June 11, 2009 by Marj Hatzell
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was in high school. I’ll never forget it one particular day. Picture this scene: Twenty innocent little Catlick girls (insert hearty guffaw here), Career counselor woman, talking about colleges and careers and stuff. We were sixteen? Maybe? It was my junior year. All I remember is that were trying to impress on us that we had the potential to become anything and everything. This was the nineties after all! We could do whatever we wanted! Doctor! Lawyer! Indian Chief (ok, perhaps not, I’m Irish and German)! And then the discussion went around the room. She actually made each of us stand up and tell the class what our future aspirations were. Doctors, Lawyers, teachers, the list went on. She applauded each of them for their ideas. She mentioned colleges and universities to accomplish it. She talked about SATs and visits and applications. Then she got to the last row. Since my last name began with a “P” I was the fourth-to-last girl to go. The words still sting to this day:
Crazy-arse nun: Well? P?
Me: reluctantly rising and mumbling
Crazy-arse nun: What was that? No one could hear you, for a change.
Me: I said I’d like to get married and have kids some day.
Crazy-arse nun: WHAT? DIDN’T YOU HEAR WHAT WE WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT? You can become ANYTHING YOU WANT! Why in the world would you want to limit yourself to that? You have potential! You are intelligent! You are a gifted student! A mother? Think of careers!
Me: Well, I was thinking of maybe getting a teaching degree. Maybe special ed. Then I want to get married and have kids.
Crazy-arse nun: CAREER! We’re talking about Careers!
Me: Ok. Ummm…I’m going to clown college.
Let’s just say that last part went over about as well as the first part. What gives? I told the truth. I liked school. In fact, I loved school. But I honestly did not care what it was that I pursued. I knew I’d be a good college student, I knew I’d get a degree in something. But I also knew that I wanted to meet someone that I could spend the rest of my life with and have children. That was not acceptable at my high school. Girls were raised to believe they could go get fifteen thousand degrees if they were academically gifted. The lower track girls were the ones who got the marriage, family and s.e.x. talk when we got the career talks. I was viewed as a “waste of time.” I was sent to the counselor’s office repeatedly over the next eighteen months, until graduation. And my ideas never wavered.
Until I got to college.
Let’s just say I let loose a tad. I didn’t care if I woke up in the morning. I worked a stream of dead-end jobs. I changed my major four times in two years. Then I dropped out. See? No direction. The pressure to get a career, any career, sent me over the edge. I was a mess.
Then I met my husband. He straightened my arse out. I got married. I went back to college, this time majoring in Special Ed (see,told you!). I graduated. With honors. With a teaching degree.
And then I was preggers.
Except this time? I was pissed. By that time all I could think of was “CAREER! CAREER! GRADUATE SCHOOL!” And not, “Husband, family!” I was a bit of a liberal feminist at the time (still somewhat there). I only thought about me.
Then Bug Boy was born. Except then we called him Baby Bug. ‘Cause he was a baby. Get it?
Here we are eight years later. I still kinda wish I went to graduate school. But the other day it hit me. I’m a mom. I’m a wife. I stay home. I take care of our home. I take care of our children. I take care of my husband. I take care of the dog. Sometimes, I even take care of me. But for eight years I felt like I copped out. Like I let the crazy-arse nuns down. Like I was supposed to be independent and intelligent and well-educated and successful. I felt like I didn’t become successful.
And that’s when I realized that DESPITE PRESSURE FROM SOCIETY, I am doing exactly what I want to do. I’m a stay-at-home-mom with the potential to make money watching other folk’s kids. I’m rare. I ain’t some lazy Oprah-watching, phone-chatting, bon-bon-eating, uneducated fool. We chose this because it was right for our family. We chose this because we view motherhood as the most important job in the world, and we have the means for me to stay home. We sacrifice fancy vacations, expensive items and DECKS (dirt pit! ) so that I can be available for our family twenty-four hours a day. Sure, I could go back to work. Sure, I could go back to college. Maybe someday soon I will. But right now, I am enjoying being there for my kids. I ENJOY looking forward to when my husband walks in the door, his comments about how awesome dinner smells and his supportive words when he tells me the house looks great, despite the fact that it is pouring rain outside.
In other words, I became exactly what I used to joke about. A Domestic Goddess.
Sometimes I guess we become the very thing that we were supposed to become. All those naive years ago, I thought I wanted to be married and have children, but I had no clue. Then I thought I wanted to go to college forever (nine years seemed like forever). Then I had kids and thought I wanted to stay home forever.
I still have no clue what I want to be when I grow up.
But one thing’s for sure. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. And I’m content. And happy. And successful. And HAPPY. And I love my job. It’s the best one in the world (just remind me of that next time I wake up at 3am, k? Oh wait, I JUST DID.).