like striving to achieve and maintain a successful career, both can take a toll on you. For some women, either of these pursuits outside of God’s purpose and plan can lead to a sense of worthlessness, regret and frustration. If left unchecked, these feelings can transition into varied levels of depression. Once we become mothers, however, I believe that God intends for us to prioritize motherhood and to see it as our calling to disciple our children to become future sons and daughters of God. For all of my adolescence and young adulthood, I believed that I could be a successful business woman and mother at the same time, and nobody could have convinced me otherwise. Now that I have matured and become a mother, I see how important it is for us as women to prioritize motherhood and to see it as God’s calling and purpose for our lives.
I was in my late thirties when my husband and I began the process of adopting our first two children, ages one and two, in 2007. At the time we began the adoption process, I owned two businesses that consumed my time and energy during most of my waking hours. Between managing the businesses’ overhead, networking, marketing, hiring and managing employees, stroking clients and improving my skill set, I have no idea how I had time to be a wife. I guess it helped that my husband was equally as busy. I lived to succeed in my profession. Not only was I driven by accessing financial wealth, I desired to be world renowned in my profession.
Once I became a mom, however, my drive to acquire wealth and worldwide fame decreased drastically. I made a lot of money owning my businesses, significantly more than my husband, so despite this decrease in my motivation, I attempted to juggle my life as a wife, mother and business owner for a while. Why couldn’t I do it all, I asked myself? I have known other women who were successful business owners, wives and mothers. I’ve read about many, many more. If they could do it, so could I! I’ve always believed in working smarter and not harder, so I found the best daycare we could afford that was close to my work, and I dropped the children off in the morning while my husband picked them up in the evening.
After approximately a year of three different daycares, we now had two children who during their eight to nine hours a day in daycare Monday through Friday were forgetting everything that we had taught them on the weekend. As I assessed this situation, I discovered that my children were spending more of their waking hours in daycare than they were spending with me and my husband. I thought about taking the children to work with me, but I knew that when I was at work, my work demanded and received my full and undivided attention. So taking the children to work not an option, and my husband’s job would not allow him to care for them at work either. I had a choice to make, but when I really thought about, it wasn’t a hard choice. So, I made it. I made the decision to prioritize being a mother. I walked away from my career and my profession to become a full-time mother and homeschooler, and I never looked back.
Former clients and some of my friends have asked me if I miss being a business owner, and I tell them very honestly, “No, I don’t.” Being a full-time mother and homeschooler has given me a much more fulfilling life than being a successful business owner. Sure, I impacted people’s lives as a business owner and as an employer, but it’s not nearly as rewarding as impacting the lives of my children. In reflecting back on my life and the choices I made to leave my career and then shortly thereafter to begin homeschooling, it is clear to me that God called me to be a mother in 2007. I just didn’t know in 2007 that accepting that call would lead me to leave my career and profession in order to fully pursue this call of motherhood. In accepting this call, however, I have received benefits and rewards that I never dreamed of or thought possible from being just a mother. I have a wonderful relationship with all four of my children. Homeschooling my four children has allowed our whole family to grow closer together faster than by sending them to school while my husband and I worked during the day. We have been able to identify each of our children’s unique spiritual gifts and develop means and methods to help develop these gifts early in their educational disciplines. We have been able to educate them in a Christian environment, which is extremely important to us, and best of all, our children, all under the age of ten years old, are happy, well-adjusted and poised to become productive citizens in society. My husband is also reaping the benefits of my decision to prioritize motherhood as well. He likes home-cooked meals and desserts, and he loves having a wife that feels that she is fulfilling her calling and purpose in life. He works very hard to make sure that nothing, absolutely nothing, gets in the way of my desire to fulfill my calling.
I understand that my decision is not right for every woman. I understand that many women desire to have a career outside of the home in addition to being a mother. But I have spoken with a lot of women, and I have read the stories of others, and these women often feel conflicted about their choice to continue pursuing their professional careers during motherhood. They want to spend more time mothering, but they are scared that they will lose a part of themselves if they don’t maintain their careers. They feel guilty, because they can’t be there for their children to do many of the things they would like to do, but they believe that the income from their careers is critical to their family’s survival. If you are a woman striving to “have it all,” and you feel conflicted about the choices you are making, I want to encourage you to think about prioritizing motherhood in your life because deciding to shift my time and energy from work to my two beautiful daughters was the absolute best decision I could have made. At the time, I knew very little about homeschooling, and I never thought it was for me, but now seven years later, we have four kids that are reaping the benefits of my decision to leave my career and become a homeschool mother.
I’m also not saying that there aren’t women who can do it all or have it all, I’m just saying that I couldn’t do it, and maybe, just maybe, you can’t either. You see, I had to admit to myself that as good as I was, and even as good as I thought I was, I could not “do it all” and do everything equally as well. Somebody or something was going to get less of my attention, and in my experience, things that get less of my attention aren’t as successful as the things that get more of it. I could not keep all of my many plates spinning equally as fast at the same time, and spinning any of the plates slower was the same as breaking one. I don’t believe that I am the only mother who has felt this way. In fact, I’ve read that even the mothers who have it all feel this way at times. They, of course, pressed through these feelings to come out on the other side. But I wonder what it feels like to be on the other side. Does being on the other side mean that you accept the fact that you can’t be there for everyone at the same time? Do you accept that doing your best is good enough despite the results? Does it mean that everyone is happy and accepting of the reality that there are times when you simply are not going to be available for them. I wonder because I know how success felt when I prioritized my businesses, and I know what success feels like when I prioritized motherhood. For me, prioritizing motherhood has been much more fulfilling, and I am absolutely certain that our family would not be and could not be what it is today, if I had continued trying to maintain my career during motherhood.
I think this quote from Christine Caine says it best: “I have found that knowing who and what I’m not is as important to keeping me on track with my purpose and calling as knowing who and what I am!” If you are a mother, you must ask yourself “Who and what are you not?” What is God’s purpose for your life as a mother? Has God really called any mother to prioritize her ambitions, career or even her self-fulfillment over motherhood? Hasn’t God called us to disciple our children and to take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow Him? For those of you who are conflicted about pursuing outside careers during motherhood and for those of you who wonder whether choosing to prioritize motherhood is enough, I want to encourage you to view motherhood as a career path designed by the hand of God. When we put God first and His righteousness, he has promised to add all of the things we had previously been seeking—honor, status and fulfillment. It may not come in the ways we expect it, but when it does come, it will be more satisfying than we have ever experienced.
Now, when I wake up in the morning, instead of focusing on how much money I need to make that day or that week, I feel energized to make a difference in my children’s lives, and when I go to bed at night, instead of worrying how tomorrow will be, I lie down exhausted knowing everything I endured during the day was worth it, and most days, I look forward to doing it all over again the next morning. After experiencing both career and motherhood, I can’t imagine a more valuable trade off than prioritizing motherhood over career, choosing an eternal purpose over a temporary one.