I write this from the perspective of an honors and activities galore, working college graduate, who has turned into a snot covered — my hair hasn’t seen a brush in days — lives off chicken nuggets and mac ‘n cheese stay-at-home-mom.
What a life change, let me tell ya. Man, oh man, did I struggle with it.
Even though I don’t get up every day and leave the house to interact with other professional working adults, exercise my brain, or even put on pants that aren’t leggings and/or pajamas most days, it does not mean I’m withering away. It sure doesn’t mean I am wasting the years I spent working my tail off in college. Think of it more as a willingly done, semi-permanent career change with no apparent end in sight.
My brain may be toddler mush currently, my heart may now skip a beat with excitement at every tractor/bus/semi I see (boy moms unite!), but that doesn’t undermine the years I spent learning. Education is empowering. Education is life changing! Even though I don’t currently work a 9 to 5, it doesn’t mean I’m wasting my degree. College taught me how to converse properly with those I don’t necessarily agree with (e.g., toddlers and sometimes my husband – sorry, honey), how to be open to communicate, analyze, persevere (potty training, sleep training, all the trainings), and most importantly how to work hard for something I believe in.
I may not have my hard-earned degree hanging behind a desk, but that doesn’t mean that I’m wasting it. I didn’t waste those years learning. I didn’t waste anything.
I never wanted to stay home, but here I am. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be where I am in life right now and I wouldn’t change my position if I could. (And if you told 18-year-old me this, she would’ve rolled her eyes at you and laughed, I’m sure). Working moms have my upmost respect because I simply don’t know if I could handle the mental load of work, life, wife and mama day in and day out – you moms ROCK! If you’re a mom headed back to school, know that what you are doing is important, valued, and brave and don’t let anyone tell you any different.
I may not get paid money for the job I have now, but I get paid in slobbery kisses, belly laughs, tantrums and tears. That doesn’t mean I don’t reminisce about the years I spent exercising my brain, conversing with intellectuals, and feeling like I was accomplishing something. There are plenty of days I sit and wonder how different my life would be if I had a career to turn to every morning. My days now are longer; harder in some ways and easier in others.
It took me too long to come to the realization that I am accomplishing something now, too.
If you are in this boat with me, I hope you can see this too. We are raising tiny humans. The next generation. The future. We accomplished something when we received those diplomas. Don’t ever let that be diminished. I know I have mine on the backburner right now, and I’m okay with that. I’m not wasting it; I’m simply doing something different. My lifetime of learning hasn’t stopped; it’s just that the topics have changed. I know I’ll have it to fall back on, I know I’ll have it today, tomorrow, when my kids are 25 and even 50. My kids will have that degree in a box when I’m dead and gone. What I won’t have five, ten, or 15 years from now are chubby baby toes, giggles galore, half-eaten meals, sleepless nights, and laundry up to my ears. You aren’t wasting your degree in these few, or many, years you decide to stay home with your babies. Let that self-created guilt go and definitely ignore the guilt that others try to place on you.