Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

My Masters Degree

on July 23, 2014

Hi everyone, I realize it has been an unforgivably long time since my last post, but I guess life was just happening.

Since we returned from our lovely trip to California, we’ve been full speed ahead with Jeremy’s new quarter for nursing school; it’s his busiest one yet. We have also been coping with a flea infestation that the kitties somehow caught, even though they are indoor-only. I know it can happen, but I wish it hadn’t. We’ve also been getting our life routines back in working order, producing a house cleaning schedule that I can follow on a weekly rotation, as well as a stockpile of slow cooker meals portioned and ready to go in the freezer. All they need is defrosting. Also Stephen had some follow up for his lingering quasi-illness. When he was sick with an infection a couple months ago, his tonsils became inflamed and swollen. Well, even after the infection cleared, his tonsils are still swollen and causing some minor discomfort. An x-ray revealed his adenoids are also swollen, so we are supposed to monitor for breathing obstruction. Plus now he has some kind of viral infection that is making him pathetic.

So, we’ve been up to stuff. But the main reason I’m writing about my masters degree is recently my next door neighbor hired me to clean her house. She, being awesome in many, many ways, admitted that she is not an awesome house cleaner. And she noticed that we are living on a part time income, goodwill, and the grace of God, so she offered to hire me to clean her house. This was very thoughtful of her to do, and I find that I really enjoy the work. Don’t you all get ideas; I don’t think I can handle more clients! But in the midst of some satisfying moderate to difficult labor, I reflected on where I am in life.

Here I am, a homemaker and stay-at-home mom, who is now a hired house cleaner, with a masters degree. Obviously I am not belittling house cleaners, but you don’t need a degree to do it. I am happy doing it, and I am happy being a stay-at-home mom and housewife. Was my degree a waste? Why did I pay for that schooling?

I reflected on these questions, and I know that no, I do not regret getting my masters. If I hadn’t gone to grad school, I would not have met my wonderful husband! I would not have moved to Montana to meet all the wonderful people we knew there. I was employed in the field of my degree for five years. I am still thankful for the knowledge I gained, when my church choir needs a substitute director, or when the community choir I joined needs someone to lead warm up exercises, or when I give a voice lesson. I do not think my degree was wasted. It is entirely possible I will use my degree again later in life, when my children are older.

Some of you may be aware of a movement among professional women centered around the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg. he idea here is for young women to dig in to their careers and to not avoid professional opportunities because they may take a break soon to have kids. Go for the extra projects, gun for the promotion. Then when you leave for maternity time, your boss will be eager to have you back, and you will be less likely to quit after mooning over your newborn, because you have excited projects waiting for you at the office. It sounds fine, but the idea is built on the assumption that young women can have it all, and more than that, that they should have it all.

I’ve given a lot of thought to this, and all I can offer is advice based on my own experience. I had a full-time career, and during my pregnancy I thought ahead to how I would maintain my full-time career and take care of my new baby. After Stephen was born, I quickly quickly discovered that maintaining two lives was absolutely the last thing that I wanted. I couldn’t give either job the attention it deserved. Soon I downsized my career to part-time, ten to fifteen hours per week maximum. Even that was sometimes a strain. My advice is: you don’t need to have it all. Do you want to live your life at a frantic pace, always feeling that you are desperately needed elsewhere, no matter what you are doing? That life sucks. Trust me, I lived it.

Young ladies, decide what your priorities are. If you think you want to have kids, plan to focus on child rearing and don’t count on maintaining a full-time career at the same time. I promise you, unless you are comfortable telecommuting while you breast feed, and funneling nearly your entire paycheck into daycare fees, a full-time career while you raise young children is not worth the heartache. Then, since you know you will take time off a career, decide if you really need that masters degree now. Don’t just go to grad school after college because it’s the next thing to do. Most careers can start with a bachelors degree only. Then you’ll take time off for kids, then maybe you won’t even need to get a higher degree. Or you can get it when the kids are older and you have more time to do stuff for yourself.

I’m not advocating for women being uneducated, or that a woman’s place is in the home, or any of that. I’m advocating that a woman who feels that her main job will be raising a family should be free to choose that without having to defend her decision to forego higher education and a high powered career track.

Consider it, and save yourself the cash you will shell out to pay for a degree you won’t use for twelve years. Use that time and money to get a head start on your family, and go back to school when you and your children can really afford it. I did my schooling all back to back, and while it is true that I do  not regret that choice because of the positive outcomes, there are lots of routes to a fulfilling life and you should be aware of what you ultimately want from your life before you choose the way you want to go.

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One response to “My Masters Degree

  1. Helen says:

    It is truth. Every word that you said. Children are our future! How can we be sure about our future if we don’t have time for our kids? Someone else rises your child while you making money… Is that American understanding to be successful?

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