Let me tell you a secret...
I was sitting on the floor in the living room, disoriented by the words that were circling around me. We were all talking about social justice and civil rights and there were some people amongst us who were very well versed on the topic - history, statistics, you name it. The words that were being thrown around weren’t specifically directed at me, but I felt the gravity of them. What was being said was important - different opinions and experiences expressed through tears was a sobering reality. However the weight with which the words were being spoken and the intelligence that was being showcased were making me work hard to understand the actual content that was being discussed. Put simply, big words, long words, multi-syllabled words were being thrown around left and right and I literally wanted to shrink away into a hole with other people who didn’t understand what was being said. (There in our hole, we’d probably all just chuckle at fart jokes and talk about The Bachelor). I could follow along with the conversation, and understand the point that was being made, but it took A LOT of effort.
I’m a stay at home mom. I haven’t worked outside of the home in almost 7 years. Before that I was a preschool teacher at a daycare center. For the past decade, most of my days have revolved around children, and although it’s challenging in its own way, I have loved it. But my brain has been multitasking so heavily for the past 4 or 5 years that sometimes I can’t even remember why I opened the door to the pantry, or why I went into the boys room (usually the answer is goldfish crackers and underwear). In conversation, I’ll often pause for a good few seconds, desperately scanning my brain for the right word to fit into a sentence, and often not finding the one that I know exists. I lose my coffee at least once a day. I have to set an alarm to remind myself to pick up my kids from school. Both of them. I also set a reminder for our twice weekly street cleaning. I literally don’t trust myself to remember to do the simplest of tasks. I think that multitasking has literally killed a bunch of my brain cells and that’s what causes me to be so forgetful, but I'm no scientist.
I often wonder what has become of me - I’ve spent a huge portion of my life explaining and simplifying things for tiny humans, and now I’ve lost the ability to articulate and misplaced the vocabulary that I once had. This is often where my insecurity creeps in. I don’t want people to think of me as uneducated or stupid, so I avoid situations where that could be exposed. Even now, I’m hesitant to write about my lack of qualification for fear of exposing my inadequacies as a writer. No degree, no certification, nothing. Yet here I am. Yes, I have years of childcare experience. Yes, I have taught sweet, cute, amazing children many things over the years. Yes, we have a good time playing, building and creating.
But that’s my dirty little secret: I don’t have a degree.
I went to school thinking that I’d graduate with a degree in communications and a job in advertising (boy, did I get that wrong). I landed a job working at the preschool and didn’t pursue my degree because I already had a job that I loved. Why did I need to get a degree? I feel like today’s culture is saying:
- You need to get the degree because you need to finish what you started.
- You need to get a degree so that you can fall back on it after raising kids for years.
- You need to get a degree because you need to make more money.
- You need a degree because, feminism.
- You need a degree just in case anything ever happens to Seth.
- You need to get the degree because your future self will be embarrassed that you didn’t.
How many times have I been haunted by the fact that I never finished school? I can’t even begin to tell you. But here’s the thing, I think (for the most part. For now) I’m content with where I am. What would life look like if I had chosen to press on with my education? I may not be married to the amazing man that I call my husband. I may not have a pack of boys at my heels on the daily. I may not be living here in Brooklyn. So, if I look at things that way, I’m pretty dang glad that I didn’t follow through with my communications degree. Yes, I may be able to engage in adult conversation more effortlessly because I'd be working in the city not in the home, but I also may not have all of the other things that make my life mine.
So, in a culture that values education, knowledge and power so much, where the heck do I fit in? Especially in New York City. Degrees are important; don’t get me wrong. I want my kid’s pediatrician to have a degree. I want my politicians to have a degree. I want my accountant to have a degree. I want my therapist to have a degree. I want my lawyer to have a degree. Let’s be honest, I want a degree! But my value and worth aren’t wrapped up in how much I know or what school I went to. They aren’t based on how high my salary is (insert hearty laughter here), or who I’m socially connected to. They aren’t based on where I’ve been or what I know. What matters most is that I’m content with where I am in life, what I’ve done and who I am because I know that I am adored by someone who can fix all of my problems. Someone who will listen when I need to vent and give me great perspective and advice. He calls me Lovely and I call Him Jesus.