Overqualified?

Am I overqualified to be just a momPhoto Credit: Mindy Rainey Creative

Because I had four children in 6 years, a great deal of my life for many years has revolved around poopy diapers. I’m going to be honest—some days, I think that I’m pretty overqualified for this lowly, menial task: “Did I really need a BA for this? I had diaper changes down when I was babysitting at age 11!” Or as another friend (with a PhD) lamented, “Some days I feel like a really overqualified housekeeper!” Maybe you’ve even gotten comments like I have, “You went to college even though you’ve always known you want to be a stay-at-home mom? That’s…interesting.” You don’t have to have babysat since age 11 or have a PhD to feel this way, right? Whatever level of education or expertise or accomplishment we’ve reached, there are aspects of parenting for which we are “overqualified.”

Thank goodness! Because if you’re like me, there are even more aspects of parenting for which you feel underqualified at times. When my preschooler asks me a series of theological questions to which I don’t know the answers, I feel unprepared. When I’ve had three heart-to-heart conversations with a six year old about caring for his sisters, and he goes and shoves someone again for getting into his legos, I wonder if I just don’t have what it takes to reach his heart. When my two year old is throwing a tantrum while I’m trying to check out of the grocery store, I feel helpless. Every time we added a new baby into the mix, I suddenly felt that I didn’t have enough hands to go around!

I’ve literally had people ask me if I get bored “just being home” all day, as if just being home isn’t constantly stretching and challenging me and forcing me to my knees! I always reply, “With four kids, there’s never a dull moment!” And I try to add, “We have a lot of fun!

When I connected the “overqualified” and “underqualified” parts of my day, it helped me see the diaper changes and dishwashing as breathing spells in the long uphill sprint of daily life at our house.

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5 Responses to Overqualified?

  1. Eleni Glader says:

    Hi Emily, I really like your post. I am glad you enjoyed mine too (I am the Shameless Stay-at-Home Mother). This is how I see it–at work even at a director’s level with 2 master’s degrees, I found myself cleaning up after meetings in the board room, printing name tags, licking a pile of envelopes, ordering bagels… I don’t mind pitching in, but at times it felt excessive and because I had to do these tasks often for my dept. some colleagues who saw them as menial did not treat me with respect and tried to take advantage. So when I am doing dishes and scrubbing the toilet I look back on those days and feel so blessed to be doing my family and for our home–for people who appreciate it. There is no one qualified enough to take care of your children other than you or your husband. Who is going to talk to them about Mars’ two moons? Who is going to turn a tea party into an arithmetic lesson? You want to be there for your children’s milestones not someone else. You want to impart your values on them not someone else’s–even when you feel like your talks are not being heard–they are. It takes time. And I doubt you feed them chicken nuggets and lollipops. Your chocolate chip pancakes look amazing by the way. I do not think the nanny you would have to hire would have it in her to feed your children the way you do day in and day out.

    • Emily says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Eleni! I love how your post emphasized how much MORE creative/challenged/etc you get to be at home with your kiddo!

  2. Catherine says:

    “When I connected the “overqualified” and “underqualified” parts of my day, it helped me see the diaper changes and dishwashing as breathing spells in the long uphill sprint of daily life at our house.”

    This is a great way to look at it!

  3. Donna Johnson says:

    I’m an ETS stalker, almost always noticing the topics of the new posts and sometimes taking a closer look. Occasionally I think I have something to add, but usually decide to stay out of it, because you all are doing just fine without an old lady chiming in :o)
    The “Overqualified” post definitely captured my interest. Following college and marriage I worked for ten years and added a second degree. After Mariel was born, I was a mom-at-home for 20+ years. That was the most difficult and also the most rewarding work I ever did, and I only would have gone back to working outside our home if I had had to for some reason.
    At present I’m sorting through picture albums and books at the same time. I still own two books written in the ’80s and ’90s that supported my mom-at-home career choice: 1) What’s a Smart Woman Like You Doing In a Place Like This? Homemaking on Purpose by Dr. Mary Ann Froehlich and, 2) Home by Choice: Creating Emotional Security in Children by Brenda Hunter, Ph.D. I’m not suggesting that you read these books; the only thing they might add to what you know intuitively is research support which I’m sure has been added to by this time.
    My evidence is based on now being ten years on the other side of having children in our home. There is no longer a need for me to be ETS on an every day basis, but I can tell you that our family is still everything to us; the investment of being a mom at home establishes an incredible base for an adult relationship with your children. All the shared experiences, values, and books just cannot happen in the quality time scenario. At present two things have brought this home to me: 1) seeing every picture we took while our girls were growing up thereby reliving all the things we did and places we went together, and 2) preparing a shared presentation that Elsa and I will be doing together at the Charlotte Mason International Education Conference coming up at Asbury Seminary next week. Our talk is about how books we read aloud together influenced their courting, love, relationship, and marriage choices. In the course of preparing the presentation, it clearly came to light that home life, biblical teaching, and examples of family and friends influence life decisions. Along with the writings of Austen, Tolstoy, Hardy, etc.
    Some final brief comments: 1) That we have wonderful children and grandchildren and good relationships with them is absolutely attributable only to God’s grace. 2) Problems in families can happen no matter what a parent does; we live in a fallen world. 3) Lots of moms would love to be at home and honestly do not have that choice (and some make the choice to work outside their home); this will not prevent them from being good parents and having good kids. And finally, 4) there will be life after children.

    • Emily says:

      Donna, thanks, as always for commenting! I often use you as an example of how the choice to stay at home for 20ish years doesn’t have to stifle our interests, education, and career path. We always value your thoughts on the topic of motherhood, and your last four points are very true, too. It’s easy to fall into the mindset that if we just do X, Y, and Z, our kids will turn out. I’ve been increasingly convicted this summer to just be praying for my kids more. I do try to do what is best for them and to follow Biblical principles in parenting (and to read them great books!), but they all have free will. There are no guarantees, and that is humbling for me!

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