Sunday, July 19, 2009

Advanced Degree in Motherhood

On Friday, I traveled with my parents and the kiddos to LaCrosse to watch my younger sister receive her Master's degree in Education. I'm so happy for her--she worked hard, she sacrificed a lot, and as I watched her receive her degree on Friday, I couldn't have been prouder of her.

It's funny...I always thought I was going to be the first in my family to earn an advanced degree. After all, I was the first to earn a Bachelor's, and while I was in college, my long-term goal was to earn a Doctorate in Spanish and become a college professor. My plan was to teach for a few years and earn my Master's while I taught, and then when I had saved up some money, I would go back to school and get my PhD. Then I would find a job teaching Spanish at some university somewhere, travel all over the place, write books, and finally retire to a tiny fishing village in Mexico.

But sometimes things don't turn out as planned. Life happens. I tried teaching for two years and ended up not liking it much at all. Instead of starting coursework for my Master's, I decided to go down another path--take the LSAT and apply to law school to study immigration law. I took the LSAT, placed in the top 10% in the nation, and applied and was accepted to the UW Law School. Before I started, though, I decided to become a mom instead. Soon, I had Grace and became a single mother, and I was more focused on earning a living than I was about furthering my education.

There are times when I think about going back to school, and I probably will after Harrison starts kindergarten (to pursue a degree in Nursing), but right now I just can't imagine trying to keep up with all of the housework and the kids and possibly a full-time job while heaping schoolwork on top of it all. My long-term goal is now a distant memory, replaced instead by the reality of raising children and managing a household.

My mom asked me on Friday if I was sad at all that I didn't have my Master's yet. After all, she knows better than anyone that, at one point in my life at least, I couldn't earn it fast enough. But, as I looked at my kids I knew for certain that I wouldn't have things any other way. I am a mom, and I can't imagine doing anything more important than that. I may not have the alphabet soup behind my name, but I have more treasures in my life than I ever imagined I would have. Happiness is my reward.

But I'm still planning to retire to that tiny fishing village in Mexico...


Carrie said...

I know EXACTLY how you feel. For me, I'm surprised that I have not written a novel yet by the age of 35. And sometimes it's hard to watch moms who had only 1 kid send their babies off to kindergarten and have their days free to pursue their own dreams. I can't JUST blame my kids -- I had years of adult life before they came along when I could have devoted more time to this part of my life -- but I do understand that life is about choices and I'm pretty happy with the three little choices sleeping under our roof (one on my lap) right now.

lwwb said...

I don't think being a mother really delayed what youu planned. My plans of being an astonomer, or foreign service officer or a hot shot business woman was derailed way before I decided to have children. It is part of life with or without kids, that the path you thought will have differ from the path you took. Things change with or without kids.

Bert said...

What a beautiful post! Thanks for reminding the world that motherhood is precious and important.

P.S. I will totally visit you in that Mexican village.

Sara said...

bert--we'll keep some margaritas cold for you guys.