Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Continuing Education

You know, for a long time I felt guilty that I really wasn't using my education for anything that useful. I mean, really, I worked so hard all during high school and college to make good grades and pad my resume with all sorts of wonderful experiences. But for what? To play pat-a-cake and dress up for pretend tea-parties? Don't get me wrong, there is nothing more than I wanted than to be a stay at home mom and do those things. I just find it interesting that women are so groomed to be competitive in school and the work force, but are left feeling sort of confused when they encounter motherhood and realize that in all their studies and testing, they did not learn one iota about what it means to run a household or be a mom.

Motherhood is something most women long for, yet feel so under prepared when they get there. Sure, instinct kicks in for a lot of things, but so many things it doesn't. I can't tell you how many of my smart, competitive friends got so frustrated with themselves because they couldn't breastfeed. They felt like failures when it really had nothing to do with their level or determination or commitment. Why is that? We are taught that with most things in life if your work hard enough, you can succeed. But motherhood is not like that.  For example, we have been working for so long on getting Mary Lawrence to listen and obey the first time we tell her to do something. Every day is a battle,  and every day it just doesn't seem to get any easier. I get screaming tantrums instead of "yes mommy, I'll get in the bath now." And with the feeding thing, I work so hard, yet it never gets any easier or better.  I am sure it will, but results are not as immediate as with other things in life.

But having said all that, while school does not help us at all with some of the important responsibilities of being a mother, it has helped me in several ways that remind me that my education was totally worth it.  For one, this former history major has used her research skills to aid in finding out more info about all the medical issues plaguing her family, in order to find the right questions to ask her doctor and make sure nothing is falling through the cracks. And I've really had to tap into my persuasive skills when our insurance refuses to pay for certain things.

Another thing is managing our crazy schedules. I finally switched over from my paper day planner to Outlook so everything is also in my phone. (I have even color coded each child and all their appointments).  I have taken over responsibility for all our medical billing and insurance stuff. We probably get 5-10 letters a day regarding this stuff- no joke. No one tells you that when you have a sick child that one-fifth of your day will consist of phone calls and bill paying related to this stuff. Yesterday I felt like I was in college again because I went to Starbucks with my huge bag full of folders and stayed for a few hours. But I was not studying for a big exam like the other students. No, I was filing and typing letters and making phone calls all in regards to Maggie's health stuff. I think that doing it while sipping coffee and people watching makes it a little fun actually:).

Furthermore, it sounds so dumb, but I really think being able to carry on an intelligent conversation with all these doctors make them respect you more and really listen to what you are saying. It's like some of them take you more seriously when you say something half-intelligent. Funny because several times I've been asked where I went to school. "Oh that's great," they say when I tell them, "What do you do now?"'re looking at it...

So all you moms out there that may be feeling that you're education was completely wasted, be encouraged. You are using your education when you don't even know it. I no longer feel embarrassed about saying what I do. Because I am truly using the skills I learned in school to make my family's life better and more enriched. Sure, the baby years are tough. But I look forward to sharing my learned love of art and museums and culture with my children as they get older. I love sharing my love for the library and bookstore (yes, I am a nerd).  I hope that my background in history and french will be of some use to them in the future. And I look forward to nightly homework sessions (again, Justin will confirm that I am a dork because I really do like homework).

But having said all of that, in closing this totally waste of time essay on my life, I would suggest that schools bring back 'Home EC.' Maybe it's sexist, I don't know, but I do believe I would have truly benefited from learning how to sew on a button or how to manage bath/dinner/cleanup/children's fussy time all while staying composed and looking pretty like June Cleaver. Those things would really be helpful in my life right now....

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