Ask Me: “Should I go to grad school if I want to be a mom one day?”

should-i-go-to-grad-school-if-i-hope-to-be-a-mom-one-day-2

Dear Bronwyn,

I finished college and have been working for a few years. I love my job, and pursuing graduate school feels like the logical next step for me and had been a part of my original plan. Yet I strongly feel that if I have children, I want to raise them. My question is this: is it wise to continue to go to school and invest time and money in advancing one’s career if one’s eventual hope is to be a mom? Advancement may make scaling back hours or taking a few years to raise children difficult, and taking time off to raise kids may result in slacked skills/practice upon re-entry into the working world.

There’s a second part to my question: if one isn’t even dating anyone and not currently bearing children, is it wise to make decisions on something that may never happen? I feel that we as women are not supposed to sit back and twiddle our thumbs until/if we get married, yet there is a reality to consequences from decisions made.

Do you have any thoughts?

Sera Sera

Dear Sera Sera,

As the old song goes: “Que Sera Sera; whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see.” That’s all fine and well, but the question remains: so, if I don’t know the future, what should I do now?

My advice: make the best decision you know now based on the information you have now. We don’t know what we don’t know, and when we do know better/more, we can adjust accordingly. Or, to put it in Christian parlance: be faithful with the opportunities and talents you have now, and entrust the future to God.

It sounds like God has given you the ability and resources to serve him and others in your career, and if you have a desire to pursue that more, I want to encourage you to pay attention to those desires. Jen Michel’s book Teach Us To Want is so helpful in this, as it teases out what life and ambition in the life of faith could look like. For us to learn how to name and ask for what we want—acknowledging that our interests and longings and skills are part of who God created us to be—and to prayerfully and faithfully pursue those while simultaneously holding outcomes with an open hand (“thy will be done”), is a mark of deep maturity in faith. If you feel a calling to specific, further training in your profession; I’d encourage you to press into that and see where it goes.

The second part of your question has to do with the bigger issue of whether (and how much) to pursue a career if you hope to be a full-time, or most-of-the-time mom, in the future. To this end, I want to highly recommend Katelyn Beaty’s book A Woman’s Place: A Christian Vision for Your Calling in the Office, the Home, and the WorldBeaty spells out that as image bearers of God, women are called to be flourishing culture-makers alongside men. That deep need we feel to make an impact for good on the world is part of the way God has wired us, and the hundreds of women (including homemakers) she interviewed bore out what my testimony is, too: staying at home to raise children can be exhausting and fill every second of every minute of every day… and yet somehow we still feel we were “made for more” influence than just the walls of our home.

So… all of that to say, I would want to encourage you to think about the fact that even if The Guy walks into your life right now—the one whom you will relate to face-to-face, and then also side-by-side in service of the Kingdom— and even if you have a whirlwind wedding and a baby within a year (go ahead, snicker. But these things happen)… I’m betting that the longing you have for developing your passions and serving in your area of training and gifting is not going to magically vaporize should you become a Mother. Even as a Mom, you will still be you, and you will long to make a difference and you will still be interested in the things that interested you before… and the task then will be figuring out how to pace your interests and responsibilities for each season of life.

So I want to encourage you to take the next steps to living out your calling as you have opportunity now, whether that be taking a career risk and trying something new, or pursuing grad school, or whatever. Sitting around and waiting feels a lot like the servant who buried his talents to me. My one caveat would be this: if taking this next step involves such a huge financial commitment (like medical school, for example, which is not only a commitment to 6 or so years, but a further commitment of 10 years at least to pay off the debt that most people incur!), take more serious counsel. That’s a BIG commitment, and not one you could walk away from 2 to 3 years down the line. But if the opportunities before you have a much shorter commitment in both time and money, then maybe consider that this might be God nudging you to be and serve just as He intended you to be.

Oh, and one more thing: just a reminder that even in the absence of an exclusive dating relationship with marriage potential, all of us are always called to a life of increasingly deep, intimate, loving and others-centered relationships with the people around us. No matter whether you study or stay or marry or move… committing to loving those around you better and growing in depth of relationship is something you will never regret.

All the best,

Bronwyn

 

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7 thoughts on “Ask Me: “Should I go to grad school if I want to be a mom one day?”

  1. One of my law school classmates was a single mother. She met another student and they fell in love. Then they married. Then they had a baby together. Then they graduated law school.

    All to say, I think it can be done.

  2. I agree with your advice, Bronwyn, to make the best decision you can with the information you know now. I’d like to add that there are so many unexpected circumstances in life that make planning for stay-at-home motherhood uncertain: some never marry; some marry, but are unable to have children; and some mothers divorce and become single-income households. One’s spouse can die, be incapacitated by illness, or struggle with employment. As someone who never intended to be a working mother, I think it’s really important that women are prepared and skilled for gainful employment when necessity arises.

    • Anna comment is very true, in my dreams aspirations I wanted many children, to do amazing our door sporty things with. Thus thought I would be married with kids by 24 and able to fund this lifestyle on one income!!! this was before I finished school (18). In real life only married at almost 28 kids at 31 and 36. Worked almost full time hours till 36. And these are miracle kids as told at 21 not likely to have kids. Work gave me sanity and friendships for many years and I could honour God through this. I think studying further improves your mind and never wasted as parenting requires skills you never knew you needed. But I do think you need to think about these points – will the studying improve my earning potential and be worth the costs if money been hard to obtain. be a career that could be done part time or from home or long shifts like nursing so you only work 3-4 days a week or nights, easy to keep up to date with if I have a break, able to work anywhere like in a small village or does it need to financial district?

    • Totally agree, Anna. Life is surprising and it would be a very privileged life to be able to choose to stay home and live on one income (that isn’t yours) until retirement.

  3. I wanted to chime in since I was in your exact shoes almost 5 years ago. I remember asking the exact same question right before grad school. I was engaged at that time and really wanted to pursue my chosen career (which required a master’s degree), but did not want attaining a higher education to impede on time at home with kids, should I prefer that in the future.

    Long story short, I ended up pursuing a graduate degree with a 5-year plan in mind. God had other however, and my husband and I found out we were pregnant only a couple months into marriage. This prolonged everything, including grad school (which I had to extend by a year) AND made it increasingly difficult to pay back loans (which we are still doing). However, despite all the twists and turns, I am so grateful I pursued my degree. A few things wise friends & mentors said that helped me make my decision:

    1) You will probably never have more energy, time or momentum than you do right now. If this degree is something you want to pursue, now is the best time to do it because chances of you doing it later in life only decrease as marriage & children come into the picture.

    2) Depending on what your family life looks like in the future or what your husband does, it could be very helpful for you to have a supplemental income if necessary. In my situation, my degree landed me in a profession where I can get a job anywhere and also pays well (I’m in healthcare). My husband is in full-time vocational ministry, so this gives him the freedom & flexibility to pursue options he’s more passionate about and even options that are more missional and financially risky since I have a career.

    3) My master’s degree gave me a lot more flexibility with the hours I want to work and also a financial boost so that I can work a fairly small amount to help support us. I currently have two kiddo’s and am only scheduled to work 2 days a week. I love it because I spend the majority of my time at home, but I still get some time to continue pursuing a career I love.

    Anyway, just wanted to share my story 🙂 I believe any decision you make, God can & will use for His glory. Blessings to you 🙂

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