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August 02, 2005

Heroes of the Home

From the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs...

Once upon a time she was the high-achieving career woman who had it all, but decided she really, really wanted her nanny’s job.

The 43-year-old blonde is also “Dr. Karim,” a specialist in obstetrics/gynecology with a degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. After two decades in the medical profession, the good doctor had delivered thousands of babies and established a successful practice in metropolitan Oklahoma City. During that time she also wed her soul mate and bore three beautiful children.

Four and a half years ago, she chose to exchange the stethoscope and the bedside manner for the elementary school books and the chauffeuring detail. After retiring from her enviable job, Dr. Karim is now a stay-at-home mom who also homeschools her children, ages 11, 9, and 6.

Her saga begins with a couple of war stories about her dual, frequently complicated former life as a busy mother and physician. “I worked full time and then some,” she recalls. “One time, I went three days without seeing the kids. That one tore me apart. (Another time) my oldest would be at the door crying, ‘Mommy, don’t go.’ That was really hard....

“We realized we got caught up in the materialistic side of things – having the best cars, house, vacations – and we weren’t focusing on the spiritual side and ‘making yourself better for God’ side.”

While Jana was working through her dark night of the soul (to use the memorable phrase associated with St. John of the Cross), another teachable moment occurred when her eldest child – then a second grader in a public school’s accelerated program – was confined to bed due to an illness. In helping her son with his schoolwork, Jana estimates it took less than an hour to get his work completed.

“I thought, ‘What is he doing with the rest of the time?’ I loved the school, but I realized there was so much more we could do.”...

Convinced that the teach-thine-own lifestyle was what she wanted to pursue wholeheartedly, Dr. Karim referenced Gregg Harris’s book The Christian Home School to help her make her case to her lawyer spouse, Andrew Karim. He initially thought her alternative education idea was “nuts,” but has since become an enthusiastic supporter.

But embarking on such a lifestyle change – which meant the Karims also had to reinvent themselves as a one-income family – wasn’t easy. Then there was the emotional transition, and the accompanying reaction, to no longer working as a doctor. She says the adjustment took about a year....

“A few (of my patients) were angry at me for leaving,” she says. “Many of them were sad to see me go, but they understood. I had people, who didn’t know me and only heard what I had done, say, ‘What a waste.’” ...

In 1991, Mrs. Field left the workforce to homeschool her brood. She has four children – three are adopted and one is biological. “Sure it can be more glamorous to go to an office and be called ‘Ma’am’ than just be a middle-aged woman in the suburbs,” she candidly remarks.

But she decided that “sub-contracting the children rearing” wasn’t for her. The prolific writer has commented honestly and cheerfully about her new life. In Home School Digest magazine, she wrote, “My house unapologetically reflects the fact that children are in residence. From the toys on the lawn to the projects scattered around the house, a visitor can readily see that this is a place of creativity and learning.”

Posted by Danny Carlton at August 2, 2005 08:37 AM

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