posted by: gretchen
It was a Monday morning. We were getting ready for another grueling school week. The kids were moaning about the injustice of heavy backpacks and state laws.
I told them I went to school and survived. Put your shoes on, spit-spot.
My oldest son asked how many years I spent in school. I told him 20 years—13 years spanning kindergarten through 12th grade and 7 years of college. I waited for the oohs and aahs and hearty congratulations to pour in.
They considered my lengthy sentence for a moment. My son asked if they had to go to college, too.
I said no. They would be adults and it would be their choice. If they wanted good jobs they should attend, however.
“But mom,’ my second-grader noted, ‘You went to college but you don’t have a good job.”
I thought about launching into a defense of stay-at-home motherhood. I am important! Don’t you watch Oprah or read blogs, son? Isn’t my life enough of a shining example of Goodness and Work?
But if I put myself in his shoes, he sees a person who must wipe people and things in a never-ending loop of clockwise motion. He sees a van operator who drives in a similar loop to school and store, sometimes in her pajama bottoms. He loves me and appreciates my cuddles and bedtime prayers and the matching clean socks always at his fingertips. He takes socks seriously. When he’s sick, I pour sports drinks and arrange crackers on a plate. I kiss his forehead. I help him with homework, making sure when I have him spell “creak” it is not the water type. It’s the spooky haunted house floor type.
I didn’t have to go to college to learn any of the above skills.
Were my college years a waste of time, money, effort? It would be easy to argue my semester in Ancient Athletics has not enhanced the lives of my children, my spouse, myself unless I am a future contestant on Jeopardy and the category is Gladiators.
What is a triton and net?
What does my college education mean to my children? Should it mean anything to them?
I am proud I earned a degree and thought of life beyond age 18. High school didn’t kill my love of learning. My parents are going to love hearing this, but I wasn’t necessarily in college to get a good job someday. Otherwise, I would have never majored in English. I went to college partially because I was expected to go. All my friends went to college. I wanted to leave home and assert independence. I felt unfinished.
I still do. I am still learning. My life as a stay-at-home mom isn’t a job. It’s continuing, continuing, always continuing education.
I hope I never graduate.
(photo is my great-grandmother, who had a BS in Social Work and was a mother of 5)