Last night's State of the Union address was filled with promises to better our country. We were told we must take on certain issues and problems to ensure our children are better educated, to reduce illegal immigration, and shrink our debt. We must make sure all of our offspring are able to go to college at an affordable rate so they can then go out into the world, get a fantastic job, and make a remarkable and significant contribution to society, preferably in the fields of math and science. We were told of education reform and higher graduation standards. And yet, I ask, why are we still asking society to raise up the next generation instead of equipping parents to do so?
Growing up in the 1990s, we were all told to "reach for the stars." Dream big, achieve big. We could do anything we wanted when we grew up. And should. Teachers, parents, and TV told us that the perfect family was one where both parents worked, and everyone was busy all the time. The fact that women had the right to work equally alongside men meant that society had the right to expect them to do so. When I was asked what I wanted to "be" when I grew up, I once answered "a mother." The look I received in response said "You poor thing" and "Who damaged your self esteem that badly?" at the same time. "Who in the world has made you think that the only thing in life you could accomplish was to be a mother?" From then on I replied to the What do You Want to Be question with, "I don't know yet," because the desire to be a quality wife and mother meant I needed therapy to discover and repair the damage done my self worth.
In college I had the opportunity to job shadow someone in my "future profession" for extra credit. While I did not need the additional points added to my grade, as an over-achiever I decided to go for it anyway. (After all, you just never know about that next test grade. You might have to take it while sick with the flu.) We were to spend an entire working day with a professional and write a paper on our findings. I spent the day with the mother of one of my high school friends. Very few people completed the task, so those of us who did were asked to share what we learned with the class. Had we changed our minds? Were we still going to graduate from the same degree program? When asked to introduce myself and my paper I stood in front of my peers and said, "I am Rachel Cook. I am a music major, and I spent the day with a full-time mother." My philosophy professor was rather surprised. " But what are you going to do with your degree," he asked.
What do I do with my degree? The degree I earned with honors. What about all of those "non-degree related" classes I took for fun? (After all, it's really not necessary to take 23 hours of class every semester and two full summer terms for four years. But when else would I have had the chance to learn so much neat stuff?) I worked to support my husband for two years so he could further his education. I have taught nearly 30 children how to play the piano. I taught children to apply the Socratic Method to music. I am a well-educated and well-spoken member of society. And now, I am a mother. I teach my child to love God with all of his heart, with all of his soul, and with all of his might. I show him how to love his neighbor as himself. I discipline my child so he will know how to behave as a respectable member of society once he leaves childhood. I do my best to model wise financial decisions so a future generation does not have to live in debt. I will instill a love of education to ensure my child will find something he loves and learn to do it well, whether that be an automotive mechanic or a mechanical engineer. I am making a small, but significant, contribution to society while making sure that my child grows "in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:52)
The scholar after graduating with a Master's Degree with a very little Little Man.