Personal & Spiritual Development, Tarbiyyah

Now that I stay at home, has my degree gone waste?

“You put in a lot of hard work into getting your degree. Don’t waste it. Do something.”

I have honestly lost the count of times this seemingly harmless statement has been hurled at me by very well meaning family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers.

There was a time I would get very awkward about it all trying to give all the valid explanations. Later I would plop in my bed, face buried in pillow bawling my eyes out. The thing is I was a very ambitious under grad student who had put in a lot of hard work in dental school and then later in post grad training. Not to mention all the $$$$ which my parents had spent in going to college which they just paid off.

Was I wasting it all?

For the longest time I have felt my parents thought I was a failure just because I chose to stay at home and not pursue my career. After all when others were boasting about their doctor children, they couldn’t say back their heads held high that their daughter is working as dentist in Australia. For the record though my parents never forced me to choose a certain career path. All of us siblings had full reins of our decision in that regard. But those of you with South Asian background, you would know how big of a deal being a doctor is.

The truth is I do feel pride in that prefix attached to my name and in being called a Doctor.

The thing is, it did give me a sense of fulfilment when I looked after patients and treated them. It was a source of my identity. I was working to further that identity by working towards my post grad. My goal was to get a PhD and become a successful academician. If I was not pursuing all that now, then what was I doing? Who was I now?

I was in a total identity crisis!

For the longest time I was torn between choices. Should I go back to pursuing my career and post grad to justify all the hard work I had done to achieve it all? Did everyone see my worth in only what I should be bringing to the table and not in who I was raising? Or what I was providing in the form of love, nurturing, care and comfort of the whole family?

I have been blessed with the most loving and God fearing husband.

We have been blessed with two most beautiful an very inquisitive children. Together we have weaved a vision for what we want to be together as a family. What we want to be, what we want to achieve and what we want to leave for our children. For that he works hard to provide for us all while I do whatever I can in my capacity as a mother and as a home maker. As a person who has battled with anxiety and depression, I feel this setting also ensures a good balance for all of us at this phase in our lives.

In life we go through changes and phases.

I am a firm believer in the fact that our choices in life shouldn’t be static. We go through phases which change our perspective and circumstances. And the best way to live through it is to mould ourselves according to your circumstances.

While I might not be practising dentistry today, it was never a complete waste of my time and energy.

• All the experiences I gained and all the people I met while at dental school has shaped a lot of what I am today.

• I learnt some very valuable life changing lessons while treating many patients at the clinic.

• My education and all those experiences gave me insights into life which I can impart onto my children.

• My post grad training taught me how research is conducted and it helped me sift through all health and education related researches out there. It helped me make better health and education related decisions for our family.

• The valuable skills I gained over the course of my studies, practice and training, I can apply them better managing my home.

• I have learnt my self worth isn’t in a prefix attached to my name.

• I have gained an insight into how money works. It certainly can’t buy everything.

• If I hadn’t trodden down the path of attaining this degree, my husband wouldn’t have come into my life and we wouldn’t have been living the life we are living now.

Everything happens for a reason and I am grateful for it. Alhamdulillah.

At the moment we are homeschooling our children and I feel my education gives me an edge on achieving those goals for our children.

There’s a beautiful hadith of Rasoolullah ﷺ which goes:

……A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them.….

….. No doubt, every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.

Sahih Al-Bukhari 6719

This hadith gives me a sense of identity, it validates my role as a mother. It gives a sense of leadership and a sense of immense power. The power to guide my children, shape them, mould them whichever way and however I want. Of course all the while remaining within the precincts of our Deen and commands of Allah.

Does this mean I have disregarded my degree as a Dentist?

I am grateful for all the people who came in my life as a part of my training in becoming a dentist. I am grateful for all the people I got to learn from and all the people I got to help. Just because I just not to practice dentistry now doesn’t mean I won’t utilise my qualification in anyway again.

At this point in life I am just fully immersed in learning, exploring and growing along with my children. These years are passing by all too fast and I don’t want to miss a thing.

So now when someone asks me when do I intend to do “something” with my life? I tell them I am a mother and I am already doing more than enough!

Disclaimer: I have had a hard time writing this just for the fact how this might be perceived. Recently I saw many sisters share their accounts of going through the same crisis. Reading their stories gave me the courage to finally write about my own journey. For the record, I have huuuuge respect for mums who work outside homes (I refuse to use “working mums” for valid reasons and I feel terms used around mothers need a complete overhaul). I feel getting to stay at home is indeed a privilege and I am sure many aren’t able to afford. But I pray whatever choices we make for the sake of our sanity and our families, we feel confident in them and don’t use our position to drag anyone down.

P.S. If you want to feel empowered in your role as a mother and parent your children from a place of purpose and intention, you need to be on the lookout for my upcoming book “Motherhood Revealed”. Subscribe below for upcoming updates and insights inshaAllah.

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7 Comments

  1. Jazakillahu khair for writing this.
    I read in a book some time back that we need to live our lives in phases and not every project needs to be done in each phase. Children are the most important project we work on 😀

    I am personally amazed at how people unappreciate knowledge of a mother, not the degree but knowledge. A mother who is intentionally raising her children has way more knowledge about various aspects of life than others in my opinion.

  2. Jazakallah for sharing your story. I really appreciate and respect your hard work. I’m very impressed with you that you are homeschooling your kids(it’s the best part of this article for me because I want to do the same when I get married and I’ll have my own kids). Your story is truly an inspiration for me… 😍😍

  3. Must say I have been feeling really lost myself and was myself beginning to feel like I had wasted 4 years of my life doing a law degree that I am not using anymore.

    But those 4 years are what made me into the person I am today even if I am not literally using the degree. They helped me become strong and independant

  4. Beautiful & Reflective! Knowledge never goes to waste actually..even when we go pursue something else in our lives. f

  5. I related so much to your article. Before having my daughter, I completed a Masters degree program. When I became pregnant, I was adamant that I was going to stay home with her, especially for those crucial first few years of life. People were extremely critical of me and felt like I was wasting my degree. Sometimes we need to put our priorities in perspective and consider, how do we truly feel fulfilled? what do we want from life? Not every woman needs to fit the same mold. You can work, you can stay at home–as long as it’s the path you feel best for you, then pursue it!

  6. Aisha M says:

    SubhaanAllah!! I just saw your takeover on the muslimahblogs on IG and saw this title! I knew I had to come read it! Thank you soo much for writing this. I have thought about this for the longest time. I want to homeschool my children but also had identity crises and suffered with guilt that I was wasting my undergrad training and possibly the post grad too. SubhaanAllah. I am so grateful to come across this. In my mind I can still practice once the children get older inshaAllah. I am still thinking of homeschooling and would like to earn some income from home. Making lots of dua and telling myself to journal to process all these thoughts. Thank you sooo much for sharing this. Jazaakillah khair

  7. Beautiful post. You’ve mentioned this when we met but knowing in detail why you made this decision is amazing. If ever I’m unable to practice, I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I’m not a waste of space, all that knowledge will not be useless and my decision can be worth it. You definitely are always doing enough!

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