Being smart is not a bad thing. Nor is it a good thing. However, in hindsight, being labeled as a "smart" child from an early age seemed to imply a certain degree of masculinity. What do I mean by this?
Well, not to toot my own horn, but I was a smart kid. I was an early reader and, in early elementary, my mother gave me supplemental assignments when I got too bored with normal school work.
Which is good. Nothing wrong with wanting to nurture your child's potential. The problem with being smart first became apparent around fifth grade.
While I was good at school, I never particularly enjoyed it. I was a creative spirit who wanted to write, read and perform. Not only did I not get to do that, but I was surrounded by 25 other kids who were also not doing what they wanted. And it was very apparent to everyone.
My fifth grade teacher saw my "smarts" and gave me an out, or so I thought. I could test out of sixth grade math and jump up to seventh grade math once I hit middle school the following year. I could "get ahead and get on with my life".
How could I say no? Getting more math, my least favorite subject, out of the way so that I could get on with my life of reading, writing and creating - it was a no brainer.
So I did. And throughout my middle school career, I tested out of more courses. This meant in high school, I took all of my senior courses as a junior, and could have graduated early.
"But what about college?"
"You're so talented; you shouldn't waste your gifts!"
"You could get such a good job with a degree."
I liked theater, and considered a degree related to the arts, but my teachers and counselors quickly shot me down. They wanted me to go into the sciences and apply to Ivy League schools. My creative spark had nearly been bludgeoned to death, so I caved.
Instead of graduating early, I took an AP chemistry class at my high school and dual enrolled in a full load of college courses. At the end of my senior year, all my teachers and classmates could not help but preemptively congratulate me on becoming valedictorian.
An honor that I never ended up receiving.
I had put "my life" on hold to pursue academic validation, only to be edged out by hundredths of a grade point. I bit off a piece of my laptop the night I found out.
Even though I had lost "valedictorian", I still got a sizeable scholarship to an engineering school. Everyone joked about me getting a "wife degree" and then bailing on my chosen career path once I got married.
"Not me, I'm going to do something with my degree. And I'm certainly not looking for a husband."
Well, doing something with my degree turned into joining the military as a doctor once I graduated. I had to pay off my loans somehow, and accepted this knowing that I would be putting my life on hold once again. That did not matter to me anymore. Who needed a husband or children? I did not need to be doing what I felt called to do, but what was best for "the greater good".
I was gifted.
I was talented.
I was smart.
And that is all that mattered to me.
Luckily, that is not what mattered to my mother. She did not like the idea of me joining the military, and vehemently prayed that something, or someone, would come into my life to make me stay.
Shortly after I told my mother of my "desire" to join the military, I began dating my now husband. Wanting to go into the military turned into becoming a physician’s assistant. Which turned into becoming a pathologists assistant. So I applied and was accepted into a small, selective program to become a pathologist’s assistant (thanks to my connections in the morgue).
My husband supported me throughout all of this. Most importantly, he supported me when I decided enough was enough. The program encouraged us to spend time away from our families. In this career, I would have to handle products of conception. After several deaths on both sides of our family, I called it quits. It is one of the smartest decisions I have ever made.
So, after all this, why do I view being "smart" as masculine? Because that is the way I have been taught to perceive it. Being smart today means getting a good job and spending time outside of the home to make money. Men traditionally take on this role. Is it wrong to tell a woman she can hold a job and make money? Of course not! However, not all women want that. I never did. I felt pressured and guilted into accepting that narrative.
No one ever told me that being smart would make me a good mother, allow me to homeschool my children or ensure my household was run smoothly. I could only ever be smart outside of the house, away from my family.
Hearing that you are smart and that you would be wasting your "gifts" doing anything other than holding a high paying job, you start to wonder if it is selfish to want a quiet life at home. I used to think that it would be detrimental to the world if I were not out working in it and using my "smarts". However, I think the biggest detriment would be depriving my husband of a wife, my children of a mother and myself of the opportunity to pursue what God made me to do. No job can fulfill me when I know the Lord's true intent for my life.
Now that I am older, I am not so proud to think that my desire to stay at home and raise my family is depriving the world of a brilliant mind. On the contrary, I think it benefits my children to have an intelligent mother, who can give them one-on-one attention and teach them in a less stressful, more reliable environment.
So yes, I did technically get a wife degree. But it is also a mother degree and a teacher degree. I am smart enough to know that my children will need me in the future. My husband appreciates this, and I know my children will too. I am an author, a homemaker, a wife and a mother. And the smartest decision I have made is to be happier, and not "smarter".