"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Friday, February 6, 2015

I Don't Regret My Master's Degree

I’m a stay-at-home mom. I spend more of my time at playgrounds than in meetings. I literally can’t remember the last time I used an iron. The people I come into contact with on a daily basis are very likely to be small and holding a sippy cup. And my conversations with my “colleagues” almost all revolve around bodily functions (“Honey, it really looks like you need to use the potty.” “Come here, baby, let me wipe your nose.” “Mommy, did you know that wombats poop square poops?”). It’s not always glamorous, but it’s the life I chose.

Many of my friends have also put their careers on hold while they stay home with their kids. For some, it’s a decision for life; women who are happy to be at home with and for their families with no desire or aspirations to re-enter the workforce. For others, it’s a temporary arrangement; women who, for any number of reasons, have taken time off to be at home while their children are little, but who will resume their careers at some point in the foreseeable future. For some, being a stay-at-home mom is hell on Earth: “I can’t believe I went to college so that I can sit here wiping butts all day!” she may lament.

And I hear her. Sometimes being at home with small children of varying verbal and interactive abilities, engaging in the same routines day in and day out, can be mind-numbingly boring. Some days, I find myself expending mental energy on such matters as “Which Disney Princess looks the prettiest when I mix and match their princess gowns, Mommy? No, Mommy, not Aurora! It has to be Belle!”

Sometimes I wish for more intelligent, adult interaction in my life. And I’ll admit that I’ve been known to mutter under my breath “I have a Master’s Degree! I’ll be damned if I’m going to be yelled at by some two-and-a-half foot tall tyrant that wants her toast burned but not brown! WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!” But I’ve got to be honest: I don’t regret the time and money I spent on my education for a second.

Here’s why:

  1. Research Skills. My extra years of schooling provided me ample opportunities to hone my research skills, and thank goodness for it. As a mom, I have found myself in countless situations where my questions outnumber my answers and my need for information is real and immediate. For example, if it were not for my impeccable research skills, I may never have known that my baby may have had ketotic hypoglycemia. I mean, he didn’t--it ended up just being a little tummy bug, but WHAT IF?! Okay, so maybe I should lay off the WebMD, but as my kids are getting older, it’s not just my questions that need answers. When my five-year old comes to me needing to know how big the biggest komodo dragon ever measured was, I need to feel confident in my ability to find him that answer. Thanks to my Master’s Degree, I do! Alright, fine, so you don’t need a Master’s Degree to use Google and yes, it’s true that even my kids know how to ask Siri a question, so...Moving on!  

  2. Bragging Rights. I am not the kind of person who would ever just casually work into a conversation that I have an advanced degree. But...I get a little thrill when my Caller ID reveals Unknown Number. It might be a political campaign volunteer who wants MY informed, well-educated opinion! And if it is, the volunteer may ask me demographical questions! And if he does, I’ll get to answer “More than a 4-year degree” when he asks about my college experience! And when I do, he’ll be super impressed! Right? RIGHT?! Come on, at least pretend to be impressed! Damn it. And that was my only adult interaction today.

  3. Informed Judgement. I wrote my Master’s Thesis on the identification of gifted learners and the educational environments that are best suited to meet their unique social and academic challenges. Because of my background in this subject, when that intolerable playgroup mom starts expressing her concerns that the local school system may not be able to adequately challenge her child (who, by the way, is only nine months old, but who is clearly on the Gifted track--I mean just look at her! She’s practically walking and have you noticed how much she loves chewing on books?!), I can roll my eyes With Authority. Hmm. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that one out loud...

  4. How about this: Even though I graduated over a decade ago, I still get to relive my college experience Every. Single. Month...when I mail in my Student Loan payment. Ugh. Nope. That’s totally not it.

Lesson Learned:

So maybe I’m not putting either of my degrees into daily use at this stage of my life. I still don’t regret them and I’m sure there’s a good reason out there why I don’t. Maybe it’s simply the fact that earning a dual degree was a personal achievement that I’m proud to have attained.

Maybe someday I’ll want to re-enter the professional field I left when I became a stay-at-home-mom. Or maybe I’ll just use the degrees and my work and life experience to build my resume and try out a new career. Or maybe I’ll keep writing while my kids are napping, get discovered by someone who wants to pay me to sit at home and write, and I’ll never have to wear Teacher Clothes ever again!!

A girl can dream, can’t she?

2 comments :

  1. My wife is having much the same pain as you describe here. Not helping is the dual pressure from society that says that staying at home is wasting your life, yet that going out and working is abandoning your children. The key, I think is in defining your own way of being awesome and not letting anyone tell you that you aren't.

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  2. You and I were trained to teach children. Isn't that what we do each day, all day? We are doing exactly what we were meant to do.

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