Once upon a time I had two “friends” who were pretty obsessed with making snide remarks about women who don’t work; as in, being a mom was not a “real” job. They would brag about their Bachelors degrees in healthcare and nursing, while making backhanded comments about people who don’t hold a college degree. People like me. Don’t worry. They never had the nerve to DIRECTLY insult me, but these would pop up in our conversations, and it certainly stuck with me.
I am surrounded (literally) by successful people. My best friends are career women. They are a combination of lawyers, doctors, a nursing student, and a CPA. Slap dab in the middle of all that is me. The underachiever. I’ve spent years thinking maybe I’m just lazy, but I don’t think that’s actually true. I work REALLY hard….For things I want. When I want something, I have a drive like no other to get it. A college degree just doesn’t happen to be at the top of that list right now.
While it’s true that I don’t have a degree, that doesn’t mean that I’m not successful.
A college degree isn’t a measurement of intelligence or the sole measurement for success. I chose not to work. Some people are able to do a great job at parenting AND working. I am not.
Please don’t tell me I could be if I REALLY wanted to be. No, I could not, and that’s okay.
I am very self-aware, and I’m good at knowing what my strengths and weaknesses are. I am only able to pour into my kids the way I do because I don’t work. Yes, I would love to have a college degree, but for no reason other than to say “I did that,” and to make all the naysayers shut up.
It isn’t something I actually want to use though. Not right now. That’s a lot of money to spend on something I have no plans for. Of course, that could change, but right now that isn’t what I want.
At one point I was writing college papers for other people; some who have gone on to do far bigger things with their lives than I have, and I’m okay with that. At a certain point, what I wanted to succeed at doing shifted from a career, to a family. That’s what I knew would bring me the most joy.
Yes, without a college degree my life has been harder. There are less opportunities for me. I don’t get the same respect from people when I say “I’m a stay at home mom” that I would get if I said “I’m a physician” because all people see is someone that doesn’t have a job. If you’re one of those, spare me.
For these reasons and a plethora of others I will, without a doubt, encourage my children to do what my husband and I didn’t; to finish college. I don’t want them to see how good they have it, and think it was easy to do that without a higher level of education because it wasn’t. My husband has had to work ten times as hard as someone with a degree to get to where he is. Our story is the exception. Not the rule.
I had a conversation with one of my brothers one time, and he gave me a nice laugh. He told me he envied my success! I’m a 35 year old stay-at-home mom who hasn’t worked in almost eight years, and I don’t hold any kind of degree. He has a degree in sociology, and he’s been a Marine for more than 20 years. According to our society, I’m not succeeding at all, and he is. So I said to him “What success? I don’t have a career.”
Then he broke it down for me…
There are different kinds of success.
He is a career Marine with accolades, but on the flip side he is divorced, unhappy, with children that bear the scars of a divorce, and a father that made poor personal choices. My home life, on the other hand, is not just stable, it’s happy (knock on wood). My kids are happy, thriving and secure. That in itself is a success.
My marriage is also a blessing and a point of success in my life. But, I didn’t just wake up with a happy marriage. I chose well, and as someone who has chosen horribly more times than I will publicly admit, I will gladly claim this one. I chose a phenomenal husband that is better than I will ever be.
And what about my children? They aren’t just magically happy, intelligent, well-spoken, and athletically talented. We did that. I have poured every last breath, my sweat, and my tears into my kids.
Some would say I am trying to make them into what I never was.
Guess what? You’re right. I am trying to make sure they are better students than I was. I am trying to teach them be more committed athletes than I was. As a mother, you always want your children to be better than you. My son is a better student than I ever was, and my eldest daughter is a better athlete than I ever was. I love nothing more than seeing my children outdo me. It is an honor that they have a sense of security that I never did because I know that that is something I gave them.
I’m happily married with three children, and I know more people than I can count that wish they had that. I read two books a week, I love all things literature and education, and anything that dives into the human psyche. I’m intelligent, well-spoken and well-read, and I have an amazing BIG life. That is what I wanted. That’s what I worked really hard for. That is success to me.
So to those friends that were mean-spirited and thought themselves so much better than me, I hope you are enjoying all of your success. I am certainly enjoying mine.