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Overeducated Mother

I am no stranger to road trips. Growing up, that was how we traveled. We would drive from where ever we were living at the time (Missouri, Washington, Idaho...) to visit family in Oregon. For some reason, when my dad drove he would listen to this super boring talk show. My siblings and I hated it. We couldn't understand how he could stay awake while listening to it. Fast forward twenty years and that talk show is my radio station of choice.

I love NPR (but I do not love every episode). I could talk in length on my opinion on public broadcasting... My favorite episodes air on Saturdays around 11am – "Ask Me Another" and "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me..." A few weeks ago they had someone call in on "Wait, Wait..." that described herself as an "overeducated mother."

I think this is a common thought: why spend years and $$ getting an advanced degree if you're just going to stay home with the kids. And this bothers me.

FIRST – it's not just staying home with the kids. I don't sit around on facebook all day and let my kids do whatever they want. I may participate in hot chocolate parties, but I also work as a structural engineer when designing lego buildings, I work as a construction engineer when creating wooden train track stations. I answer complex questions like, "how does smell work", "why is the sky blue", "how can we hear?"

I am the lead nutritionist and chef in our family. I design our meal plans and make sure Hulk eats a variety of healthy foods. I make sure that he limits his sugar intake and I try to teach him to listen to his body.

I am a spiritual advisor, I read scriptures and teach Hulk about Heavenly Father and how to pray. I try to look for opportunities throughout the day that demonstrate Heavenly Father's love and compassion for us.

I am a therapist and psychologist. I teach Hulk how to manage his emotions and how to express himself. We go over his day and discuss what made him sad or happy.

I am a social advocate. When Hulk starts trying to control his sister I teach him about consent and that he needs to show respect. When Hulk asks me when "will [his] skin turn brown?" I teach him that people have different color skin, just like we have different color eyes or hair, and there is beauty in that.

While growing up in the LDS church, the young women (ages 12-18 years) were also honored on Mother's Day. This was kind of confusing (and had slight feel of misogyny). We were "future mothers". Today, I have a different view. Not every woman can (or wants, or even should) have children. AND THAT'S FINE. Physically having a child does not make you a mother.  If the term "mother" were defined by our ability to bear a healthy child, then the term "she's not a good mother" would not make any sense in its common use.

A mother is someone who teaches, instructs, guides, loves, cares, prepares... It's a verb, a never ending action. My son's preschool teachers mother him, his leaders at church mother him, his pediatrician mothers him, and I get to mother him every day. It's a challenge and a blessing. But it's never something I just do. It's something I am continually learning.

Hulk checking the cell culture at my work
SECOND – I strongly believe that my advanced degree helps me be a better mother. By obtaining my Master's (while mothering two children) I hope that I have demonstrated to my kids the importance of education.

Because of my degree I can better answer Hulk's questions. When he asks why the sky is blue, how rainbows are made, or how mirrors work, we discuss light refraction versus reflection. When he asks how bicycles stay up or why things fall we discuss centripetal force and gravity. 

When Hulk asks how people become sick, I can explain bacteria and viruses. The importance of eating healthy and getting lots of sleep. I can teach him how the organs in his body work and why we need to stay hydrated (he likes to drink water to "make more blood").

I don't want to romanticize this too much, he's only four and I do have my days where I just can't any more. He doesn't understand everything I try to teach him and I do have to simplify concepts because his brain is not ready to grasp them. But because of my degree, I know and understand these concepts and can introduce them to him.

I also have an understanding of my knowledge gap. I know when to tell Hulk "I don't know. Let's find out."

I also strongly believe that we are here on this earth to learn, so I intend to learn as much as I can and I hope to never stop learning. And I hope my children will be the same way.

Terracotta Warriors at the Cincinnati Art Museum


Construction in the Kitchen

Today, I was preparing lunch this morning (we had plans to visit the aquarium and then go to Smale Park) and Hulk was trying to drive his little tike car through the kitchen. Now, our kitchen isn't the smallest kitchen I've ever worked in but it's certainly not big enough to fit a breakfast table, a high chair with a 7 month old throwing her food on the floor, me (making lunch), and a little tike car with a bossy four year old.

While Hulk was beeping at me to move, I became frustrated – I'm trying to prepare a fun family day for him! But then, I felt the spirit give me a prompting.

"This is a construction site, you need to wait until the construction workers tell you that you can go." Personally, I felt this was GENIUS. Hulk loves all things emergency and construction vehicles. If it's got wheels or wings or flashing lights and goes fast or makes loud noises – Hulk wants to be involved. When he was three he told me that he wanted to be a fire truck when he grew up.

Well, Hulk latched onto the idea of the kitchen becoming a construction sight and ran with it – LITERALLY. He got out of his car and ran to get his orange soccer cones. He then placed these cones around the kitchen. Now I was tripping over cones but this was an upgrade to working around a little tike car trying to run me down.

By this point I had let the Little Viking Girl loose and she LOVED the cones. And, of course, Hulk hated that she was "messing up" the construction sight.

So JC said, "She's a construction worker, look, she's wearing an orange diaper."

AND HULK TOOK IT! He loved the idea.

And I finished putting together our lunch and snacks.

What did this teach me? That it's much better to play with my son and feed his imagination than yell at him to get out of my way. Had I yelled at him he probably would have been fine, he may have sulked in another room, but it would have for sure tainted our morning. We had much more fun pretending the kitchen was a construction zone.

And we had fun at the aquarium (but a thunderstorm rolled in on the way to the park so we chose to go home instead – BOO!)

Northern Kentucky University has a weird obsession with Paddlefish

Petting Sting Rays

The Shark Bridge (his favorite part)


My Once a Year Blog Post

When we first started this blog my family was feeling the full momentum of the blogging movement. My aunt even had a personal goal to write a daily blog post for a whole month. It was a way for us to stay connected. Fast forward a few years and now we send each other emails and Marco Polo App videos. Ahh, how the times have changed. Does anyone even read blogs anymore?? Hello, anyone else out there? Nope. Just me :)

I do appreciate for profit bloggers and reading their cooking/home improvement/diy blogs. It allows me to live vicariously through them and for that brief moment I feel like my life isn't a mess (it's really not but everyone loves a bit of drama). But seriously, as I write this my four-month old is screaming and my four-year old is eating ice cream for breakfast. So... #momgoals I blame JC for the ice cream thing. Yesterday, he ate cake for breakfast because we are out of milk and apparently he doesn't know how to scramble eggs. Hulk saw him eating cake and wanted to know why he couldn't have ice cream for breakfast (since Hulk doesn't like cake, ice cream is his equivalent).

So happy "late" New Year

Caught her with a smile #momwin