I met an old friend for dinner last week whom I hadn’t seen in thirteen years. As we were catching up, she asked me why I wasn’t using the degrees I earned (BA in English and a Master’s in Secondary Education) to work outside the home. She asked me if it was my choice to stay at home, or if it was my husband’s idea. She said that I was so “into education” that she couldn’t believe I wasn’t using my degrees. For that matter, come to think of it, neither could I!
Motherhood was not something I initially embraced, nor was it an easy role for me to succumb to. In fact, having one child rocked my world so completely that I decided I wouldn’t have another. It took me some time and intense struggling to see its rewards. At first I stayed home because I couldn’t figure out how to manage working outside the home, being a mom and a wife, and maintaining a home all at once. These were tasks that I most certainly didn’t learn how to do in school. I soon realized, however, that I was the pivot upon which my family rested, and came to embrace parenting my ten-year-old son Max. I even bought a mini-van and volunteered to be classroom mom, surrendering to my fate! I love being Max’s mom now and am proud of it.
I am here for my boy when he wakes up and goes to bed. I am here for him when he comes home from school to hear about his day. I am here for him to drive him to baseball, and Hebrew school and to hear him practice piano. I am here to pack his lunch and walk him to school every morning. I am here to read Harry Potter books with him and watch the movies. I am his biggest advocate (and am here to cheer him on) and his harshest critic (and sternly discipline him when he does something wrong). I am here to teach him how to be a good person.
But he has taught me so much more. My son has taught me about responsibility and how to be a grown-up. He has taught me about trust and kindness and sharing, and not yelling (which I still do at times). He has taught me how to rediscover the joy in boogie boarding, sledding, roller-coaster riding and just plain silliness that only a ten-year-old can conjure. Mostly, he has taught me how to give and receive a type of unconditional love that I never knew or thought was possible. He has taught me the importance of keeping myself well so that I can be the kind of me and mother that he deserves. He has taught me how to be the best person I can be. For that, I am truly grateful and wouldn’t change a thing. The degrees will still be there when he is grown!
By Judy Kroll