Saturday, January 11, 2014

there is value in motherhood. just look at my children.

A new semester started this week. It's going to be a doozy as I have four classes this term. I am also getting over a nasty head cold that managed to damper my happy first-day-back-at-school spirit.

What would I be without a plug for sympathy on occasion? Anyway.....

Today was my first class of Rhetorical Communication. It is a writing course but before we write we make speeches.

Make speeches, you say?

Why, yes, that IS what I said. Making speeches? For grades? Yes please.

As a mother who nags people to death makes speeches on a regular basis I figure I am made for this class.

So, as part of today's class, we were given an essay and told to evaluate it. The essay was written by a woman who put herself through university without a student loan or any money from her parents. She compared herself to those who were put through school by their parents and how spoiled they were and how their grades weren't as good as hers because she sacrificed for a greater cause and they didn't. She pleaded with all parents to not give money to spoiled, entitled teenagers and to make their kids put themselves through school.

It was a silly essay.

And in this essay, the writer goes on to say that she married in college and is now a full time mother. She also said she was grateful for the life lessons learned.

We were asked to say whether we were persuaded by her arguments one way or another and what it was that persuaded us. A debate ensued as to whether it's better to pay your own way through school or to accept funds from parents to lighten your load. We talked about her tone, her diction and her voice. The debate was excellent, many persuasive and differing points were made.

And then the prof said this, "What I don't understand, as a non-mother, is why on earth anyone would work so hard to get a degree, getting all As along the way, just to become a mother."

Now, deep in my soul, in the innermost reasonable recesses of my rational being, I know she did not mean this the way she said it. But, nonetheless, I had no choice to but say something. After all, this class is about persuasive speech. It's about making people see another side. It's about persuading others into another realm of thought.

I didn't even raise my hand. I just spoke.

I don't remember now what I said exactly but I am fully aware of the point I wanted to make and that is this:

The article never said what her life's ambitions were. Whether they were to become a mother, working or stay at home, or if her priorities changed along the way. The article never said what her degree was in because that wasn't the point she was trying to make. I assume. She had a goal. Get a degree. She got it . She wanted to get good grades. So she got them. She had to do it all on her own without financial aid from anyone. So she did. That is what she chose to do.

And then she got married and had babies. Her choice. She chose to be home with them. These were her priorities at the time.

So these were my questions to my prof, and the rest of the class:

Did staying home with her children devalue her degree? (I sure as heck hope not!) Does her choice to get a degree and then have children devalue her commitment to her own personal education and further learning? (Please tell me that can not be so!)

Did she waste her time getting an education during the years when she either didn't want to or wasn't ready to have children knowing that when the children came she would stay home with them? (The answer to this will never make sense in my head if it is a yes. And this is certainly not what I am trying to teach to my daughters and sons.)

Would she have been more of a woman if she'd never had children?  Or if she'd worked with her degree regardless of the children? (No. No. No. No.)


Look people, we all make our choices and everyone's choices are worthy when there are children involved and education as well. We do those things because we see value in them.

How many people do you know received a degree in something and proceeded to work in jobs where that specific degree was not required? Why does your specific university degree have to dictate the choices you make for the rest of your life? Why can't it be one of the elements that make up the whole? The YOU! 

Why can't a woman get a degree, have children and allow that degree to better their lives in whatever way she chooses?

Well I say she can.

Just like I can understand and appreciate why a childless woman, who openly acknowledges that fact that she chose career over babies, might not understand why putting a career on hold or off to the side for a time to be with children might be just as valuable a decision as believing having a career is.

The choices people make with their lives, their educations and their children have to be their own. And that has to be okay with me and everyone else, otherwise we would spend all our time disappointed with the choices of others or not feeling good enough about the choices we make ourselves.

So, to my prof, I sweetly implied that her choices included much education and no children. And I am fine with that. My choices included full time motherhood and education and possibly a future career and I am fine with my choices, as I hope she might also be. Both of our choices have held value in our society. We both contribute. Is there less value in my contributions because they look different than hers?

Nope. Of course not.

And then I was done.

Had it not been a course based on the premise of argument I probably wouldn't have said anything (okay, yes I would have said something) but when you make it clear that class participation is a large part of the grade and then you push my stay-at-home-mom button I will gladly bring forth my side of the argument.

It was glorious. But, of course, like I said, I know that's not what she meant......

When class was done, she did approach me to apologize and to make sure I understood she was not trash talking moms. Of course, I understand. I am a big girl. I can appreciate the difference of opinions and that maybe those opinions are not expressed appropriately all the time. (I just thought that last part in my head, not out loud.)

I mean really, who wants to tick off the prof on the first day?

Not me. Heaven forbid.


  1. It's interesting how difficult it can be to understand other people's choices. I resemble the women in the article a lot. I worked hard to get good grades and (though I did receive some assistance from my parents) put myself through years of school and now stay home with my kids. I think a lot of people have trouble understanding my choices, but they are mine, and I am happy with them.

  2. Oh holy hell that makes me irritated... But I find the best learning experiences are when people believe their are speaking to like-minded people and suddenly find out they are not. I hope she enjoyed her learning experience :)

  3. Sounds like a fun class! Sometimes the choices we end up making are never the ones we thought we would

  4. I'm exactly that woman your prof was talking about. I worked my buns off for 4 years to get my university degree, then I worked in my field for a few years, then I became, and still am, a stay at home mom. My degree was a ticket to my choices in life. I will never regret it, nor will I regret staying at home with my babies. We can do and have it all, but not at the same time. Maybe one day I will return to my degree, maybe not, but I have it and it's mine, and I'm damn proud of both of my choices. Amen. :)

  5. I have a Chemical Engineering degree with a Minor in Marketing and I quit my job to stay at home and work part time in social media. People often ask me if I feel like I'm "wasting" my degree. Nope. i paid for it and I passed but I HATE it with the passion of a million burning suns. Seriously. If you made me do chemical engineering I would cry every day and be so evil that you wouldn't want to know me much less be around me. It is hard to see people's choices for what they are but we shouldn't question them. People change and grow over the years and most life choices are just that....choices and we should keep our traps shut. Now if someone has decided to dump their degree and dig through garbage cans, then, yes, we can ask if they need help but

  6. I went to university to get an education, not just a piece of paper (or 2, as it turned out) and I use the lessons I learned during my time there, or touch base with friends I made there - like my husband - or connect with people who also went there probably every day. You are so right in that what a university degree gives us is more choices and all choices are valuable. I am glad you tried to persuade her.

  7. So does your prof think that women who want to be full-time mothers should not bother getting an education? That's pretty archaic thinking. Most of my university courses were more about critical thinking and less about "getting a job" although many jobs do require a piece of paper of some sort. Who knows what path life will take for mothers who choose to stay at home with their kids? I'm meeting a lot of single moms these days who need to re-enter the work force because of life circumstances outside of their control and find that their dusty old degree is coming in handy for their job search.

  8. I loved every word of this and it altered my way of thinking about a few other things as well.

  9. I hope you get an A. You are going to ROCK this class.

  10. I love hearing about your college experiences. I am still trying to get my undergrad degree after 35 years. There have been lots of years devoted to full time mothering. Now I am back at school and I love it. I will most likely be too old to start a career by the time I finish but the goal remains

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