March 10, 2004

Staying at Home as a Career

I just finished watching Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst and Julie Stiles. I enjoyed the film far more than I suspected I would. Not being one to blog about film reviews - I will make an exception. One particular part of the film really struck a chord with me. One student (played by Stiles) has been accepted to Yale Law school in the 1950's and she decides to get married instead and leave law school behind. Roberts (who plays her professor) is critical of the decision - fearing that Stiles is giving up her future for a man. Stiles does a nice job acting out the response to this with integrity. She stands up for the decision to stay at home and be a wife and mother. She stands up for the decision to want to raise your family and be there for them. She stands up for woman who choose to be housewives and stands against the stereotypes so many others have of them.

It reminded me of the time when I had to make my own tough decision and the criticism I received for it. I chose to stay home with my kids. I have a Masters degree and was the top student in my year. I could have easily found a job and started a promising career. I could have continued in nearly any PhD program I wanted - but I chose to stay at home and raise my family. Serona and I felt committed to having a parent at home to raise our children and so far we have been able to do that. Thankfully it has been me, I have been blessed with the opportunity to raise my children at home.

Some people thought I was wasting my talent and education. Others thought I would regret my decision. Still others thought I was making an unnecessary sacrifice. I was doing none of the above. I made a decision that was the best I could ever have made and my whole family will reap the benefits of it. I love being a stay at home mother, I love being here for each moment of my children's life and I love the life I live.

I use my education and talents nearly every day. I believe I am using it to a far greater end than I ever could working in a career (though I still feel I have a very important and special career). This movie and the passionate response Stiles gives reminds me of my choices and how firmly I believe in them.

I understand that many people make different choices and that is fine - their life their choice. I just want the same respect for my decisions. Over the years many of those same people who were critical have seen that I made a good choice for me and my family and that we are happy this way. Some just dismissed me when I made my choice, their loss. I am doing what I intended to do. I am raising my family, I volunteer and I use my talents and abilities to help my community and those around me. I am learning something new every day and teaching my children new things all the time. I am there for my friends and my new "colleagues". I have learned that you can not make sweeping judgments about people, because they always surprise you. I get very frustrated when assumptions are made about me because I am a stay at home mom, even more when they discover I am homeschooling.

The moment in this movie was a refreshing reminder and a nice change from the way the plot was heading. There is value in some of the things we are constantly challenging and people need to be able to think and chose for themselves and we need to respect that as well. I am for progress but I am also for tradition and we do not need to leave one behind for the sake of the other.


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