Mom, Your Degree and Career Are Worth Every $.

Before I had children, I’d write the monthly check to pay my college loans and I’d wonder if I’d ever get my money’s worth out of my college education.

Then, as I was transitioning from my career as a teacher to a homeschooling mother, I worried that the skills I developed in my career would atrophy and my hard work would fade into meaninglessness.

It took me several years to adjust from a lifestyle of measurable, consistent achievement to a more amorphous existence. It took me just as long to bid farewell to my love of a paycheck, pats on the back, and public appreciation. But, those appetites faded over time as other ones grew. I came to love the ongoing pleasure of seeing my dearest humans grow centimeter by centimeter, discovery by discovery. I began to love the freedom of creating the rhythms of our days, of feeling satisfied with relationships instead of output.

I like how I’ve become more human, really.

And yet those questions about getting my money’s worth and keeping my skill-set still lingered in my mind.

Until things like this started happening…

When our firstborn was 2 years old, she said she wanted to be a nurse. Not “become a nurse someday“, but to be one, now. Pronto. She wanted to introduced herself with, “I’m a 2-year old nurse.” And she was. She’d notice the slightest cut on anyone’s hand and ask about it. She mastered the application of Dora Bandaids by the time she was 3 1/2 years old.

I could tell that God had given us a child who would love the sciences. This helped me to see two useful things: that our daughter would love – and need – scientific instruction asap. What a thrill to access all of the things I learned earning my B.S. in Biology. When she was 4, I taught her how to set up an experiment with a control and a variable. We looked at things from the inside-out, and when she had complex questions about cells, energy, or heart chambers, I knew where to begin.

Now that she’s 11 years old with countless other interests, and followed by siblings who are miniature mathematicians, readers, musicians, writers, administrators, athletes, you name it, I can confidently report that every dollar and all of the hard work I invested in my college degrees (a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a M.A. in English Literature) has been worth it.

My higher education shaped me and my creative work as a mother. It provides the wealth of ideas, skills, and know-how that I give to my children every day. Because of what I learned in college, grad school, and my career, I introduce my children to literary themes from their earliest memory of conversation. I teach them how to speak from the heart, choose good books, read carefully, listen for details, and write persuasively and gracefully. I teach them how to work hard and ask good questions.

I never could have guessed that my education and career would be so valuable.

I certainly wouldn’t have guessed it would find its greatest value in my children, through motherhood.

Though I haven’t earned the dollars back literally, I confidently consider them well invested.

It is a great joy in my life.

Now I can see that we don’t go to college and build careers for money or promotion alone. If that’s the extent of our motivation, it will trap us. We go to college and build careers for insight and skills that we may use to love and serve people, as God allows.

Do you ever struggle to justify the financial and time investment of higher education and career with motherhood?

This may help: Today, take some time to jot down 10 ways in which your education and career have enriched you with content, perspectives, and skills that you could pass along to your child. What are your child’s dreams and ambitions? Look for ways that your unique education and skill set complements your child. As you begin to enrich the miniature scientists and artists around your kitchen table, you’ll get such a kick out of the way God has lavishly prepared you for motherhood.

It’ll be worth every dollar.



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4 responses to “Mom, Your Degree and Career Are Worth Every $.”

  1. Tricia Avatar

    Love this, Laura!

    As I’ve transitioned from a social worker in a medical setting to a stay at home mama and mamapreneur, I’ve realized how much my social work degree and experience is helping me with my kids, starting a business, and even my marriage.

    In addition, my work in dialysis gave me the knowledge and connections to help my dad get the help he needed when his labs were showing early stages of kidney disease.

    God is so good!

  2. Laura Avatar

    Oh, isn’t that amazing? I can only imagine how helpful a social work degree would be in managing a home and raising children! You’re right, God is so good to have prepared you in advance for the good work you would do, even in your father’s life. I’m so glad you chimed in, Tricia.

  3. Jenn M Avatar
    Jenn M

    I love this!
    Even when I was in school (with plans to stay home with my family), I had to defend my education. I had one guy ask me, “if all you want to do is stay home with a family, you should just drop out of college.” Not an option. Learning was too fun! And besides, I had no husband, or boyfriend at that point and I had to plan on a career.
    I didn’t end up dating my husband until after I graduated from grad school. By that point I was highly educated and working in agricultural research. Yet, it was still my plan to stay home with my family when the time came…which was a surprise to my future husband as he had only known educated women who worked. I left my job two weeks before my oldest son was born, and never went back (even though it was the best job I ever had up to that point).
    I tell people now that education is never “wasted” on a mom. Not only did I get amazing life experiences and learn a ton, I can pass on the love of learning to my children and can also converse with my engineer husband on a technical level. At home I am educating the future leaders of tomorrow. Wouldn’t anyone want a teacher with the highest education possible for that?! 🙂
    Funny thing, I actually have a job offer for when the boys’ education is done if/when I enter the ‘paid’ workforce again, and it is based on the education I have gotten since becoming a mom.

  4. Laura Avatar

    Jenn, that is so interesting. I love that you recognized the value of your education from the start. And, I especially love the part about your job offer! That is saying a lot. I’m sure that the skills you’ve developed as a mother have equipped you to do far more than you ever dreamed. Sometimes I think that even though I haven’t gotten my degree in business, I could confidently apply for a job in management, and succeed because of the skills I’ve acquired as a mom. Who would have thought? Thanks for sharing your story. It put wind in my sails.

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