National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Elite Education at Home

One mother writes about how her Ivy League education is not wasted as a stay-at-home mom.

BY The Editors

Sept. 22-Oct. 5, 2013 Issue | Posted 9/16/13 at 5:08 PM


In August, posted a blog by Anne-Marie Maginnis titled "O, Alma Mater." The column also appears in Verily’s fall print issue.

Maginnis writes about how her Ivy League education is not wasted as a stay-at-home mom.

"Perhaps the most meaningful way in which stay-at-home moms use their elite degrees is by raising their children to be well-educated, confident leaders of the next generation. When a mother with an Ivy League education stays home to raise children, she is making it her full-time job to invest the best that she has received, including her education, into these children. She is choosing to form a few people in a profound way, rather than to affect a broader audience with a smaller per-person investment," she wrote.

"These mothers are not sacrificing pay, prestige and a stimulating career without good reason. They feel they are giving their children something they could not otherwise give if they were out of the house all day. This is not to denigrate mothers who cannot afford to stay home; they obviously serve their family, often at great personal sacrifice. Nor is it to criticize working mothers who choose to share their talent with the larger world. It is merely to point out that highly educated women who choose to stay home with their children have a unique contribution to make as well.

"What they are giving is time. Stay-at-home mothers can use their own intellectual and personal formation to transform quantity time into quality time, and thereby greatly enrich their children’s lives.

"For example, when my daughter is driving me to distraction, I stop what I’m doing, pick up a book, and read to her. We read the entire Little House on the Prairie series in a couple of weeks, which I love for its sense of history and appreciation for craft. … And that’s the thing. Reading these books to my daughter is a reflection of my own passion for literature — the very literature I majored in at Princeton, where my eyes were fully opened to the beautiful intricacies and art of books. But before I ever went to Princeton, my love for reading was ignited by my own mother. She read to us every night. Once I could read for myself, I devoured a book a day for years — which helped when I took the SATs and earned a perfect verbal score, one of my stronger selling points when I applied to Princeton. Now I am repeating that cycle with my own daughter. …

"Having received the wonderful gift of an elite education, I didn’t leave it behind. I carry it with me in who I am today. It enriches my life in ways that no salary can measure. It is worthwhile in a way no measure of productivity is needed to justify. …

"We call the schools from which we graduate ‘alma mater,’ nourishing mother, and I have always been grateful to Princeton for being just that. Now that I am a mother myself, however, and as I nourish the bodies and minds of my own children, I find yet deeper meaning in those words."