Did I Want to Be "Just a Mom?"

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IMG_2038Growing up, for the majority of my childhood, my mom was a stay-at-home mom.  In the eyes of the women’s rights people, she was wasting her college education and her teaching credential by staying home to do laundry and bake cookies.  But really, she was using that credential and degree to teach myself and my sister.  I would assume she would agree, that she was using her education to make better people for the world.  She was hoping we would become the kind of people that would love and inspire and create and invent and pursue our dreams at whatever cost.  Growing up, people would ask me what I wanted to be, and it wasn’t until I started the Momnipotent book series, that I remembered, I would tell people I wanted to be a mom.  Sadly, that answer was met with hostility.   Their responses would include such questions as, ” You just want to be a mom?”, ” Don’t you want to “be” something?  or  “No, I meant what career do you want?”

I would like to say that their comments didn’t matter and that I stayed true to my dreams, but their opinions swayed my dreams.  I decided I needed a “real” career.  What really fulfilled me was taking care of others and being of service, but since that wasn’t “good enough” I got a Bachelors in Journalism.  My family promoted higher education and so I spent $80.000 on a Master’s in Film Production, because I didn’t know what to do with a journalism degree in the Los Angeles market, and although my college advisor warned me about just going to school for the “extra initials,” I decided it would help guide me into Journalism.  While my program was amazing, and I loved pretty much every moment of it, including my internship at the Cannes Film Festival, today I am left with a $470 a month student loan bill and no “real career” to pay that bill.

Later in life, my search for a career (and really a means to provide for myself) lead me to teaching.  If only I had listened to my mother when she told me to become a teacher years ago!  So now when I’m at a work event for my husband and people ask me, “So what do you do?” my answer is, “I’m a stay at home mom.”  And because I’m not secure in that answer, 1. because I don’t feel like I’m good at it half the time and 2, because society doesn’t consider that a “real” career, I quickly follow up my comment with “but I’m a teacher by trade.” That of course spurs conversation about where I teach, which leads me back to the part about how I don’t “work”, because I’m home with me kids. Later I’m generally asked if I’ll return to teaching when my kids go to school, I don’t plan on it, but if I answer no, they look at me like I’m crazy.  What I’ve realized is that I forgot my dream of being a mom, and since becoming a mom, I got disillusioned with the constant cleaning, laundry, cooking and thankless jobs and started to assume I was wasting my time and also losing who I “was,” and wondered if I needed to regain myself?

Recently between my MOPS group theme of “Be You Bravely” and the Momnipotent book study I’m leading for my parish’s mom’s group, I’ve began to reevaluate my dream of being a mom.  What if I stopped thinking about all the ways I’m “missing out” on a making a difference in the world, and started focusing on making a difference in my own world, inside my home?  What if I gave it my best effort?  What if I showed my kids what it means to be served and loved, as my mother showed me growing up?  In the book Momnipotent, the author Danielle Bean says “One of the casualties of our failure to acknowledge our uniquely feminine characteristics is our own happiness.”   What if I reclaimed my happiness, by serving my family?  What if we reclaimed our dignity as mothers?  What if we started our own revolution?

Copyright 2014 Courtney Vallejo 

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About Author

Courtney Vallejo is a Catholic wife and mother who lives in California. She and her husband are raising and homeschooling, their three adopted children. She holds a Master's degree in Film Production and a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. She also writes for her own blog, courtneyvallejo.com.

6 Comments

  1. Flávia Ghelardi on

    Great post! For some years now I always answer with a big smile that I´m a stay home mom (even have been a lawyer years ago). I write that also in all the forms I eventually have to fill when asked about my profession. Another way you can answer the “difficult” question about your profession is saying that your are a PhD in Child Developping and Human Relations (just a fance title for being a mom!). So, do you mind if I translate your post to Portuguese and share with my friends? Thanks!

    • Courtney Vallejo on

      Hello Flavia,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I would love if you shared the article with your friends. Thank you for sharing with us your joy in telling people you’re a stay at home mom! If you wouldn’t mind sending me the Portuguese translation, I would love to have it to share in the future. God bless!

  2. Loved this post. I gave up being a nurse to stay home with my 4 children. I have loved my time being home with them and have no regrets.
    My youngest child is now a senior in highschool and soon our “nest” will be empty. I am struggling to decide what the next phase of my life will be. My volunteer work revolved around kids activities. After 23 years my nursing skills are a little rusty. I am sad that the “job” I poured my heart and soul into is ending. I am trying to make some goals for myself but sonwtimes I wonder if it is enough. Like I said I have no regrets. I’m so glad I was able to be here for my family and able to fill in where there was a need. I hope to find some volunteer work or something flexible that will help me fill the void left after the kids leave.
    So I guess my advice would be to start now and plan for the day that eventually comes when your youngest leaves home. And hug your babies because they do grow up!

    • You probably won’t have as much free time as you think you will. My parents have six kids and 14 grandchildren and counting, and they are so busy. Who needs a babysitter? Who needs you to watch their kids while they work? Enjoy this lull. Take a class. Go on dates with your husband. Travel a little bit. Before you know it, you will be called to serve your family again.

  3. Often times I wonder if I was taught as a girl that being a mom was something you could commit your entire life to, I wouldn’t have struggled so much with settling in to being a stay-at-home mom. I don’t intend on going back to work either. I want to spend all of my time serving my family. I will spread the message to young women that it is okay to be a full-time mom so they don’t struggle with it like I did.

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