Friday, May 08, 2009

Doctoral Degree for Sale, Good Condition, Hardly Used

Last night, preparing for the annual Spring Parent Meeting at my daughter's preschool where I volunteer as president of the Board of Directors, I stood in front of an office copy machine and squinted hesitantly at the buttons for just a little too long. Then I mangled a stack of handouts when I tried to slice them neatly in three with the paper cutter. I may also have inadvertently sliced up my own copy of the meeting agenda, along with the handouts. Possibly.

I stood there and realized it's been 4 years and 11 months since I've used any sort of office machine.

Later on, I stood chatting with a fellow preschool mom friend, a woman I've known the past two years as our children have been in nursery school together, and we talked about our firstborns going off to kindergarten in September, and what we're going to do when our kids are all in school--real school, not 2-1/2-hour, two-or-three-days-a-week nursery school. She's about my age, with kids about the same ages as my kids. She said that she and her husband have an agreement, that as long as it's possible to do so, she'll be an at-home, full-time mom until her youngest has graduated from high school. "I want to be there after school, and to volunteer as a room parent, and to be able to go to the daytime school programs and drive them to their after-school activities," this friend explained. But she also said she's a first-generation college student, and her extended family all wonder why she earned a college degree if she's not going to use it. I didn't say anything about my Ph.D.

At this meeting, we reflected on what a tough--but ultimately triumphant--year it's been for my daughter's little school and everyone who's been helping run it, and how it's really taken near-heroic efforts by everyone involved to keep it afloat after the disruption of the former director's abrupt departure just before the school year began and the crisis of a budget that left us contemplating layoffs and worse. The school director reflected on the high points of the year ("Spaghetti Day! Violin music, saxophone music, harp music, guitar music! The Art Crawl! Our resident mama and papa ducks, hatching their 13 babies in the courtyard just last week!"), and I was deeply happy to have been there for all of it. Not literally there in Julia's classroom for every moment, but present, participating, aware of the daily minutiae of my daughter's school life.

I don't know what's down the road for me, if I'll be using a Xerox machine in the next 14 years or not. I like to think it doesn't really matter. We full-time, years-long, stay-at-home-moms---we're just following our hearts right now, and trusting that everything will work out later on. It's not easy, but what is? It will be OK.

But I may need to brush up on my copy-machine skills in 2024.


Mnmom said...

It all works out, truly.

Mom said...

There won't even BE any copy machines by 2024!!

Rob Hardy said...

I got my Ph.D. in 1991. I published my first "scholarly" article in 1990, and didn't publish another until 2002. I taught Greek for the first time in 1991, and not again until 2008. Those Ph.D.s polish up real nice when you need them!