Thursday, March 6, 2014

A wasted degree

I just got a call from a my alumni school. One of the questions they asked was whether or not I am employed. My answer was no. Technically, I own my own “business” and I have a unique product but haven’t pushed it in the recent year or two since I have other priorities. I contemplated calling back after I hung up to change my position on employment, because I am not a waste of my degree.

Recently there has been so much discussion about women, their rights and roles and their limitations in the workforce and even in my church. I feel it important as a mother and as a leader of the young women in my church to understand these varying viewpoints, whether or not I agree with them. When the call from the school where I received my Associate Degree came I was in the middle of reading a few articles and blog posts on the subject. 

There are many reasons I do this. One is to be understanding; another is to not teach in the old way with the old stigma and the old ideas. Is there something wrong with the old way? Well, I firmly believe God’s way is right. Right now our loving Heavenly Father has given us a “new” way to teach and I'm doing my best at it.  The “old” way certainly has its issues introduced by what I assume are well meaning individuals who can’t possibly foresee all the ways their good intentions will be misconstrued and torn apart or what the individual will internalize it as. My blog has gone relatively quiet lately because I see so many good blog posts, well written, well thought out get completely decimated my commentators who are cruel and often do not try to understand the author or their position at all. Bloggers simply share their world, their thoughts as they are. Generally speaking a Blog will never and can never cover all the angles and it shouldn’t try to. I am not great at putting my thoughts down and so I often keep them to myself, because I love a variety of people with a variety of views and ways of living and don’t want rifts, but I quietly try to understand them and know better how to approach them when those things we don’t see eye to eye on come up. I’m passionate about what I believe. Most people are.

So while I was trying to find a piece of information for the phone call I asked the questioner, “What is the purpose of keeping up with the Alumni?” “To see how Alumni are using their degrees.” So then I asked the pointed question, “Am I a waste of my degree?” Remember I just told her that I was unemployed. The young woman answered correctly in the negative. I let her know I do not feel that I have wasted my degree either, but that that view was certainly narrowing in the world around me. 

After my Associates degree from BYU-Idaho I went to BYU in Provo and received my Bachelor’s degree. I do freelance graphic design here and there, more frequently when my children were less and younger and took naps. Now we spend hours on homework and cuddling, reading and practicing letter forms, painting masterpieces and building with ceramic clay, we spend time playing in the tree house and making chalk masterpieces on the driveway, and dragging a red wagon laden with heavy little bodies up the slope to the road just because it’s the shortest route. I spend time folding laundry and telling the kids not to eat on the couch, dragging myself into the kitchen to attempt to create a meal that will please a vast audience, sweeping under the table and picking up random discarded clothing. I spend time reading the scriptures with my children and teaching them to brush their teeth, to organize the toys and fold laundry, I teach them to make choices and accept consequences, I teach them the way around a kitchen and recognize a need and be willing to serve, I teach them to pray, I teach them to change their attitude. I also sometimes yell, roll my eyes and melt to the floor like my toddler and then I get to teach by example to repent and forgive. I eat chocolate after they go to bed and whine about getting up in the morning to redo everything I did yesterday. I pray.

I’m a mother who is doing the best she can to raise a few children who will know how to handle life and work for themselves. Just like me, sometimes they will totally suck at it. It’s a fact, but they’ll get up and keep working at it, because that’s what their mom did and what their grandma’s did, and their great grandmas etc. etc. all the way back to Eve. She made a choice that bettered mankind and yes, womankind that includes you, the terms man and mankind is not exclusive. Eve isn’t to blame, but to thank. I’m thanking her by doing what I feel God has asked me to do; to live, to raise children, to nurture them and to be a supportive wife. Yes, I’m married. No, my husband wouldn’t stop me from working if that was my burning desire, or even a little desire. I don’t home school. I am happy to send my children who I have found thrive in the public school environment, where they can choose to live what we teach in our home and believe me, they have a choice. 

So what do I do with my degree? Sometimes I use it to make money, remember, I do freelance. Sometimes I do it to help out a friend, sometimes I use my degree to make something as a gift, or something I learned in my college classes to serve someone else or to add beauty to their world. Sometimes I advise people in things concerning my degree. Sometimes, I use my degree to simply teach my daughter that she can draw a neck between a head and its arms because it is there. Sometimes I use it to help my child with a homework assignment or project or to research something that interests us simply because we love to learn. Sometimes I even use it to help my daughter do a project on a "feminist." GASP! Sometimes I use it to make things for my husband that helps him in his job, and sometimes I use it to document our marriage or show him I love him. I use it to express myself.

Does it really matter if I use it? USE it in the way the general public thinks I should use it? No. It doesn’t. Because once you learn something it is stored away in that magical space in your spirit. It’s a place that sometimes my brain can’t quite access so I can’t remember how to do long division in a pinch to help my daughter, instead I get to learn it again with her, which gives me patience. But my spirit has it, it’s locked down solid and when I die, all those things will be opened to me again perfectly and I’ll use them. I’ll use them and build on them and be better for having the pittance of a foundation my 16ish years of schooling brought me. 

I am not a waste of my degree. I am exactly what I planned to be. A mother, a wife, a woman with experience, a woman with knowledge, a woman with talents, a woman with testimony, a woman with a plan.

I am a woman with divine destiny. 

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