And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Though I have very strong political views, I remain apolitical in this place, so please don’t misunderstand the nature of my post today. This post is meant to encourage women who choose to stay at home with their children.
I emphasize choose because, in a recent speech, President Obama made stay-at-home motherhood sound like a sentence rather than a voluntary and honorable choice when he said, “That’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”
And why not?
Before I begin, please understand I’m not denigrating those who work outside the home. This is a choice (there’s that concept again) for many women; for many others, it is a necessity. My choice was to stay at home.
I made that choice when I was 17, around the time Smith College was trying to recruit me. I also walked away from a full music scholarship because I determined a music career wasn’t the best choice for someone who wanted to stay home. My secondary passion was writing, so I would instead go into journalism, which would allow me to freelance from home while raising my children. Music would become secondary.
While in college, I turned down an opportunity to audition for a contract with a major record label. This did not fit in with my plan. Later, as an editor at a major metropolitan newspaper, I chose to leave behind opportunities for advancement so I could stay home with my firstborn.
Please note staying at home was not by default. In high school, I was in the top 2 percent of students nationwide. In college, I was one in four from a class of thousands selected for the senior honor society. I ascended quickly in my career. I’m an educated, accomplished woman. Nor was it easy. Our income was nearly cut in half. So why would I make such a humble and humbling choice?
The idea was fostered in my topsy-turvy childhood. My late sister and I were abandoned several times over and were abused in between. In our home life, we never knew stability. We never knew nurturing. We never knew love.
I was determined to be a chain-breaker – the one who would pass on a very different legacy to her own children. I would sacrifice whatever I needed to sacrifice to be there for them, to love them, to nurture them, to teach and train them. I would be there to pour Christ into their lives every waking moment. I would be there to point them to a gracious Savior who had entrusted this stewardship of motherhood to me.
A former colleague who didn’t affirm my calling commented that she needed more in life than to say “goo-goo ga-ga” all day long. I knew in my heart those days were precious and few, and I didn’t want to miss one of them. Was it humbling? Yes. But did my role require I lower my worth and intellectual capacity? Absolutely not. I taught my children the Scriptures. I taught them the classics. I taught them music. I taught them critical thinking. I taught them the value of hard work. I taught them to evaluate their lives and decisions in the light of God’s truth with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Do I wonder what my life would have been like had I gone to an Ivy League School, had I pursued a career as a professional musician, had I climbed up the corporate ladder? Of course. But I have great job satisfaction as I look at the now-grown products of my efforts. And my choice is one this American is glad she made. I ask you to respect it, Mr. President.