Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On Motherhood

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.


  1. Well said! You make proud, Kiddo!


  2. You're showing the world that being a good mother takes as much time and effort as any challenging job requires... that's a pretty significant contribution. Good for you for reaching for the stars and living the dream!

  3. And you are doing a terrific job at all of that...don't let anyone belittle you for it. It IS a significant contribution to society and more's the pity that so many women [and men] fail at parenting.


  4. Where is the 'like' button on here? LOL

    There are too many parents who are slacking in their responsibilities, regardless of whether they work outside the home or not. I agree, the focus should not be on society to raise these kids, but holding parents responsible (and providing tools, where necessary).

  5. I LOVE THIS. Your story (minus the husband and the this point) is mine exactly. Whenever I tell people I want to be a mother, I get blank or pitying looks. The support for and understanding of the role of mother and the amount of dedication, education, and love it takes has tanked alarmingly in the last decades. Along with that diminishing respect for the role of motherhood has come this idea that society - and more particularly the government - is responsible for all those things that parents have a responsibility to teach their kids that you've outlined above. There's more to that attitude than the rise of feminism and working moms - I think Americans as a whole have been externalizing personal responsibility - I think it contributes in large part to it. It makes me so mad that people complain long and loudly about the government's lack of [fill in the blank] re education but don't do jack to promote education in their own children. You can't blame others for something that's your fault.

    I could rant for a long time on this subject, but you said it better so I'll leave it at that.

  6. Occupations I have had: nursery school aide, clerical aide, retail clerk, waitress, full-time school teacher (all the previous jobs lent support to reaching this goal...), administrator of county schools Title IVC grant, stay-at-home mother, administrator of county schools before/after school programs, and child care resource adviser.
    Hardest job I ever did? Make a guess. ;-)