Why I wish I had gone to College

Every morning, I get up and make breakfast for the family. We have potty breaks and diaper changes all around, and I negotiate outfits with toddlers. When everyone is dressed, I try to change out of my pajamas too. I spend the day corralling kids, nursing babies, reading them books and occasionally pulling out a messy project for them to try. I do the laundry and wash the dishes (most days anyways). I might read a book of my own in little snatches throughout the day, and if I’m lucky I might get a shot at a shower when my husband is home to watch the little kids.

Sounds like the life of any stay-at-home-mom, right? Except I’ve been doing it for 16 years, and I’m only in my mid-twenties.

Before my life as a wife and mother, I was a stay-at-home daughter. As part of the Quiverfull / Patriarchy movement, my parents believed that my place as a female was to be a keeper-at-home, a “helpmeet” for my husband, and a homeschooling mother to many children. To best prepare me for this God-ordained role, I started helping out at home from an early age. By the time I was in my early teens there was no aspect of child-care or housework I was not capable of.

While my parent didn’t subscribe to any one group, they were heavily influenced by organizations like ATI/IBLP and Vision Forum. My Dad got “Patriarch” and “Quit you like men” magazines. My mom got “Above Rubies” and “Gentle Spirit” and I read them both. We got the Vision Forum Catalog every month, and purchased many of their materials. I remember my mom being sad that they could not afford to buy more. I read the entire Elsie Dinsmore series, and Mildred Keith series. I read books on parent guided courtship and male headship authority. And I read books on “beautiful,” “authentic” girlhood. All of these books taught that the world was a very dangerous place for a woman. God had designed her to be at home, creating a peaceful haven for her husband and children. The books said that any girl who left her father’s protection and went out into the world to get an education or job would end up sad and alone, because she was not living the life God willed for her.

God wanted us to dare to live differently. His plan for women involved getting back to the family principles the home was founded on. Girls needed to be brought up knowing instinctively how to care for babies and keep house. They needed to be taught to be quiet, submissive, and modest and pure. The only way to do this, was to keep separate from the world. So my parent homeschooled and kept me from doing much of anything outside of our family circle, so that I would never get used to experiences outside the home, and I would learn to be content in my homemaking role.

It sounded so romantic when I was ages 10-13. I was going to be amazing someday! My husband was going to be pleased that I was so good at caring for children and keeping house. I was practicing submission to my father, taking it very seriously whenever he pointed out some behaviour of mine that “would infuriate my husband someday.” He knew what God wanted, and what men wanted. If I wanted to be successful and happy someday, I had to start by pleasing my Daddy.

I put my whole self into my role as a stay-at-home daughter. I loved studying, but I couldn’t keep up with my self-taught high school materials and get all of my work done, so I gradually fell further and further behind. But school wasn’t as important as pleasing God. Sometimes I wished that I had the chance to study more than just cooking, cleaning and sewing, and I did ask my parents if I could take some classes while living at home, but I was reminded that it would only be a waste of time and money to go to college when none of that education would apply in the home. A college atmosphere could take my focus off the Lord, and fill my head with thoughts of career and rebellion. After some begging on my part, Dad said he would permit me to take a few online courses from a very conservative school if I insisted, but it was clear that this was not what he felt was wise. He also said that I had to finish all my high school material first, and that my school work could in no way interfere with my household duties. I was so overwhelmed at the thought of trying to keep both my father and a school happy, that I gave up on the idea of further education.

After a parent guided and approved courtship, I got married. I had never done anything outside of the home, so I was a stay-at-home wife for that first year and a half as we struggled to make it on our own. Money was very tight, and I often wondered what it would be like if I had the qualifications to get a decent job and let my husband focus on his graduate studies. But the shame my husband and I had over gender roles was overwhelming. We believed that work was part of Adams curse, and if a husband was lazy enough to make his wife get a job, she would now be burdened with both her own curse of childbearing and the curse of Adam as well. So I piddled around the empty apartment. I cleaned, watched TV and did some crafts, and tried to care for my exhausted husband the few hours he was around after school and work.

Money was so tight at one point that I actually went out and asked if the fast food place was hiring, I felt like I was shoplifting or something as I drove home with the job application. After filling in my name and address, I literally had nothing else to put on my resume. I had no schools to list, no work experience outside the home, and it felt silly to write “stay-at-home mom” in the career box, since I had no children. I had miscarried my first 2 pregnancies, and I was so afraid that I would never be able to have children. My role as a woman would be severely constricted if I did not have children. Other than caring for them, the only other thing I was free to do would be to help my husband in his work, and that was limited since I could not write sermons for him. I remember crying, and praying to God again and again to give me children. We hadn’t even been married a year, but I was a failure as a woman and wife. I had tried to do everything right, but somehow I must have disappointed God, since he was not blessing my womb. I felt like such a burden on my husband, if only I was able to take some of the work off his shoulders by earning some money. Instead I was stuck cleaning the already clean house and cooking my husband meals that he ate when he got home late at night.

Finally, our third pregnancy was viable, and baby Ms. Action was born. Ms. Drama arrived 14 months later. I was busy now, taking care of the home and the babies. But instead of feeling excitement to be a mom, I found myself on autopilot. I loved my husband and my children, but I had been doing the same thing for so long. I had no idea who I was or what I liked. My parents had taught me that being an individual and being a mom are incompatible. Being a wife and mother, and doing pretty much anything else, could not work together in their minds. So I was raised to be a machine, my mind was not important, it was what my body could do that counted. I was objectified. Exactly what Vision Forum claimed they were fighting against.

I believed the “Beautiful Girlhood” spiel. I did it everything the “right way”. I stayed at home, I submitted to my father, I skipped college, I prepared to be my husband’s helpmeet, and I regret it. I had years of my life go by where I was little more than an indentured servant to my parents. My husband and I were forced into thousands of dollars of debt working for an abusive employer that we could have thumbed our nose at if I had been able to get a job. While I was without the commitments of marriage and children, I could have easily gained an education that could have served me and my husband well in early marriage. All those years living as a quiet submissive housekeeper, I could have been discovering interests, and developing as a person.

I wish that my parents could have seen my potential and honoured my dreams and goals enough to encourage me to develop them for myself. Instead they saw how I could serve them, and kept me from growing up as long as they could, setting my starting point far behind the average woman out there. I wish that I had been able to live my life in natural stages of childhood, adulthood, and motherhood. I have so much more peace in my current life as a stay at home mom now that I realize it’s not going to last forever like I was told it would. In the meantime I am finding that I’m not as helpless or ignorant as always believed. I’m hoping to get an education someday. It won’t be as easy now as it could have been then, but I have to start somewhere. My husband and I work as a partnership now, and my hope is that someday we will be able to equally share the work needed to support us, as well as time with our children. I’m learning what it means to have a dream, and I’m a better person for it. Sometimes I am still frustrated that given all the twists and turns life can have, my husband got stuck with someone who is basically another dependent. Financially, I am unable to offer much more than encouragement and maybe a night-shift minimum wage job. I have my parents to thank for that.

This post was written on request for and will be cross-posted at ReThinking Vision Forum, a resource blog for people thinking about or recovering from the fallacies of Vision Forum’s guide for “Godly” Family Living

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01659200420621854710 Maggie

    I loved my college experience, but the crushing debt it has left me and my husband is crippling. I sometimes wish I HADN'T gone to college. Especially since I feel like I'm wasting my degree. It's an issue I have to work out, I suppose.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03792937108732259684 priest’s wife

    I feel for you!

    My day is a lot like yours- except for the fact that I homeschool 4 kids 12 to 2- so the age spread is pretty big.

    I consider myself a stay at home mom even though I teach college 10 hours a week. I got my Bachelor's before marriage and my Master's during. My mom never worked and her other 3 daughters- all with college degrees- don't work outside the home at all- so I feel a bit like a rebel with my part-time job

    I know you just had a baby, but I feel like you should start college one class at a time- on-line. It would be good for you!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06374573594800663980 Kacie

    This is a sad story. I know you're too busy now, but when the kids are a little bigger, I say… go get a college degree. Start out at community college, maybe, to get in the groove and work at some things you haven't done in years.

    You can still go to college.

  • http://child-likewonder.blogspot.com/ Beth

    YM-Another option for you might be community college classes. You can usually take some online and they have lots of night classes as well. Both my husband and I have taken classes/been in school with a young kid (I know you have four so I'm sure it would be trickier). Plus, taking classes at a community college you can go at a pace that works for you slowly working on general education classes, and eventually switch to a bachelor's program if you like. Also, I know when I went a few years ago I did not have to pay anything due to financial aid available.

    You seem like a very smart person. Just the fact that you can write (obviously know grammar and structure) is huge! I tutored college students who do not know how to write and they were the ones that struggled the most.

    Maybe you've already considered this option, I just want to point it out. I went to a community college for a few years when I lived at my parents house and taking classes on philosophy, world religions, politics, and even statistics was amazing! Huge openers for a very sheltered girl.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15454965172669677301 Bethany

    Parents like ours interpret the "Children are blessings" line more as "What children do for me almost makes up for the curse of having to raise them."

    Parents like ours use the "Training you to be a wife and mother" line to mask their real intentions of having a free live-in nanny. (If that line were true, our at-home education should have included how to socialize with our husbands' co-workers, how to make decisions for ourselves, and how to have frequent and fabulous sex, yes?)

    Parents like ours use the "Pleasing to God" line to repress natural development, squelch natural personality traits, and redirect natural interests… all for the sake of control.

    It's wrong. It's so very wrong. And I'm so very sorry for the limited position you find yourself in now because your parents wanted only what you could do, not who you were. The you I read in these posts is articulate and thoughtful and sometimes laugh-out-loud hilarious, and if they saw a blessing only in the extra set of hands, then they're the ones who have truly missed out.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04738076740941616678 Rebecca

    My Dad always says you can't regret your life because it got you to where you are. I know that doesn't make things better – but what an amazing witness you are to your family about self-realization and growth and what an amazing influence you have been on so many women through your blog, and you are a beautiful writer! I can't help but see how clearly God is using you to help others.

    I know that's probably not the comment you were hoping for – and I don't intend for it to be hurtful or discount the horrible things that have happened in your life (NOT AT ALL!).

    And, one of the most beautiful parts of this post (and your whole story honestly) is the fact that you and your husband work together and have a true partnership. Many woman who went to college can't say that, and no college degree will give you a husband and children.

    This is coming out all jumbled, but I truly pray that you can see the beauty that your life has become – and from one person who has struggle financially to another, I'd much rather have a husband to work with in struggles than a husband to work for in wealth.

    Prayers and love, friend!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05598890631695015818 Pippi

    Yeah, I feel many of these same things. Although my parents didn't refuse me education they could provide, my mom's dream was for me to be a secretary whenever I wasn't a SAHM (too bad I hate math). College was only a government brainwashing scheme, a pit of evil and immorality that must be shunned. Babysitting, housecleaning, and math were the only skills my mom thought any girl needed to provide a living for herself if necessary. She wasn't against a woman living alone, but she still had very strict gender roles in mind for the workforce as well as every other aspect of life. And with Mark's health and emotional problems, I have deeply resented that many times.
    I felt so guilty when I applied for a SSN and a driver's license, just like you applying for a job. I was torn between fear that I was rejecting God by giving up my freedom to the government, and anger that my parents had held me so far back behind my peers. I have an extensive knowledge of history, I can sing well, people always compliment us on our intelligence in political areas; but as thankful as I am for those things, none of them can put food on our table or pay the rent.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    I don't think Young Mom is complaining or wallowing in regret or something, I think she's simply pointing out that the Stay at Home Daughter ideal promoted by Vision Forum et al, and embraced by her parents, does not truly prepare a girl to be a an outstanding wife and mother as it claims, and it certainly does not prepare a girl to be an independent individual giving back to her family and nurturing herself at the same time. Yes, Young Mom has survived and is now thriving, but she's had a much harder and more round about time than she might have had she been allowed to attend college and have the preparation needed for a possible career.

  • Anonymous

    It'll will never be too late to go to college. My mother was a SAHM most of my childhood, had a few part-time jobs once my sister and I were in school all day, and finally went back to school when she was 45.
    Her kids were teenagers. Able to help around the house, mostly take care of ourselves and even help her with her math homework.
    She had always wanted to be a nurse, but her high school guidance counselor told her she wasn't smart enough and she should go to school for home economics. Now she's been working as a nurse for a decade, just finished her bachelor's in nursing and is looking into getting her master's.
    Distance learning opportunities are everywhere anymore. Most community colleges have them. Even just taking medical terminology or a basic computer course can make you qualified for more jobs.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Kacie- Yes! : ) Life hasn’t ended, I can still get the education I’ve always wanted. It will just be more complicated with children to care for and support.

    Beth- Thanks. I noticed that even expanding my reading list has opened my mind to new concepts that I had never been taught.

    Bethany- I could not have expressed the mindset better than your comment. Thank you.

    Rebecca- Yes. Regret is not having compassion on who I was then. I do see the beauty of my life (so much more clearly now that I am not trying to shoehorn myself into that constrictive role anymore). I did not write this in an attempt to get certain comments, more like an attempt to let parents out there know that excessive sheltering and the one-size-fits all approach is damaging, not a head start on life. I would not trade my husband and children for anything, and I am so happy to be blessed with them. It’s amazing that my husband and I have forged a partnership out of a marriage that started so lopsided and distorted.

    Pippi- Isn’t it crazy how normal everyday stuff was turned into a major cause for guilt?

    Libby Anne- Thank you, great description of where I was coming from.

    Anonymous-Thanks for sharing your mother’s inspiring story. It always awesome to hear about people who defied the labels put on them and went for it anyways.

  • http://grace-filled.net jen

    i'm going back to re-train as a respiratory therapist or a nurse (bsn) as soon as daniel is in school. to do this, i'm going to be taking classes online one at a time starting next year and once we get him into kindergarten, i'll go back full-time. it's harder to do when the kids are small but it's doable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08135229596877003069 Michelle

    Sometimes I regret getting my education (hello, student loans?) but most of the time I just take it for granted.

    This way you were raised (I know, I've said it before) is so crazy to me. I mean, I'm all for a woman being able to stay home and care for her children and her home and her husband…but this whole dark-ages, education is a waste on a woman thing is just too much for me. I'm not someone who classifies herself (as anything really but especially) as a feminist…but I guess I would be one to your family.

    I can't wait to see what the future holds for you and your family, though.

  • Anonymous

    I second what others are saying here, and want to share a tiny bit of a friend's experience. My friend had 7 kids, and went back to school when the youngest two started school. She is now a director of a Christian lay counseling. I wish you joy and fun as you experiment with learning about who God created you to be!
    Nancy

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17825458003284098965 Scott Morizot

    My life was completely different, of course, but becoming a teen parent and husband as young as I did (twice, no less) my life was one plan B after another and yet I ended up in a place I want to be. Plan B is not a bad way to live.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08353667980806676067 Ami

    I appreciate reading here because you explain so well how you feel and why you feel that way.

    Of course you already know that you're a very good writer, but consider working toward publishing some of your stories about your upbringing and how you ended up who and where you are.

    yeah, they are that good… and maybe, just maybe, you'd be helping someone. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10254315970336710941 CM

    I agree with the others here (who agree with you) that it's not to late to get a college degree at some point. Even if it's slower, see if you can do it without student loans. I'm so glad for my schooling and the career that it's allowed me to have, but loans are HUGE. If I met someone tomorrow, there's no way I could pay them all off by the time we started having kids.

    You know the biggest thing I think when I read this? I'm so excited that your daughters will have a chance to look at their options and decide what's going to work out best for them.

  • Anna

    I know several people have already said it but I have to say I love to read your blog because you are such a beautiful and insightful writer not to mention a critical thinker. I'm so sorry that your parents were too focused on their rigid belief system to allow your gifts and talents to bloom before now. Your analytical mind will be right at home when you do go to college.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    I second what Anna said! You have so many talents just waiting to be put to use–you can do it.

    To add to the encouraging anecdotes, I had a friend who's mother not only did not have much education when he and his sister were born, but was abandoned by her husband when they were both little. It was a struggle but she managed to not only complete a degree, but go on to get her Ph.D. She is now a researcher at a top state university–this as a single mom! So much is possible.

    One thing I would say–do not let yourself become insecure because you feel that you can't offer your husband enough as he goes through his own career woes. An intelligent, analytical, compassionate partner is a wonderful support to have, no matter their employability and education level, and your husband certainly has that in you. You have every right to be angry about what you were deprived of–and you should be. But, for your own sake, don't let that indignation cause you to discount all the wonderful things you do have to offer your loved ones and the world, just as you are right now. :-)

  • http://nowealthbutlife.com Rae

    Clearly your problem was that you didn't know where to look for a job. Your first clue should have been that your place as a woman is the *home*. I know many young women who didn't go to college and were able to help their husbands financially by cleaning houses or babysitting neighbor's children, all good work inside the home, even if not their own home.

    //end snark.

    One summer before I went to college I was actually cleaning houses when I had the thought that it did not matter if this is what I did for the rest of my life. I wanted to have interesting things to think about while I cleaned, and college would be well worth it. I know that some women are satisfied with shallow interior intellectual lives, but I wanted to be able to think, even if "all" I was doing was rocking a baby to sleep or washing dishes.

    I love what you describe here "my hope is that someday we will be able to equally share the work needed to support us, as well as time with our children. I’m learning what it means to have a dream, and I’m a better person for it." It is incredibly sad that so many parents set their children up for failure when it comes to someday working together with their future spouse to have their own family, including both financial support and domestic work.

    The one good thing about your position as I understand it is that you should be able to get incredible financial aid. I don't know all of http://www.elisaloves.com 's story, but I do know that she is 28 with 3 children and just finished her college degree. It can be done. Keep dreaming.

  • Laura

    Sigh, being a woman and balancing all the aspects of your life can get REALLY hard sometimes… I'm not married, but sometimes I wonder how will I deal with the whole situation if I do get married. I'm gonna repeat what everyone else said and say you can do it!!! It won't be easy but don't let that stop you, it's never too late, specially since you're a young woman with all her life ahead of her.

  • Alice

    Please don't think you are just another dependent to your husband! Look at the price of childcare for 4 kids under 5. In my area, that would be a minimum of $500 a week. Just because you are doing what you have done all your life does not mean that you are "really another dependent," although I feel the same way sometimes and I will have a my MMus at the end of this semester.

    My sister was also treated as live-in help and, thanks to the liberal homeschooling laws in our state, my parents could call it "home ec" and get away with it, even if someone had turned them in. (And, believe me, the priests at our church would have been HAPPY to do so if my parents had done something illegal.) It is sometimes hard for me to even be nice to them because they neglected her education and kicked her out without a penny. Now they wonder why she works in a bar, had a child out of wedlock, and is divorced (at 22). She and I have been discussing her options, but when you've been raised to completely subject yourself to your parents' whims, it can be difficult to be creative or even figure out what YOU want.

    Anyway, you're not alone.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15654013636892916062 Erika Martin – Stampin’ Mama

    My parents raised my sister and I the same way. They wouldn't even report to the state so we didn't get a real diploma. This year, I took the steps myself to get a high school diploma (not a GED) and marched with our town's high school class. I'm starting college in less than 2 weeks. I'm starting at the community college and then I'll go from there to get a bachelors and then a masters in psych. This might be a good place for you to start. :)

  • http://thetakeaway.blogos.org/ kersley

    "Regret is not having compassion on who I was then."

    I'm going to have to sit down and contemplate that one for a while.

    One thing I've learned over the last few years is that God is way more creative than I am. I did go to school–and got a degree in engineering. Then the military. Now? I'm a writer. And in college they told me I didn't need English for my degree :).

  • Loretta S.

    You can do it! It's hard, it's a sacrifice, it's lots of juggling, but you'll feel so energetic inside and powerful. Listen to God's voice in your heart. Where there's peace, that's where He's taking you.

  • entropy

    I enjoy reading your perspective of growing up in a quiverfull movement but sometimes you seem so bitter. Your parents loved you (it seems from what you say) and if they went about raising you in the wrong way, they did it from good intentions. They really wanted what they believed was best for you as all good parents do. At least, that's what I get from your posts.

    You have skills: sewing (I had to pay someone to make my daughter's square dance dresses), caring for children (you probably could get a job at a daycare or run your own without blinking) etc. You don't seem to value your skills but you have them.

    I don't agree with all the things your parents taught you but you're here, you're ok, you have a good husband and a lovely family. They did something right. You can't change the past; be happy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Jen- I love hearing how other moms are doing it. Thanks!

    Michelle- I can imagine student loans being quite a burden. I am also totally for moms (or dads) being able to stay at home with their children, I would prefer for my kids to be with a parent if at all possible. This post isn’t really about me wishing I could sprout wings and fly off to a career, it’s more about how it is frustrating to see how I was bending over backwards to do what my parents wanted of me, (not listening to my own needs or desires at all) because the threat of displeasing God was always there. And yes, you so would be a feminist in my families understanding, I remember back when I first saw your blog, thinking it was rather scandalous that you were a Christian working mom. : )

    Anonymous- Wow. So cool!

    Scott- I like that! I think most of us are living Plan B, and it is pretty darn good.

    Ami- Thank you. I love to write, so that would be awesome to get paid for it. And I wrote this post in the hopes that parents who are getting seduced into this pattern of thinking can see that it doesn’t always play out the way those movements promise, so I can hope that it will help someone.

    CM- Yes, loans can be brutal. I hope to avoid them. And I am so excited that my girls will have the chance to be who they are! Whether that involves going to college or not. : )

    Anna- Thank you! I am looking forward to broadening my experiences and figuring out what I enjoy.

    Petticoat- Wow, what an awesome story, I love that so many people are sharing these. Now that I realize that my husband actually wants my input and ideas, I am not nearly as insecure as when I was quiet and meek and submissive. I am really enjoying the process of figuring out who I am.

    Rae-Lol! I Totally agree. Even if I was never doing more than cleaning and childcare, I would still love to go to school, just to expand my life experience and THINK! And yes, sharing the babies and the wage-earning is a big dream of mine. M husband is to good of a father to be banished to the workplace the majority of the time.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Laura- Thanks! I haven’t let difficulty stop me yet. : )

    Alice- “When you’ve been raised to subject yourself to your parent’s whims, it can be difficult to be creative or even figure out what you want.” Yes! This is so true, it’s like you are taught to not have a mind/opinions. It took my 4 years AFTER I was out of their house to stop doing whatever they told me, that’s how hard the brainwashing is to shake.

    Erika- Congrats on your diploma! That sounds like the route I’d like to take, I don’t have a high school diploma either, didn’t really do much high school at all.

    Kersley- Sounds like what Scott was saying in his comment, living plan B. : )

    Loretta- Thanks.

    Entropy- I don’t think of myself as bitter. Back when I was pretending I was happy living the life planned for me, then I felt bitter because I felt like I had no power to change anything. My parents love me, but mostly they love the me they want me to be, not the me I am. I am thankful for the skills I received, sewing is fun to do sometimes, but I think I would go insane if I opened a daycare, I really need to find out what it’s like to do something else for a change. And while I knew how to physically care for a baby, pretty much all of my parenting skills I still had to learn myself after becoming a parent since my parents were highly controlling and punitive and I did not want to inflict that on my own children. So I am not going to credit them with those skills. I’m not going to give them credit for the incredible amount of work we’ve had to do to keep our marriage together and not hurt our kids, that has nothing to do with my parents, the only thing they taught me about marriage was work hard, shut up and keep your head down. I’m sorry that my blog tends to revolve around my background and healing and questioning, but that is kind of why I started this blog in the first place. I had just realized that I did not want to be my parents, and that I had no idea who I was, so I started this blog to help me sort that all out in my head, and it’s been quite a journey. I am happier now than I have ever been. This is one of the first years in a long time that I haven’t felt suicidal and worthless. And this Post Partum is the very first time I did not struggle with thoughts of hurting my baby. So I’d say that “bitter” or not, it’s working for me.

  • Anonymous

    I just wanted to encourage you, like many others, that it's never too late to go back to school.

    Also, my mom went back to school for her master's when I was in elementary school and it was a great experience for me to see how hard she was working (she was working full-time as a teacher, raising three kids, and going to grad school) to become a better teacher and be able to better provide for her family (in our state teachers with a master's make substantially more than teachers with a bachelor's). Although everyone in our family had to make some sacrifices, watching my mom work for and accomplish such as huge thing was a wonderful experience for me, and you may be able to give that same great experience to your children.

    -Emily

  • poweful!!

    Very powerful. Young mom, keep on going. You have remarkable insight and your voice needs to be heard.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17871256362646081536 Amber

    While I didn't come from nearly as damaging a home, I do understand your frustrations. My parents told me I should set my goals on college–neither of them had a college degree and they wanted their kids to avoid the pain they had experienced for this lack of foresight (or encouragement, in my opinion); however, they also told me my greatest job would be a wife and mother to children. I was told getting a degree would be a good safety net in case my husband could not support us for some reason. I feel slightly bitter for this because I think a better approach would have been getting a degree and sharing the financial and child care load with my husband in a relationship that is truly equitable.

    You speak of your husband and the pain he has endured, how I understand! My husband has worked several jobs because he feels he needs to care for our family, financially, and it has created a heavy burden for him to bear. With my mindset changed, I would like to go back in the past and live life the way I see it now–with husband and wife equally supporting and engaging in all aspects of their life. It isn't one person's duty to care for one area, it is both their duties.

    I know you are hurting right now and I know you feel like you have no options, but as others have said, you do have options. It's funny, since leaving my faith (though I have not come to a conclusion for God) I have more hope for my future than I did before. I feel that my options are unlimited; that my husband and I are equal. I guess it's why I try to rid myself of guilt when I apply for jobs and/or master's programs.

    Super long comment aside, I echo other reader's sentiments that you are an excellent writer. An excellent mother. You have many talents and time has not run out, you are young and have many years ahead of you. Kids will eventually grow and you will have more time to yourself.

    P.S. Are you homeschooling your kids?

  • Anonymous

    It's never too late. College wasn't an option for me either, until I was a wife and a mother. I went back to school, at first just one class at a time, studying while my baby slept. I graduated with an engineering degree when I was 44. My kids were so proud of me! Start at a local community college. Take a beginning composition class or a math class. If nothing else you'll be better able to help school your own children.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14636188494896052109 stevo1729

    your writing is perfect, fluid, with no spelling or grammatical errors. So, why regret the past? Go learn!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13603853079772981391 Raya

    What a blessing that you are rising above that oppressive upbringing and that your marriage is now a partnership thats incredible.I was drawn in to the "quiverfull" philosophy until I saw a friend feeling trapped and depressed having child after child day in day out rarely leaving home ,with no plans for it to ever end .And then it lost its luster for me as I saw the reality of the movement .God has obviously blessed you to see threw this diception about what He created women for.
    I pray He makes the individual purpose He created you for clear to you and He lends you His strength to fufill it.
    Many Blessing

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15377583333000789903 Mrs. Anna T

    Hello, I've never been to your blog before, but someone sent me a link to this post and I wrote a response on my blog. If you have the time to stop by and read, you are most welcome. I truly feel for you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09781087195919611263 angela

    Hi… I just couldn't help, but say a few things.. First, thanks for the honesty. We couldn't have grown up in more different circumstances. I was as FREE as a child could be. I could persue any thing I wanted to. My parents divorced when I was young and both remarried not long after. They were so focused on their new lives that we kids really could do what we wanted. We didn't have chores. I could go to a friends house and stay there for 2 weeks and they wouldn't care. We could watch whatever, go where ever we wanted. My brother and myself ended up growing up with NO LIFE SKILLS. At 19 I started attending a church for the first time in my life and gave my life to Christ. I did attend college for a while, but I never could figure out what I wanted to do with my life. REALLY although I could have or do ANYTHING I wanted and I went to a liberal baptist church that didn't teach anything about "roles" for men and woman I found that my one desire was marraige and children. I wanted to stay home be with my children and have a house full. Problem was in my church this was not nor is it now the NORM. I had no one to support me on my feelings about this. So I had to find direction and affirmation in God's word. I do all the same things as you, BUT I LOVE THEM. I have to constantly battle the world around me that tells me that this can't possibly fulfill me. I have not lost myself to the contrary I have found myself. I am thankful for your post though because I have a daughter who is the oldest of 4. All of my children have chores and we home-school. I try to always support her interests and I never want her to do something because it's what she is supposed to do. If she wants to go to college I support her. If she wants to be a doctor I support that too. I think that training a young woman in child-rearing and home-making are invaluable, but alot of that my daughter is learning by observation. I don't want her to raise my kids or clean my house, but she will contribute to her family as will ever member of this family. Anyway, I just think sometimes we all want what we didn't have. After reading this I will be more mindful of handle certain situations in the future. God bless you and your family!!!

  • Anonymous

    I am an older lady; a pastor's wife. I have always valued my college education. I went to college after I had been married for 4 years (my parents couldn't afford to send me). I had no children at the time, my husband was in college, too, we lived off the G.I. Bill, and he was in the National Guard and I had a work-study job and we owned a little duplex and lived in one side and rented out the other; so we had a little money in dribs and drabs, so it was doable. I have never "used" my college education, and yes, we paid off the loans for years, but I think it was worth it. My husband and I have our college years and educations in common, as well as other things, and I think that is a good thing.

    Since coming onto the internet and the strict Christian blogs (many of which are homeschool-quiverfull — I had no idea this was out there till I started blogging), I have been pressured by various bloggers to admit that my education was a waste and a mistake. I have not been able to bring myself to do it, although I came close. Then I shook myself awake, and decided I would not allow something that I have always valued to be spoken of as evil by others.

    As the others here have suggested, you can start by going online, or taking correspondence courses. You can also try to go to a nearby college and audit a course or two, for starters. Then take one course at a time as you can afford it and have time to do it. I started college this way: one course at a time, before I could go full time. On-line and correspondence is great, but there is nothing like the stimulation of a classroom — a professor and other students to learn from and bounce ideas off of.

    Don't let anybody kill this dream of yours. If you have to start small, start small. Wishing you the best! Mary

  • http://articles.earthlingshandbook.org ‘Becca

    Yikes, your parents' mindset is astonishing; it's spookily similar to fundamentalist Islam! I wonder why, in training you to be a perfect wife, they didn't consider that college coursework would make you more interesting for your husband to talk with?

    I started college 20 years ago this month, so I've been reflecting on it lately. It was a rough time in some ways, but I was able to handle an enormous amount of work, stress, and drama (with little sleep or food) because I was young and unencumbered. To quote a song of the era, "We're only immortal for a limited time." I'm very grateful that I got to use that pseudo-immortality to the fullest. The coursework was only half of the experience; the other half was living on my own and learning to be myself. It was an important stage of life, and I'd be a totally different person today if I'd skipped it.

    You can get a college education later–and I hope you will!–but you will never experience college the way I did. You've been robbed. I know many people will think I'm putting that too strongly, but I really feel that going away to college as a young adult is crucial at least as an OPTION for everyone.

    Your children are very fortunate that you will give them more flexibility than you had yourself. Not only will your daughters have a chance at all the education they want, but your son will not be crippled by a rigid male role. Adam's curse–hmmf!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00394073543168209042 Jonquil

    I wish you joy and strength and growth. I have been catching up on the "back issues" of your blog and am amazed by your strength of character and your hard-won wisdom.

    I have some magic words for you: "non-traditional student". Look it up on Wikipedia — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-traditional_student

    More and more schools (although not enough) realize that people come to college from different paths, and that somebody can have no high school degree and be a mother and yet deserve (and benefit from!) a college education. These programs work on tailoring education to a person's life circumstances, rather than insisting that everybody be an 18-year-old single high school graduate.

    Good luck to you. May you fly wherever your wings want to go.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09882774610725490491 Jo

    I UNDERSTAND COMPLETELY. Even though our stories are different I can share a very similar childhood – I was brought up in a Brethren home where we attended a home church. I had a loving childhood and my parents were/are wonderful. BUT I lived differently to all I knew (I did attend a public school but stood out and I was always wanted to be the same as all my friends) and I knew that I wasn't allow to do so many things – from the books I read to not having a TV. For a quiet girl who had never rebelled I did at the age of 19, left home and ran off with someone who later became my husband. I did everything I wasn't allow to do – I WAS FREE. I have returned to my Christian roots but it took along time – but not to live a life quite so strict as my parents.

    For those women who have no lived this sort of life as a child and believe strongly in the "stay-at-home" mum with lots of children find this difficult to understand and I struggle to explain it to others.

    Yes, I did end up going to university and now work in a job I love. I have raised 2 boys who are now adults. Many conservative women just don't understand this desire to be free.

    Happy to chat further.

    Blessings

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13674332089949439989 Young Mom

    Emily- Thank you for sharing your mom’s story. That would be amazing to be an inspiration to my children. : )

    Amber- Yes. My husband was raised the same as I, and feels a huge burden to provide everything. I know what you mean about having more options than ever after leaving your faith. The future is not as dark, and for the first time I am truly able to see my husband and I as equals. Thank you for the encouragement, and no, we are not planning on homeschooling, too much baggage.

    Raya- I think that depression in these Quiverfull circles is far more common than anyone admits too.

    Angela- I’m sorry that you were left to fend for yourself as a child, and I’m glad that you’ve found a place you feel fits you. I know the feeling of having no life skills. I am still getting over my extreme social awkwardness and fear. I think that you are right about your daughter learning a lot through observation. I had never observed how to treat people (including children) with respect and acceptance, and I think those things are foundational to good relationships.

    Anonymous Pastor’s wife- Thank you.

    ‘Becca- In many ways I was robbed, and so are many other girls like me. It is hard to watch the Dugger and Bates families on TV for example, they are living in the same tiny box I was in so many ways.

    Jonquil- Thanks! All these examples and encouragement is so exciting. : )

    Jo- Yes, it is hard to explain. I find the people who don’t understand are usually the ones who always had a choice on what to do with their lives, it’s hard for them to even fathom not being able to choose whatever it is they felt they wanted to do.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14247515387599954817 Jean

    I work at a community college (when I'm not homeschooling my kids) and I'd like to chime in on encouraging you to take CC classes. They're cheap, they offer wonderful resources, you can do one class at a time–often in the evening–and meet lots of new people.

    My great-grandmother was not allowed to go to college (her parents insisted that she work and considered that they had been quite generous enough letting her finish HS) and spent all of her adult life doing correspondence courses until she went to college in her 70's and got a BA in accounting in 1969. :) She was furious when her daughter, my grandmother, dropped out of college to get married–but my grandmother went to college in HER 70's and finished a BA and MA in anthropology. Indeed it is never, ever too late!

  • http://www.flatheadmama.blogspot.com Rebecca

    I'm so sorry you missed out on college. And I simultaneously can't believe you didn't go to college. You are so dang smart and would take to it like a fly to honey. Have you ever considered doing the first couple of years of school online slowly while being a stay at home mom? Then you could do the next couple of ones on campus when you feel ready. Go for it! You'd be awesome!

    Can you say more about your husband's career change? Is he leaving the ministry? What do you mean about an abusive employer? (I know there are definitely times the Church can seem that way…I say this having served as a pastor myself.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11776297475252154278 The Kitchen Witch

    I first have to commend you for being so honest. I know that it cannot be easy when you feel angry or frustrated by your circumstances to write about it and let people read it! I had to drop out of college due to health problems and lack of funds. I do plan to someday go back. Being a young mom and wife like you (I had my son when I was 20) I am happy being a stay at home mom and I rationalize it like this:

    1. I like being at home with my son. If I like being home why should I feel like I HAVE to work outside the home.

    2. I do sweat equity. I really loved the book Radical Homemakers. Just because I am home doesn't mean that there aren't things I can do to make money or save it. Just by not working I am saving my family at minimum $10,000 a year in childcare costs.

    I also noticed that you mentioned in one of your comments that you feel that it's best for one parent to be home (mom or dad!) That's great, it shows how far you've come in realizing that it doesn't have to be mom at home all the time. It's a sign of a true partnership when both parents take an active role in their children's lives! I hope that someday you realize your dreams of a college education!

  • Anonymous

    There is a way to be investing yourself in your higher education right now, without the expense or pressure of taking a formal class: you can prepare yourself to take CLEP exams (ie earning college credits) so that when things open up for you a little more, you can go in with sophomore or even junior status, saving yourself time and money while you attain your college degree.

    I know anything with the word "homeschool" in it will probably have all kinds of automatically negative connotations, but you might check out the course offerings at Homeschool College USA. this site is geared toward high-school students, but the aim is to earn college credits, so it would be useful for anyone wanting to make strides in attaining a college education. I've been pretty impressed with their resources overall. You do have to have the self-discipline to put your coursework together and actually do it, but clearly you can work on your own schedule and take exams as you're ready to do them. This is also a way to explore, for free, areas that just interest you — the foreign-language offerings are good, for example, if you wanted to stretch your mind that way while you nurse the baby.

    I have to say, as a homeschooling mother, I find your parents' mindset beyond bizarre. I home educate my children because I want them to be prepared for college; my husband is a professor, and I see the papers his students write and hear about how they don't want or know how to read even on a level that I would have thought was requisite for high-school students. My daughter, who's a college freshman right now, reports that her literature class is "just like ninth-grade English — we're reading The Iliad and talking about recurring themes," and I have to admit that this was sort of my goal all along.

    She and I have had a lot of conversations about education and life goals — she wants to be a mother, ultimately, and I don't think she should have to feel embarrassed that that's her real ambition, or that she'd be wasting her education by being home with children. And yes, there are plenty of people in academia and elsewhere who would shame a girl for that. I was dropped, as in "hot potato," by a formerly very dear friend who had been my graduate-school professor and mentor, when my fourth child was born. This former friend decided that a "serious" person couldn't possibly have four children, and that she didn't want to have anything to do with me if I wasn't "serious". She has recently been back in touch with me, for reasons I can't fathom, and has admitted as much, so I know I'm not making that up. Speaking of trying not to be bitter. I'm finding charitable communication with this person to be very difficult, largely because she seems to regard her dropping of me as totally rational. She's older and alone, and though I don't really feel like it, I can't help thinking I'm supposed to be there for her somehow. But this is an aside.

    Anyway, as my daughter has astutely pointed out herself, "The basic unit of society ought to be educated." My own thinking about what education *is* is that "What are you going to do with that" is the wrong question anyway. I mean, duh. You're going to *think.* Somebody has to. And there's really nothing gender-specific about the life of the mind.

  • http://mollydodd.wordpress.com/ mollydodd

    Thank you for sharing that. I grew up in a moderately conservative homeschooling family, and my experience was so very different, it is enlightening to hear the other side of the story. I read all those books you mentioned and did all the crafts, but I only had an older brother, and my parents were so laid back about chores so between making quilts and turning up my nose snobbily at Elsie DInsmore, I also read G K Chesterton and The Brother's Karamazov, and then went to community college, and university, was baptized Greek Orthodox, taught design in village Alaska, used the extra money to earn a MA in Great Books, taught again, and am currently in ex-soviet Georgia (where we have elaborate wine-based toasts most nights). I guess my parents are kind of hippy conservative homeschooling anglican/evangelicals — I went to a girl's Bible study for a year or so where the leader suggested the stay-at-home daughter model, so I asked my father about it, and he simply said that it sounded alright if one was independently wealthy or part of the minor nobility, but that it sounded like it would be something of a strain on the family, unless I was going to start a home business selling art or something.

    At the same time, I'm 24 and have never even seriously dated — so I figure that I'll either get married, or I won't, and that if I don't, perhaps I'll join a monastery or some such Christian commune. But that could be alright. Marring and starting a family is good, and living in a monastery is also good. In the meantime, teaching is also rather good. I've actually been rather surprised at how open my very conservative protestant friends (in the jean skirts, with their waist-length hair, getting married and having beautiful children) have been about my choices.

  • Anonymous

    Hi. I just discovered your blog today. I homeschooled my children for one year and that was it. It was not for us, and that was hard for me to accept, but I will not go into that story, because I wanted to encourage you. Just look at what you are doing on this blog! You are generating so much thought and interest! I teach English at a community college and you obviously write well. I agree with many of the other comments here that it is never too late to go to college. BUT in the mean time, while you are loving those sweet little ones, know that you are already making a difference by being so open with your experiences. You are significant in your mothering and in your marriage, yes, but that is not what ultimately makes you significant. I hope you continue to recover and heal.

  • Daisy

    Hello,

    Your story broke my heart. I can so relate. As a teenager, this was my life. I know what it is like to feel worthless, yet guilted into working for my parents, forced babysitting and delaying basic education just to get the chores done. I too believed lies from Vision Forum, my church at the time etc. Life purpose, independent thought and helping myself and others through a job were not for me because I am a woman.
    God in His love, showed me that I am made whole in Him. I pray that you would feel God’s love today! You are precious and important to Him, and your identity is His daughter, not in the neglect and abuse that was done toward you!
    Praise God that you now know the truth and can love your children in a more balanced way. Because of what you went through, your kids never have to. Because of the pain you suffered, it is not in vain, you can now speak the truth against the oppression of “stay at home because it is the only option for women.”
    Just as a way of encouragement, read John 4. I love this passage, because it shows us who Jesus really is, and how he thinks of women. The legalistic culture in which you and I were brought up in says, “be a pure, obedient woman in your own strength.” But who does Jesus reach out to? The woman living in sin and fear, because He loves her so much. While you are small, He is great. While you struggle to know how to live life now, perhaps how to forgive your parents, how to really be a helper and lover to your husband, He knows and cherishes you.
    I know you have a busy life, but if you want to talk or whatever, go ahead and shoot me an e-mail. I’m a twenties something young married too!
    Love you sister,
    Daisy


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