I’m Just a Mom if You’re Just a CEO

I've been thinking a lot this week about education. I want to finish my bachelor's degree, but I can't decide on a major. I also can't decide which university because it will most likely have to be completed online. That's not a big deal. I finished my associate's degree almost entirely online through the local community college. I just want to make sure it's a good program and a good fit . . . and that it doesn't steal all of my money.

This has also reminded me of the general attitude people have towards mothers pursuing degrees who are "just moms" and "aren't going to use it anyway." The sentiment has always annoyed me, but I've learned to let it roll off of my back. Mostly because I know that someone that ignorant couldn't do my job, nor do they understand what it requires.

I served an 18-month mission for my church instead of attending school during that time and had only completed a quarter of college by the time I was married. It ended up taking me eight years to finish my AA degree. Eight years and three kids later. Sure, I thought about quitting. That would have been easier. And yes, I'm fully aware that no degree is required to run my household or raise my children. But the only reason a requirement doesn't exist is because there is no employer there to pay my salary either. So I didn't quit. I kept going. I graduated with high honors because it mattered that much to me. And I'm going to tell you why.

Motherhood doesn't come with an instruction manual. There isn't a program or field of study that can adequately prepare you for it. The salary forever remains at zero. There is no health or dental insurance, no sick pay, no paid vacation, no retirement plan, no gym membership, and no union to fight your battles for you. And motherhood is hard. If any mother ever tells you it's easy, she's lying . . . either to spare your feelings or her own. So, I'm knee deep in a job that pays me nothing and that I could never be adequately trained or prepared for. And the grouchy women at the grocery store give me the evil eye when my toddler throws a tantrum mid-aisle. They look at me as if I obviously should know exactly what to do every time . . . as if I were getting paid to prevent this from happening.

About a month ago I was walking into a grocery store. I only had my two little girls with me, so relatively it was a piece of cake. A woman was coming out of the store with eight children in tow. She had two little ones in a double stroller in front of her and was pulling a cart heaped with groceries and two more little ones. An older child was helping push the cart and three more were walking alongside. I felt the need to tell her she was doing great. I'd say that I didn't know what possessed me to say it, but I believe in a God who directs His children to make each other's burdens lighter. I looked her right in the eye. She looked exhausted, almost haggard, but not unfulfilled and certainly not unhappy. My feet stopped moving. I said, "Good for you."

"What?" she said, looking confused.

"I said, 'good for you.' You're doing great. Just thought you should know."

I watched the tears well up in her eyes in two seconds flat. And it all came pouring out. "Some lady just told me I obviously had my hands way too full and that she felt bad for me. It made me feel like I was doing something wrong. Maybe I shouldn't have brought all of my kids in here after I'd taken them on a hike. Maybe it was too long of a day. But I needed groceries and I thought they were behaving relatively well....." She went on and on.

"You don't need to apologize to me. I am number two of eight children. My family life was amazing. I just felt like I should tell you that you were doing a great thing."

Silence. "Thank you so much."

"Any time."

It was an uplifting and wonderfully inspired conversation. And then I suddenly felt the need to find whoever the other woman was and give her a piece of my mind. I didn't, of course. And even if I had, she wouldn't have understood a word I was saying. Just like the people who think I'm just a mom and don't need a degree aren't going to understand what I'm saying.

Mothers have as much reason, if not more, as everyone else to receive a quality and well-rounded education. There is no program that will teach me all I need to know, but there are plenty of classes and fields that can better prepare me for the tough job I have in store. And not just a tough job, but the most important job if you want to know my true feelings on the subject. I will fight anyone who tells me that motherhood is an inferior position in this life. And I will annihilate them in that debate because I'm that certain that I'm right.

I came across a quote yesterday that firmed up my resolve to sit down and write this post. It's from S. Michael Wilcox:

There is no accomplishment which will require greater dedication, intellect, and the refined emotions of the soul than to raise a child to dignity, independence, and holiness in a decadent and fallen world.

What the mystery woman couldn't see, or refused to see, was that this mother of eight young children was doing everything she could do to raise successful adults. What kind of mother takes EIGHT children hiking . . . and then to the grocery store!? A good one. What kind of mother kills herself trying to get an education that will not only serve her well, but her children too? A good one. What kind of mother manages to finish her grocery shopping through a 30-minute screaming fit? A darn good one.

These mothers, in fact most mothers I know, are using every ounce of restraint and smarts and devotion that their souls can muster up to accomplish the task before them. Motherhood is not only a job, but a process of refinement that does as much for the mother as it does for her children. Saying we're "just moms" is about as ridiculous as declaring that so-and-so is just the CEO. He doesn't need any special training or education. As a matter of fact, you probably don't need to pay any attention to him at all. His position is inferior at best. Give the training and the resources to someone that matters more to the company. Right. It's absurd.

So can I just announce that the world, as a whole, is grossly underestimating its most powerful group of women. What happens inside the walls of these homes will do more to shape your countries and this world than anything that is happening outside of them. Respect the mothers. Support their education. Share your wisdom. Lend a helping hand. Tell them thank you. And realize that you're dealing with those who are tougher than tough, yet softer than soft. You're dealing with women who are strong and educated and refined and talented and smart. You're looking at hands that work and lift and pray. You can't possibly understand the depth of what's required or given. So give a smile or a hug or anything that will instill faith and uplift. We're more powerful than you know. Plus we're nice to look at.

24 thoughts on “I’m Just a Mom if You’re Just a CEO

  1. Holly

    Excellent. you brought tears to my eyes too. I have a BA in Interior Design and I am a Mom, and proud of it. Very well written - you captured the picture perfectly. Thank you.

    (on a sidenote...I have been hearing about the new Pathways Program to get your degree at a discount. I know a few people doing it and they like it. Sorry, I just felt inspired to pass it on. http://www.byui.edu/online/pathway)

    1. Thank you! I was actually just looking into that, but wasn't sure how it worked or how well people were liking it. Sounds like it's a positive thing. Now to decide on a major....:)

  2. Thank you for writing this.
    I haven't read your blog before. A friend posted this on Facebook.
    It was just what I needed to hear this morning.
    Thank you. 🙂

  3. Tami

    Found this on Facebook. A.MAZE.ING. What a great pick-me-up! I'm gonna go register for a class now! 🙂

  4. Maria

    An education is IMPORTANT!!! I finished my BS degree after my fourth child and loved the feeling of accomplishment. The most rewarding job though is that of a mother. I am a mommy to 7 wonderful children that teach me every day.

    Loved this!!! Thank you Bri!!!

  5. Meagan

    Thank you so much! I need to hear this on a daily basis as "just a mom" and as a "baby triathlete in training". It is tough work and getting a "thank you mama" and an "I love you" from my kids is more than enough!

  6. Jennifer R.

    Well put! I needed to hear this in a positive spin, Thanks! These are the kinds of thoughts that have been bouncing around in my own mind the past few months. People that don't have kids just don't "get it". Not all of them are ignorant, but it would sure be nice if they kept their comments to themselves! I only have 2, and I often get the "they must keep you busy" and recommendation to stop having kids after my one girl & boy, when I am at the grocery store. It's hard work, but I enjoy it. I may sneak back and read more of your blog another time!

    1. Thanks! I get SO tired of people telling me I have my hands full. I actually had someone tell me that my husband needed to get "fixed." I wish I was lying.:)

      Happy to have you here reading along any time!

  7. Yancinator

    It is bizarre to me that anyone thinks that acquiring an education is a waste if it's not a requirement for your job. Actually, bizarre isn't the word; it's idiotic.

  8. Leah

    I friend of mine shared this on Facebook and what a great thing it was for me to read as I was nursing my little one and emotionally and spiritually preparing for another Sunday. I am a stay at home mom of 6 and it is a choice. I don't regret it. I don't wish my life was different but I do wish people would get it. I wish that more mom's would give themselves and each other the respect that they deserve. I love the quote, "No success will compensate for failure in the home," It helps me prioritize. I don't think it is telling parents that you can't have other successful things in your life. I think that it is telling us to keep focused on what is truly important, our families. I know that my children are a gift for God. Knowing that does not make it easy but it helps 😉 I am offered help from strangers more often when I go out with my 3 youngest than when I have all 6. When I have all of them I get the " you must have you hands full or they must keep you busy" but if you knew me or knew my children you would wonder why don't you have more. My job right now is to love, nurture and teach these beautiful children and you are right, there is now paycheck. But for me it is worth it. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Crystal

    Hey Bri, I just wanted to let you know that I have thought of this post often since you first posted it. I love it. It has truly stuck with me, and I think changed me a little bit. I've often seen moms struggling, but never said anything. Well, I've started saying things. And not just to moms. I've been trying to let people know when they're doing a good job, working hard, whatever. I hope they know I'm being sincere and I hope it touches them I some way. Thanks for the inspiration to spread a little cheer, happiness, I dunno, something.


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