I wrote about my oldest son last time, but now it is my daughter who is challenging me! She brought home a rather simple project. The teacher sent home a large body cut out with instructions to clothe it in their future career. It is meant to get them thinking about what they want to be when they grow up. Hopefully, it gives them a goal for their academics. My daughter first announced that she wanted to be a ballerina!! Is is bad to say my heart sank a bit? When I was her age, I was convinced that I would be a doctor. I knew exactly where I would go to college and I even had plans on how I was going to afford Harvard. I wanted to make a lot of money and be respected by all because I was a doctor.
I was born in 1974 and my generation was very fortunate to have all the support to study science, go to college and “be anything we wanted to be” with the mentality that women could “have it all”. I was taught not to rely on a man for money. Marriage was an ok thing, but always be able to support yourself and have money in a private account in case your husband left you high and dry. So I was always fiercely independent and self sufficient. I was drawn to study the subjects that typically boys studied and I was determined to be better than them!! I was exactly what the feminist movement wanted and created.
It all began to unravel my senior year of college. I was dating my future husband, getting to know my Catholic faith, preparing for the MCAT, and planning the next 10 years of my life. For once in my life I didn’t know what to do. For the first time in my life I wanted to get married. I wanted to have children. Then I realized the rigors of medical school and wondered how they could fit together. My future husband wasn’t asking me to choose, in fact he was always supportive of whatever I wanted. It wasn’t even something we talked about. The rosy world the feminist movement painted for me began to erode. No matter what I chose it would have consequences in my life for y ears to come. If I chose to go to medical school I could be jeopardizing my relationship. If I went to medical school and got married I would always be torn between my husband and school (not to mention bringing children into the mix). If I decided not go to medical school and get married I was giving up on a life long dream and settling for less (according to society’s measurement). If it had been just a few years earlier, before I really got to know Jesus, I would have left for medical school because being fiercely independent and self sufficient would have been the ONLY choice. However, I prayed and prayed about it. Love won out in the end and I chose a life with my husband over medical school.
Like most decisions, when you pray about them, and follow God, peace comes over you. I have never looked back and regretted my choice. However, the immediate response from those around me was disbelief and “what are you doing?” I was crazy to them! How could I give up being a doctor to get married. Didn’t I know that this wasn’t 1960. I could have both husband and career. There was never a need to concede one. Yet, I never saw how the two could co-exist without MAJOR sacrifice to one or both. I went on to work at a biotech company doing research for a few years. Then I got my teaching credential and taught 7 th grade life science. I married the love of my life and grew deeper in my faith. When the time came to start a family, God gently spoke to my heart and asked me to stay home to care for them. So I gave up my career to foster the lives that God gave to me. It hasn’t been easy, but always, I have had peace in my heart.
I am glad that I didn’t listen to and believe in the idea to never to rely on a man. How can a marriage survive these days without husband and wife clinging to each other? I am glad that I am not torn between my career and my children. Raising my children has become my career. Is there any better contribution I could make then to raise happy, healthy, well adjusted adults? I have rejected most of what I was brought up to believe about how I should be as a woman. I am a stay at home mom. I fully rely on my husband financially. Most importantly I believe how I live is what God is calling me to be. It is not oppressive, but freeing to be who God intended me to be. Yet, as transformed as my life is, for that fleeting moment I wanted my little girl to say she was going to be a doctor or a lawyer or a scientist. I wanted her to aim to have a big, powerful career because isn’t that what we should be teaching our little girls. I was feeling like my choice to stay home wasn’t giving her the example she needed. Yet, it was those very ideals that led me to so much confusion.
Then it dawned on me. I need to teach her how to discern her talents and use them to build up the Kingdom in God. When I look back on my life, that is exactly what I did. I allowed God to gently lead me to become a stay at home mom. I am sure I just complicated a simple homework assignment. I don’t want my daughter or my son’s to get caught up in the worldly view of picking of career, but I want them to see themselves as God sees them. I want them to follow His will for their lives. Only then will they have the peace this world can not give them no matter what career they choose. Now, I’m off to make a ballerina with my daughter because who knows, that might be exactly who God wants her to be!