Savage is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts
at Home, an organization designed to encourage, educate,
and equip women in the profession of motherhood.
Hearts at Home
The Profession of Motherhood
CBN.com With Labor Day just weeks away, I believe we need to celebrate a job that is often forgotten in the paid workforce. This job is such an integral part of the fabric of the family, not to mention our community, our country and our world. To what profession am I referring? Motherhood, the job that’s rarely considered a real job.
I’ve been a mother for twenty-two years. Two years into motherhood, I switched my career from teaching to being a full-time mom. It wasn’t an easy transition, though. I worried that I was throwing away my education. I fretted about losing experience in my field. I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to make it financially. But God showed me otherwise.
What I learned is that a career or profession is a job that we commit ourselves to for a season of time. Often it is an occupation we take so seriously that we have sought special training to become the best we can at it. When we think about the concept of a profession, we are identifying a job that we feel is important enough for our time and our energy. It is also a job that enriches our lives in some shape or form. The profession of motherhood certainly meets all of these definitions.
Personally, I’d like to raise the value of motherhood to a higher level in everyone’s mind. I’d like us to consider it a valid career choice. I’d like us to call it what it is—a profession. And I’d like those of us working as full-time mothers to think of ourselves as what we are—professionals! A woman who leaves the paid workforce to become a full-time mother is not throwing away her degree or experience. She is embarking on a positive and exciting career move!
To send children into adulthood who are morally responsible and emotionally mature takes an incredible amount of time and energy. It takes intelligence and skill. To run all the activities of a typical family requires an ability to manage resources of time, money, and energy. We must not devalue the responsibilities of caring for a family. We need to take this job seriously. The profession of motherhood allows a woman to devote her time, skills, education, and experience to the nurturing of her family. In today’s fast-paced, overextended, often-exhausted family lifestyle, more families are recognizing the value of motherhood as a profession.
I've often had people comment that they sure do wish they had the luxury of staying home with their children. A luxury? We could never describe my commitment to be home a luxury—sacrifice would better portray the picture.
We’ve lived on generic foods, done without cable television, and driven old cars to allow me to stay home. Our children don’t attend extension classes at the local university, because we can’t afford them. The only name brand clothing they wear is what we stumble upon at the local secondhand store.
We’ve chosen what is often a financially challenging way of life. However, it’s not impossible. And, we are not the only ones making these decisions. Did you know that there are over 7.7 million families in the United States that live on one income? For many of these families it is not a luxury, but a sacrifice they are willing to make.
Bill Flick, a newspaper columnist, questions the concept of the "high cost of living." He says it's more like "the high cost of the way we choose to live." The concept of "keeping up with the Jones'" affects us whether we realize it or not. When it comes to purchases we need to ask ourselves, "Do we really need this or do we want it?"
Financially, being committed to the profession of motherhood may require the practice of delayed gratification. Delaying some of the things we would like to have now in exchange for doing something we need to do now is what it is all about. As much as I'd like to have new furniture in just one room of our home, and my husband would love to have cable television, we choose to forgo those in exchange for me being able to be home with our children. Delayed gratification is a concept that we don't hear much about today, but one we can learn to embrace.
At the same time, there are certainly some circumstances where there is no choice in the matter. Single mothers and families with extenuating financial struggles face very real challenges. But we do need to ask ourselves--is it really about the high cost of living or the high cost of the way we choose to live?
Being at home can be a challenge, however. A woman committed to the profession of motherhood needs to learn how to survive and thrive at home. If you are at home or thinking about coming home, consider these tips from moms in the trenches:
*Take care of yourself. No one will give you breaks or days off. You’ll have to create your own benefits package by arranging childcare occasionally to give yourself time to regroup and find refreshment.
*Attend a Hearts at Home conference. These conferences are designed to encourage and equip women in the profession of motherhood. Conferences are held in Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, and California. (Check out www.hearts-at-home.org for conference information.)
*Change your goals. Children are notorious for undoing whatever you have done. If you are questioning what you are accomplishing everyday you are looking at the wrong measuring stick. Accomplishment in the profession of motherhood is determined by one very long-term goal: raising a responsible, respectful adult. Keep that goal in front of you all the time!
*Learn to network. Mothers at home face the challenges of isolation unless they purposefully network with other moms. Check out local moms groups, library story hour, and even the McDonald’s playland where you can chat with other moms who share your commitment to motherhood. If you have a preschooler, check out www.mops.org to see if there is a Mothers of Preschoolers group in your area.
*Cancel the cable television.
*Eat out less.
*When eating out, share meals. (Make sure and tip the wait staff the estimated percentage of two purchased meals!)
*Plan meals and shop less often. (With the exception of running to the store for bread, milk, and fresh fruits and vegetables, I shop only once a month. This keeps temptation at a minimum.)
*Give homemade gifts rather than purchased gifts. (Fresh baked goods are always a hit!)
*Make dates with your spouse simple: a walk in the park, a drive in the country, a bike ride to the ice cream shop to share a root beer float--complete with two straws!
With one daughter married, another son out on his own, two teenagers, and one pre-teen, I’m here to tell you that your children grow up faster than you can imagine. Before you know it your child has moved from a Happy Meal to Value Meal #9! And the truth is that we can only raise our kids once—we can’t go back and do it again. The profession of motherhood allows you to maximize a season of time that is only presented once in a lifetime.
Let’s hear it for motherhood: one of the best jobs in the world!
Jill Savage (www.jillsavage.org)
is the founder and Executive Director of Hearts at Home (www.hearts-at-home.org),
an organization designed to encourage, educate, and equip women in the
profession of motherhood. She is the author of five books including Professionalizing Motherhood, Is There Really Sex After Kids?, and her
newest release My Heart’s At Home. Jill and her husband, Mark,
have five children and make their home in Central Illinois.
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