Friday, October 7, 2011

The "Mommy" Degree

Eight years ago, my husband and I made a decision for me to not return to work and instead stay home with our then 2 year old daughter. We had just relocated to Okinawa Japan and I had spent the last 3 years working at an inner city high school in Kansas City. Jim had been at EWS in Quantico, so life had just been very crazy. I was so happy to just be able to concentrate on being a mommy and a wife. We had wonderful new friends and just when I thought life couldn't get any better, I found out I was pregnant. 2 months later, Jim left for Iraq and we began our first deployment. Okinawa was the revolving door of TAD assignments for Jim; but that didn't stop us from becoming pregnant with baby #3. As I watched my babies begin and continue to grow, I slowly realized that my life was changing in ways I had not imagined nor in ways I had planned. I found myself seeing my hard -earned college degree slipping further and further into the background of diapers and bottles; sippy cups and toys.
I found myself thinking and wondering what happened to my 10 year after college plan? You know, the one that said I was going to go to teach for a few years, then go to graduate school, then get married and start a family and one day get to law school. I was going to be the all around well balanced woman, the mom with a career, shuffling everyone off to the school bus before I totally wowed the legal world in my designer suits and high heels. Instead, I found myself trying to get stains out of my T-shirts, throwing my hair up in a ponytail AGAIN and wondering if I was ever going to sleep through the night or eat a hot meal again. Being married to a Marine also made things interesting as the revolving door of various assignments became a steady factor in our lives as well.
I was for a time very resentful of many things that were part of being a stay-at-home mom. I loved and obviously still do love all my amazing children; but really?? I had worked HARD in high school and college..DAMN hard. I had a great time, yes and I partied with the best of them (sometimes, I marvel at the fact I made it out of college alive!) but I still drug my butt to every 8 am class, turned in every paper, spent the hours of research in the library for the dozens of history classes I was taking; and even went to a 6-9pm lab every Thursday for a BIO class. What was I doing with my life now??! I mean, seriously, how many episodes of Barney and Thomas the Tank Engine was I going to have to endure?!
Well, as time passed and the years went by, the doubts began to clear and the answers became more and more obvious. Reagan went from being 2 years old to 11 in the blink of an eye. Her caring and compassion for her friends and family inspires me everyday. Tyler has a never-ending desire to constantly learn and excel at everything he does. Jonathan has the most natural comedic personality I've ever seen. He keeps us all laughing all the time! They are all vibrant, healthy and excited about life. We pack them up and move them from one state to another every 3-4 years and they never miss a beat. New schools, new friends and new routines.  They just adjust and adapt and continue with life.
I have come to realize that while our decision for me to stay home has certainly come with some sacrifices, it has also given me the ability to teach and to inspire them; to shape them and prepare them for the future ahead and to build a foundation of skills I hope they continue to use throughout life. Most importantly, however I have come to realize that they inspire me and teach me more than any college degree or career ever could!

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