Today is a big day for me. It’s the anniversary of the day I reinvented myself and changed to an entirely different path down the hellish walk of life. Of course it’s taken about this long to actually accept that it’s the way to my future, whether I like it or not – but let’s not get too esoteric and critical of just what I’ve been doing with my sanity for these last three years.
I’m getting ahead of myself, and at the same time being very vague. Let me be more specific.
On March 11th, 2010, I officially withdrew from graduate school. I started working on a book (I have yet to publish, maybe never will). I started this blog.
Leaving graduate school was a really big deal for me. My eyes had been directed towards that Ph.D. and university teaching career for as long as I could remember – it’s why I moved to California, it’s why I worked to get experience and recommendations in politics, and it’s what I lived and breathed for close to a decade. Asking me to give all of that up – at the time – was essentially asking me to destroy those ten years of hard work and dedication. It was in essence wiping “me” out of existence – I truly defined myself by that chosen path (stupidly).
But I gave it up anyway, because I valued my marriage and family over a career. In spite of how hard it was, and how much I wanted there to be a way to work it all out, I realized that everyone should be willing to make such a sacrifice. At the end of days, none of us will say “I wish I had worked another day.” I guarantee you that.
So in the blink of an eye, a signature on a piece of paper, and a return of my student loan money, it was all gone. Now I’m a Stay at Home Mom and housewife. I’m a mom blogger, or humor blogger if you will. I write a lot, but haven’t published much beyond this blog (just yet). I knit and read voraciously. I homeschool. And I’m getting back into painting and drawing – my original passion as a studio arts major upon entering college.
Today, though – on the third anniversary of that fateful day in the history of my adult life (of which I’m sure there will be many) – I think I’ve finally accepted this new station in life, and I realize how much it’s changed me, fundamentally.
I Have Much Stronger Opinions About Parenting
I don’t want to be one of those assholes that takes a side in the Mommy Wars and dukes it out to the bloody death. Ultimately, I could give two coconuts less if you breastfeed or bottle feed; work or stay at home; homeschool or compulsory day school. Everyone has a different situation and a different life to live – who the shit am I to tell them what to do?
But for myself, I have much stronger opinions. For example, I would feel horrible if I stopped homeschooling, because I can see the amazing impacts it has had. I think it would be terribly selfish for me to go work full time just because I want more consistent adult interaction too. Everyone has a different situation, I know; but a part of me wants to ask about the mothers that work around the clock, when they don’t need to.
My husband and I talked about his carpool lady just the other night; and while I don’t want to judge and feel she’s a monster (I already dislike this woman for how inconsiderate and flaky she is with the carpool anyway), I can’t help but question how this woman can leave her four year old daughter every day from early in the morning until late at night – for one reason and one reason only: she likes to edit. She never has dinner with her daughter. She doesn’t work close enough to pop in for a school play, or to pick her kid up after school gets out. She leaves at 7:15 in the morning and comes home between 8 or 10 o’clock at night, because (as my husband puts it): “sure, she doesn’t need to work because her husband has a good job, but editing is her thing.”
So while I would never go on Dr. Phil and say that a woman is selfish and shouldn’t have kids if she works out of home, or conversely that she has no meaning in life if she stays at home, as this third year comes to a close, I am finding it harder and harder to keep my opinions to myself as I find some of these issues to be a lot more complex than they are on the surface.
I Care About Different Things Now
When I was in school, I cared about arguing philosophically. I was passionate about Plato and Aristotle – in fact friends of mine would start arguments about the Forms while in a bar. I was genuinely concerned about politics in America, and I truly believed that my political philosophy would help shape the future (even when I knew how naive and unrealistic that was, I still cared). I didn’t care about reading good literature, I wanted to read boring essays about epistemology and logical syllogisms.
In other words: I was a jerk off.
Now I care about good books. Books that I can escape in, or that mean something other than an erudite’s egotistical view of reality. Sure, I still wax philosophical, and I look for meaning in everything – but now it’s actual meaning that I’m looking for. Not just ideas that mean nothing to my life.
I care about relationships now too. When I was in school, and to some degree when I worked in politics, anyone that got in my way or sucked time from my valuable career path was a sacrifice worth making. I’m not just talking about romantic relationships, either – friendships, family relations, you name it; I didn’t give a shit if it didn’t have to do with getting my Ph.D. and becoming a teacher. In fact, I was so sucked into the most important thing (myself) that I didn’t visit my home, my family, and my soul (Chicago) for that entire decade. For the sake of attaining some ridiculous goal, I completely rejected my former life and anything that got in my way.
What a terribly pompous and vacuous existence I led for those ten years. To even admit that this was how I thought and felt brings shame to the forefront of my heart and mind.
My name is Heather and I am a recovering douchehole.
So in the three years since leaving graduate school, my entire life and my entire self have changed. I no longer lament the end of the person I was, because the person I’ve become is so much more rewarding. Blogging, momming, wifing, writing – these things have helped me learn that what defines me is not what I do, but who I am. My husband got me a star registry for Valentine’s Day this year and – much to his dismay – I named it the Star of the B(itch). I thought that was so much more meaningful than just my name. It isn’t to say this blog is who I am, or that I am inherently a rancid bitch (well, I am); and it further shouldn’t imply that I believe “Heather Christena Schmidt” is a bad person. It’s just that I like who I am as Queen B(itch) now, rather than the lonely court jester I was just three years and a day ago.