Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In Praise of Motherhood

Recently I read a blog post about feelings of inadequacy that got me thinking about some of my own insecurities. One of which hinges on the fact that I haven't completed my senior year of college (yet) and I haven't been a student since 1998. I have 36 credit hours left to finish. I have thought about going back on and off for years but the timing hasn't been right. Two years ago I even reapplied and was going to take my final classes online. Then I got the tuition payment and couldn't go through with it. I've come to the realization that my season will come, and when it does I will have the money and time to do it and get it done.

I don't usually think much about it, but there are those occasions when I feel like a complete and utter failure. It doesn't last long, but it happens. There are two questions on most surveys that really get me. One is your age range... I've just moved into another bracket, depending on the survey design. The other is highest level of education completed. I always have to mark some. I try to remind myself that what I am doing right now is what I have always wanted to do, but I still feel like I have left something important undone and that the person reading the survey is shaking their head at my incompetence. I am married to a doctor for heavens sake, shouldn't I have some credentials to make me worthy of being with him? Ridiculous thought, I know.

A few years ago I read a wonderful book by Jane Clayson Johnson, formerly a national television anchor, who left her job when she became a mother. The title was "I Am A Mother".  In it she talks about hearing women describe who they are as "I used to be such and such, but now I am just a mother". Her point is that there is nothing "just" about being a mother. That the role of a mother is suffering from negative perceptions by the very people who are engaged in that life-long occupation.

I find myself doing the same thing. I used to be an Operations Manager for a national bank making more than my doctor husband does right now. (That part I do find ironic). I used to have a paycheck with benefits and vacation time. Why does what I did over 6 years ago make any difference now? What am I trying to prove to anyone or myself? I know that what I am doing right now does make a difference. That even though there is no monetary compensation, no benefits, no expense account, no paid time off, I wouldn't trade my responsibilities now for any of that. It was my choice to stop working when we had children.

Do I have regrets? YES. I wish that I would have buckled down and finished school during the season that was allotted to me more than a decade ago. Instead I made a few wrong turns along the way, got sidetracked, was blinded by a good job, other responsibilities and experiences that helped shape my character and my desires. I don't regret starting a family the same year we were married. I don't  regret giving up a paycheck when we didn't have one. I don't regret having the number of children that we do as close together as we do. There isn't anything about the way my life has turned out that I regret. Not ever.

I may be a mother, but I will never be "just" a mother to anyone. To my husband and children I am engaged in the most important work that they, and I, will ever benefit from. I am proud of what I do. I think I do my job well (most days). I know my family will be blessed by my commitment to motherhood. And I also believe that one day I will finish my education and then some if I want. Because a mother can do anything. She is the closest thing to a superhero the world has ever known.

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