This article was written by Kate (Yoder '07) Bedinghaus and Heather (Bayly '98) Ummel for the most recent edition of the Taylor University magazine.
Fill in the blank: More Taylor grads work as ________________ than in any other vocation.
Answer: It's a trick question. We didn't do a statistical survey, but we're willing to bet the answer is mothers.
As young women at Taylor, our minds were consumed with endless tests, friendships, wing events, and cute boys. There were deeper spiritual questions to ponder. There were decisions about the future to be made. These thoughts left little room for the seemingly faraway possibility of motherhood. The idea of children was filed away under "Someday," after mission work, world travel, and a rewarding career...
For some of us, years passed, some dreams were realized, and suddenly motherhood arrived— ready or not. The calling of motherhood was upon us and we had a choice: would we continue in our careers or would we choose to stay home and give our lives over to this needy child? We felt unprepared—scared, even—to care for this little one, much less raise him in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Taylor offers no degree in motherhood, and frankly, no one ever really is ready. But motherhood is a blessing God has bestowed on many of us, whether biologically or through adoption. Many of us then chose to ignore the world's conventional wisdom and sacrifice our careers—partially or completely—to the honorable calling of motherhood.
The world around us will never applaud this choice. It was already deriding the career path of motherhood in the day of G.K. Chesterton. Be encouraged by his response to such a view:
[A woman is] surrounded... with very young children, who require to be taught not so much anything as everything. Babies need... to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, [a mother] is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren't... Now if anyone says that this duty... is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view... But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question... How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.
From What's Wrong with the World by G.K. Chesterton
We're rarely encouraged to sacrifice our career and become a mother, and it's easy to doubt the value of wiping noses when we read about alumni awards honoring others for Important Kingdom Work. It's easy to crave validation from others when our work is not apparent in the public sphere. We are the invisible graduates.
If we aren't using our degree in a conventional manner, does this negate its value? No. Our Savior, husbands and children know exactly how we serve. The best thing Taylor did to prepare us for motherhood was to teach us to be a servant. The servant's towel we received at graduation is not an empty symbol for a mother. It represents stretch marks, sleepless nights, and endless self-sacrifice. It stands for wiping away tears, cleaning skinned knees, and laughing at silly jokes.
Motherhood fits perfectly into Taylor's mission statement: "to develop servant leaders marked with a passion to minister Christ's redemptive love and truth to a world in need." Is there any greater mission field for us than our own homes and children? Mothers don't have to travel to Africa to teach the gospel—many little ears are waiting right at our feet. Our children desperately need to hear the truth of the gospel every time they sin, every time we sin in front of them, and every time they have questions about the world around them. This is the good work God has prepared for us. When we look at staying home with children from this perspective we can clearly see the great work set before us and the faith and joy it requires.
You might agree that motherhood is good work yet wonder, "How can I continue on this journey? I am tired. I feel isolated and invisible. No one around me sees motherhood that way." Who understands motherhood better than other mothers? Remember something else you learned at Taylor—the importance of intentional community. Should that stop when you graduate? Isolation as a mother—especially if you stay home—might be one of our greatest challenges, but it's also one of our greatest opportunities.
Isolation becomes an opportunity when we step out in faith and reach out to other mothers. You are not alone. We guarantee there is another Taylor mom, a neighbor, or a woman from your church struggling in the same areas. Now is the time to learn, grow, and share experiences. Motherhood itself is your bond with other mothers, whether they are beside you on a park bench or on the other side of the world.
There are many ways to reach out. You could start an email group with other moms. Even better, step out and join a moms group. Be vulnerable about mistakes you make. Childrearing is messy and humbling work, nothing like those picture-perfect mommy blogs. We need the kind of community that will come alongside us and hold up our arms when we are weary We need the gospel as much as our children do. If you need someone to walk alongside you in the journey, the mom next door does too. Thank God for His many blessings and freely share what He has given you—both in your home and in your community.