The To-Do List

This is what I have to do this week, so you can understand my level of insanity:

For my health law and ethics elective:

  • A 12-page paper–I chose to do mine on the lack of OSHA regs in healthcare.
  • A matching presentation on the above to be presented to my classmates

For my social media marketing elective:

  • Plan a social media marketing for a local business with whom I have partnered, including an execution plan and integration with existing promotions and events
  • Read two books
  • Write a blog post and watch 2 2-hour videos
  • Present above plan to my class

For my finance class:

  • Get through another 100 pages of text
  • Get through a study guide and over 100 practice problems
  • A case study to be completed in a group
  • Get ready for what is sure to be the most difficult final exam ever.

For my capstone:

  • One more round of decisions for my fake company I have been running all semester (which has a 120% growth  in profits, thankyouverymuch!)
  • An online exam
  • 2 10-page papers
  • A review of the above operations of the fake company
  • Another simulation of a shorter duration
  • The ETS exam required of all MBAs from AACSB-accredited programs in the country

That’s this week. And I work two nights in the middle somewhere.

Now you get it, right? Because nobody in my life right now seems to understand what I am talking about when I try to explain my current stress level.

These are the Days

16 Days. Of course I type that while I am supposed to be awake putting together a 45-minute multimedia presentation on integrated marketing practices for class tomorrow. My final project for a marketing elective to round out my requirements for the almighty advanced degree. John, in his awesomeness, brewed the strong coffee for me before turning in for the night. And I can’t quit thinking. I can’t quit thinking, not of integrated marketing as I should be, but of the uncertainty of my life right now. Have you ever been in a place where the things you spend your days doing no longer feel like they are what you should be doing? Where you feel like maybe your real life awaits you, if only you can survive this short little interim? That is this place. These are those days.

My views may possibly be skewed. I realize this. There are people who have devoted their entire lives to do what I have done for the past eight years. They keep doing it, content with their contribution to the world. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It is honorable. I’m not selfless enough. I feel like I have spent the past eight years paying dues to the world, to my being in general. To the spirit of my mother, who died from lung disease. I’ve been a good girl, and I have been good at my job. There are, in all honesty, people who are breathing today because of the work I have done. I have been there to help babies who could not help themselves. I have been there when families have said goodbye to parts of themselves. I have wiped brows of the dying, delivered tough love when necessary, compassion when it was needed. I have put myself and my family last. And now, after all of these years of doing that, I want to do something different, and in my warped mind, I have earned that. Not because I will, in just 16 days, have a piece of paper with my name in beautiful calligraphy saying I have completed some requirement set forth from society, but because I have paid my dues in other ways.

People ask me what it is I want, and I always answer with a “we’ll see” kind of shrug. I love healthcare, am passionate about healthcare. And I want to leave some sort of mark on this industry that is on a higher level than the one I am currently leaving. And I want to do so in a way that allows time for me, time for my family.

Lately, I have been thinking a great deal about my path through higher education as a non-traditional student. Evan was about 2 when I put on a  backpack for the first time since my mom died, which was eight years before that. Evan is 12. I will finish this long road about 2 weeks before the ten-year anniversary of that first time back. And I have thought about it. I have allowed myself the luxury of pondering just sucking it up, reaching deep, and going straight into a Ph.D. program or a JD, even. And then I think of them. Of Evan and Zach, of John. And what I want is no longer about a higher degree or prestige. Now, when I think of what I want, it isn’t grandiose at all. It’s simple stuff. Little things that aren’t luxuries to most, but have been to me in these years where I have tried to do it all.

I want to come home and not have to rush off to class, be able to eat dinner with my family at a normal hour around a table with food we prepared at home. I want to watch a movie with John without worrying about homework I should be doing or, better yet, am actually trying to do with said movie playing in the background. I would love to take the boys to a movie or park on a weeknight for no reason at all. Maybe even go on a weekend hiking trip. Maybe John and I could have a real date once in a while. Or I could read a book that has not a damned thing to do with academics at all. I want to blog more. Maybe I could revamp this one a little bit with all I know about social media marketing and content creation these days. I want to join a gym and be able to go–and not some lame attempt a a resolution where I don’t have the follow-through because, hey, thinking I would even have the time for a workout each day was optimistic at best, even closer to being the world’s dumbest idea. No, I want to actually go. And work on myself a little bit, and not just on cramming my brain with as much knowledge as possible.

It’s so strange to me. When I started this, I thought, “MBA: the CEO’s degree. I’m want to be loaded.” It isn’t about that anymore. It’s about enjoying life and having the means to do so comfortably. There is only one material possession I even want, and it is going to sound worse than it is: that new Mercedes CLA 250. Sounds greedy and ridiculous, right? No, because in reality, it is only about 3K more than I paid for our current car and I bought it used. And the current car is too big for me to feel comfortable driving with my vision issues. So sounds crazy, but really isn’t. But anyway, here I am at the end, and the salary isn’t the thing anymore. The job is, the career is, the comfort is, but the money isn’t. And I am saying this about 2 days before I have an interview for a position that would pay more money than I have seen in my life–about 5 times my current salary. And now I suddenly don’t care. Well, I mean, I care in that there is a minimum I can take. I worked hard and paid a lot of money for my MBA. I can’t just give it away. But money isn’t the key determinant.

So here I am. Sixteen days from the big finish. And it feels like everything in my current life is winding down so I can start the new one. So these are the days. The days of excitement, of anticipation. Of anxiety and uncertainty. Of endings and new beginnings. Of wrapping up and starting anew. Of sheer panic mixed with resolution and calm.

These are the days I have to let go and hope it all works out, that it proves to have been worth it.

And if it does work out, these are the days I get to lean back, prop up my feet, and tell myself that after ten years, I earned every damned bit of it.

This Could’ve Been My Kid: Toddler Boy Called A Faggot At WalMart For Wearing Pink Headband

http://www.mommyish.com/2013/07/31/toddler-boy-called-a-faggot-at-walmart-for-wearing-pink-headband/

Anyone remember Evan and his affinity for all things pink and sparkly? I didn’t really care, but I was worried for him simply because of people like the man in this article. Because people are ridiculous. And dumb. And virtually intolerant of anyone or thing different from themselves.

I remember those days. I remember having to tell my son that, while there was nothing wrong with him wearing or choosing whatever he liked, that there were people in the world who didn’t understand that and would be mean and cruel to him as a result of his different tastes. That didn’t make it okay, but as his mother, I felt it was my duty to protect him from any potential threat. I would rather he learned that lesson gently from me at home as opposed to the way this innocent little boy learned. So he expressed himself in the house, but not out in public.

Right or wrong, it was such a story as the one above that motivated me.

If I reflect back on that time in his childhood, I feel guilty. His personal preferences have always reflected his quirky, spunky nature. He is not the same as everyone else. He knows it, we know it, everyone knows it. He may have outgrown the pink, sparkly phase, but he has shown other differences. That’s fine with us. His unabashed exhibition of who he is for all who care to get to know him reflect a comfort in his own skin that many of us only hope to have at some point in our lives. I hope that time all those years ago didn’t quelch any part of that within him.

If it did, I am no better than the oaf in this story.

We all have our heads crammed full of what we should be/ think/say/do…
You’re a girl. You can’t throw a ball.
You live in the city, so you have no values.
You’re rich, so you must not know what it means to work.
You’re a man. You aren’t worth shit if you don’t solely support your family.
What do you mean, you can’t cook? Aren’t you a real woman?
You’re poor so you must be lazy.
You’re straight, so you hate homosexuality. You’re gay, so you’re a deviant.

We are who we are. That’s the world I want for my kids, in a nutshell. A toddler in the midst of discovering he is separate from his parents can wear a damned headband-pink, green, sequined, lacy-if it makes him happy. Evan can be obsessed with history instead of XBox. We can choose for my husband to stay home if it works for us. And, yes I suck at cooking anything aside from 3 specialty dishes, but I can rock out some corporate finance while keeping you alive, so that’s okay, right?

Our preferences don’t make us better or worse people. We are not less simply because we have our own strengths and weaknesses that are distinct from the person sitting next to us.

Someone needs to teach that man a lesson.

Bitchypants

Doing It

f8d17c34937d9c3215bfbbe00f6c78efI would love to give credit where credit is due for the above, but I have no idea where I got it. But this is the post where I finally talk about the other side. Of course, from the title of the post, you probably envisioned a juvenile describing the loss of their virginity, a la American Pie. Well, though I have my childish moments, I am not a juvenile and, though I hate to break this news, the whole virginity thing  went out the window a long time ago, folks.

No, this one is about setting a goal. One that seemed massive at the time. One that seemed highly unlikely. And then it is about reaching that goal. Or at least having the reaching of that goal so close that its taste is on one’s tongue.

I’m going to start the discussion off by telling you (or perhaps reminding you, in case I have mentioned it before and have just forgotten) that my first attempt at higher education was less than successful. My mom was sick. No, I mean, she was really sick, but she didn’t really reveal this to any of us.  So I spent my senior year of high school noticing how Mom was in and out of the hospital more and more. Somehow she convinced me to go to college anyway, but she kept getting put in the hospital.I was the first one in my family to go to college straight out of high school, to be labeled “the smart one”. She was proud, I think, and so I went. On several occasions, I would call home to discover that she was in intensive care. So there I was, a coddled kid away from home for the first time; a music major trying to study something I loved so much when really, I just loved to play and my mom was my biggest fan. And my mom was a home, dying. I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t do well at all. My grades were barely passing. I had gone from the smart kid in honors classes, to the one who couldn’t hack it. When mom finally dies about 2 weeks before final exams, I just dropped out. I couldn’t do it.

It scarred me. Mom’s death did, but the whole experience did also. When my life was calm enough, when I could look back on that time, I wondered about many things. Was I really just stupid? Was it the circumstances of the time in my life? Maybe I wasn’t college material after all. But I saw my life as it was unfolding, and I knew I could do so much more. And I met John, and he saw it, too. And he talked me into enrolling in some classes.

Just a couple of classes. I read that line to him just now. He smiled. He knows what he did just as much as he knew what he was doing then. Just a tiny spark. At a tiny community college where they do more training for careers than anything else. But I had been to a large university before, so I could tell that the classes seemed to be of the same caliber. Still, self-talk does weird things to us. But I enrolled in their respiratory program. I took the weed-out classes that all nursing and allied health students have to take. These careers, these jobs are stable, so these programs are usually turning applicants away. They make some of the prerequisites really difficult to separate the candidates by who will most likely be successful. And I had to take those classes. I aced them all. My classmates would hate me because I would wreck the curve. I literally scored greater than 100% for a couple of them because my professor curved others’ grades and didn’t feel it was fair to not give me the same point advantage. Still, the self-talk continued.

“It’s just a community college, Andrea. When you were at the real university, you sucked. You’re not really smart.”

And so I finished that program. With honors. I was recognized at graduation. I took my boards. I got my license. I started working in my field. And some part of me wanted more.

I wondered if the old dream of medicine could really take flight. I wondered if it was just because it was a community college. And so I enrolled in pre-med classes, to finish my bachelor’s.

And I got pregnant with Zach. And put on bedrest. I had been doing well, too.

More self-talk. Telling me I was silly. Telling me I was foolish. And then I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted to ensure my children would grow up in complete financial security with their mother present. I realized I had been given a gift with each of them, and I was taking that for granted. So I did some soul-searching, determining what it was I wanted to do. What I really wanted.

And I enrolled in an undergraduate program. Straight A’s. It was community college all over again. I nailed everything I touched, and I finished summa cum laude. But I did it online. And so I thought to myself, “Yes, but was it really hard? Was it really a challenge? It was just an online program!”

And so I told John that I wanted to go on to my master’s. To my MBA. And I remember when I was telling him this, that my heart skipped a beat. I really wanted it. I meant what I said. But thus far, every attempt at what I have really wanted has either fallen through or been derailed by my own shortcomings. To speak of this out loud was unimaginable, because it gave life to what I wanted. It gave me some accountability to myself. So I looked, and I discovered that the university practically in my backyard had a nationally-ranked MBA program. I applied.

They weren’t supposed to actually accept me.

And on the eve of my first class, I was so nervous. Walking into my first class, I got butterflies. They were going to laugh me out of there. I wasn’t smart enough. More self-talk. That girl needs to learn when to shut her mouth.

Because I have nailed it. In a few weeks, I start my last semester, which includes my corporate governance capstone. On December 19, I will be able to put MBA behind my name. And for the first time, I can try and try to self-talk myself out of this all I want. The logic counteracts it. I am doing this. I am doing it. And as I prepare to enter my last semester, it is becoming more real. I hope my mom is watching. I hope she can see. Maybe what she saw in me all that time ago was more accurate than what I saw in myself. And I can kind of see what she was seeing.

Mommy is Losing Her S###

[Disclaimer: I say what I damned well please on here. I say things I would never say to my children because I don’t want to scar them. And the oldest knows Mommy has a blog, but he doesn’t read it. Nor would I do any of the stuff I may say in this post. Please do not call social services on me. aND THIS POST INVOLVES THE WORD “FUCK” AN AWFUL FUCKING LOT. Consider yourself warned. Thanks.]

My children are amazing. They really are. Pretty. Cute. Smart. Funny. Creative. I would dare say that they shit rainbows and butterflies.

I am going to kill these little fuckers.

How can someone so short create such a path of destruction?

John used to do this. The kids were his gig. I loved them and ensured they got immunizations and dental checkups, that there was an array of nutritious food for them. I played with them, cuddled, loved them. And I worked. And did the school thing.

Well the tables turned. Since I have been off of work for the shoulder thing, I have been, basically, a stay-at-home mom. Oh holy shit. These kids are everywhere. Do you have any idea what my days have consisted of for the past 6 weeks?? Do you?

Well, let’s see. At any given point, Zachary is prone to empty the contents of the refrigerator into the kitchen floor. What he is looking for, I have no idea. We bought an appliance lock. He broke it. We bought a different style of lock, and he figured out how to open it. So our newest solution? We cover the entire thing with clear packing tape, and running out of that tape is a federal crisis in this house. About a gazillion times a day, Evan or I will sprint to the fridge to get Zach out of it.

And the baby gate…Oh holy shit. We have replaced it 5 times in 3 months. My house has an awkward arrangement, so it isn’t easy to block stuff off. The bathroom and basement door are right across from each other, so we block the hallway with a baby gate and Zach’s toybox is in our living room. Forget Shabby Chic. We are Toddler Posh. It’s a hot look, and if you have any doubts about that, I challenge you to spread some Duplo Legos, wooden blocks, puzzle pieces, and five tthousand different versions of Lightening McQueen all over your living room floor and see for yourself. My living room is a perpetual dump. But back to the baby gate. I can’t block the kitchen entrance, so we block the hall and let Zach have his run. Until yesterday. That is when that little shit looked me right in the eyes, smiled, and tore down the baby gate in one fell swoop. So just like we dash to the fridge, we are dashing to keep him from plummetting down the basement steps or meeting sudden death through drowning in the damned toilet.

Evan is supposed to be the helper while I am…challenged with one good arm. He is more like the ringleader. “Mom, Zach wants…..” Fill in the blank. Strawberries are the newest. But usually it is some variation of junk food that will get mashed into carpet, which results in the need to use the vacuum, which is too heavy for me to lift and use with one arm. (Fuck you, Kirby Salesman.) Or he wants to watch a movie, at which point Evan will crank the volume up on the tv, insisting it is cool like that because it is like a theater.

Nothing is sacred. Nothing. Over my desk is a huge dry erase board, and I use it to write notes. The latest is the list of words. Every week, when Zach’s speech therapist comes, we recount the new words he has said since her last visit. Now that he is trying to talk more and more, we write the words on the board. So Evan will try to get him to say new words so he has an excuse to get the dry erase markers and climb on my desk. I love seeing an 80-lb. clutzy kid standing on my desk an inch from the laptop I rely upon for school. Love it.

And the damned phone. Oh my God, the phone. My cell, that is. Everytime I turn my back–to answer the land line, write an email, pee, grab a cup of coffee—I turn around and Evan is on my fucking cell phone. Running the battery dead, downloading any and every free game he can find. Watching the same God-forsaken video on Youtube.You need a little slice of this to understand, so turn up your speakers and press play for this little slice of heaven.

Yeah. Full blast. All motherfucking day. No, I’m not kidding. Zach tries to sing along, which was funny the first few times. It isn’t anymore. I keep reminding myself that Evan has an unofficial Autism Spectrum Disorder. He’s off a little. This is enugh to keep me from completely killing him, but it is not enough to keep me from wanting to curl up in the bathtub with a fifth of Grey Fucking Goose. Oh wait. I’m poor now because I am off of work. Make that Smirnoff.

And Cars. Fuck you, Disney/ Pixar. I hate Lightening McQueen. Lightening McQueen infiltrates everything we do. Everything. Zach will not take a nap without a Lightening McQueen cllutched in each chubby little fist. And the Disney people, being as smart as they are, made several different forms of him. The one from Cars 2. The one who drove throough the fence in the beginning of the first movie. Dirt Track McQueen. Dinoco McQueen….Bling McQueen–he has fancy rims on him. No, I’m not kidding. Zach has all of the ones he has received, plus he has inherited all of them that Evan doesn’t have use for. And Evan had every single one they made at one point. Lightening is in the couch cushions, under the crib, on the entertainment center, in the car. Yesterday, I found one in the fucking dishwasher.

Everytime the phone rings, my children become opportunistic little boogers. Just now, my doctor’s office called to schedule my epidural steroid injections I have been waiting all week to scedule. The call took 2 minutes and while I was on the phone, Evan hurried and thrust 2 frozen pizzas in the microwave. Now I know what you’re thinking. They’re starving. Poor kids. No they are not. Evan’s medicine has weird appetite side effects, so he literally never feels full. If I let him eat whenever he wanted, he would weigh 800 pounds and we would never have groceries in this house. But the point is, 2 minutes. Mom cannot have 2 fucking minutes to answer the phone. And the phone rings more than once a day, especially since I am off of work. There are calls to and from insurance, to and from work, to and from doctors’ offices. One of these times, I am going to hang up and discover he decided to roast a fucking turkey.

So that is my day. If I need to do anything at all, I have to just let them run. If I have a paper due. If I have to visit the bathroom. Showering? Somehow that always waits until John gets home. I am a skanky bitch until 5 PM.  I cannot afford the luxury. And I know some of you moms will use this to explain that this is what you do all day everyday. Well, have a fucking cookie. I bet your kids are normal. I am telling you there is something wrong in this house. No sane human could endure this shit. Right now? Right now, Evan is in the recliner rocking back and forth and making it tip, laughing and doing it all over again, while Zachary sits and rubs the tread of the treadmill. Not fucking normal. Not even close.

So I live for naptime. Zach is quiet for somewhere between one to two hours and I let Evan play on the computer while Zach is asleep. He can put in his ear buds and listen to “Retarded Running Horse” on a continuous fucking loop the entire time. And I sneak out to the porch, close the door, and chain smoke the hell out of Marlboro Ultralight 100’s with the shaking hands of a heroin addict going through DT’s. (Don’t judge me. If I didn’t do ths, I would cut a bitch, I swear. Besides, it isn’t around the kids, is once a day, and nobody can say I am uneducated about what I am doing.)

At some point, John comes home. He futzes with his shower. He masturbates over the God-Forsaken Harley—putting it away, cleaning it (OH MY GOD IS THAT ROAD DUST ON THE FUCKING HARLEY? GET IT OFF STAT!!!!!!). We eat dinner. The kids have to be bathed, and I cry because I have a shit ton of stuff to do that cannot be done until he stops jacking off and handles the kids so I can fucking do it already.

I AM GOING INSANE. Fuck this shit.

 

Changing Tides

We have had an enormous change here in the Bitchypants household. Mr. Bitchypants, who has been unemployed for six years, went to work yesterday.

It’s been a long time. His unemployment started out by choice when the line he worked at in a hospital-equipment company moved to Mexico. Thanks, NAFTA. Anyhow, he was having a hard time finding a position to replace his earnings. Evan was in half-day kindergarten and we were paying full price for him to go half-days, and another $50 per week for the school bus to take him to school from the daycare in the small, rural community in which we lived. Instead of him just taking any job with a paycheck and paying $1000 per month for that arrangement, it made more sense for him to just stay home. Yes, I said it.

That is when it all started. Having him home was….different. First of all, while I am a feminist of sorts, my husband is the Man’s Man. USMC veteran. Country Boy. His wife supporting him while he stays home? Ummm, it didn’t sit well. Not with him, not with his family, not with society. Regardless of how progressive we think we have become, there are some deep-seated traditionalist views we all have. I had no problem with it, but the world in which we live had big problems, and I could see it everywhere we turned. I found myself defending our lifestyle. If the roles were reversed, and a man had an infinitely larger earning potential than his wife, and it cost the wife almost as much in childcare as she was earning by working out of the home, we would not bat an eye at her choice to stay home.

Make that woman a man. That wife a husband, That mother a father. Replace the vagina with a penis. Does the arrangement make any less sense?

Regardless of the rationality of our choices, we faced mud-slinging from everywhere. To my colleagues, my husband was constantly a “bum”. To our debtors, there was disbelief that he didn’t work. They wanted to put everything in his name, and he would tell them that his wife was the breadwinner, much to their shock. His parents would lecture him to get a job, that he would have no retirement when the time came. Of course, this was coming from his mother, who was living on her husband’s pension, with none of her own because she retired too soon. And the other objection: “What if Andrea leaves you, John?” Well, “Andrea” has been here for almost 12 years. Through homelessness, hunger, illness, poverty. And when the going got tough, I am the one who pulled myself up by the bootstraps, got a higher education and pulled my family out of that situation. And what of all of those stay-at-home moms? Does anybody ask them what they would do if the husband left them? So yeah, we heard it.

A couple of years ago, with the introduction of Zachary into our family, we really could use the extra income of John’s work. He began looking for work. The arrangement no longer made sense with diapers to buy and another mouth to feed. But with my establishment as the breadwinner for so many years, he couldn’t just take any job. We needed something that would A) not conflict with my odd schedule, or B) pay enough to compensate us for putting 2 children in childcare. And if one child was expensive in rural Indiana approximately 4 years earlier, the cost of 2 kids full-time in Cincinnati was damned near prohibitive. So John had trouble just finding positions for which to apply, let alone accept a position.

Enter the tension.

With two kids, we began bickering and fighting. I would come home from working God-awful hours to a house that was trashed. I would get ready to go somewhere and have no clean clothes. You see, John never was much of a housekeeper and I’m a little obsessive-compulsive. So we would fight. I would be upset that, while I was working my ass off to make ends meet, he was showing flagrant disregard by allowing our house to get trashed. I remember a particularly awful day where I found some of the boys’ expensive designer clothes molded because hey were under a wet towel in the basement laundry room for God knows how long. I began to try anything to get him to understand my point of view.  That is where I made my near-fatal mistake. Since he is a hard worker when he is getting a paycheck, I thought it would motivate him to do better by presenting it as if he was getting paid. With food and shelter and medical benefits, all provided by me.

How awful of me. I didn’t mean to hurt his self-image. I did not mean to completely emasculate him. I just wanted clean laundry and felt that I deserved it.

And with the pressure I was dishing, John issued his own counter-pressure. He wanted a job. Desperately. But he was still limited on the types of positions he could take. Then when he would find one that could work, he had to explain a years-long period of unemployment. Society still just could not handle that from a man. “You were a what? A stay-at-home-dad? What’s that?” So even if he made it through to an interview from the piles of applications, he never got an offer. In the meantime, I wanted him to find work. If I was going to clean the house anyway, at least he could bring home some money so I could maybe stop working all of the overtime. But nobody would give John a chance. And in John’s eyes, it was all my fault. I am the one who said, all those years ago, that he should just stay home. That it made more sense. And now, he couldn’t find work.

The man who served his country. The man who is such a hard worker. The man who, despite his own desires for his own life, put everything on hold to meet the needs of his family when the time came for it.

Well, yesterday, the phone rang. He was backing out of the driveway to go and put in yet another application, and I had to flag him down. It was a job offer, but the employer really needed someone. They wanted him to start then and there. So he left. The pay is only a quarter of what I make, but it is enough to compensate for childcare for Zachary one day a week. The only time we will need it is on Friday so I can sleep a little before going into work. Evan is old enough to play on the computer or watch a couple of movies while I nap, and he knows to wake me if he needs something. And we found a center that will do just one day a week without charging us for full-time care. In the fall, when I start my MBA program, they also allow flexible scheduling so I can pay by the hour while I am in class three afternoons a week. John’s schedule is 8-5, Monday through Friday, no weekends. In other words, perfect.

So the tides have shifted. Because while he may not have been a great housekeeper, I never had to worry about the kids destroying the house while I take a simple shower. If I mentioned that I wanted coffee, he would brew it for me before I even thought of moving. When I had to get ready for work, he would have my clean scrubs waiting for me. When we were hungry, he would cook…

I never realized just how much he did.

So while, with my career now and my future MBA, I will always be the breadwinner, John’s new job has done something monumental in our little family. I have a newfound appreciation for the partner I have had in John. I have taken him for granted. And with the first day of work, I have seen a change in him. He smiled all night last night. He was slower to lose patience with the boys last night. He seemed….fulfilled. And I had to realize that working is so much more than a paycheck. Being as into my career as I am, as motivated and driven as I am, I should have realized this all along.

Benefits to a job include medical, dental, vision, life insurance, vacation time, 401K. They also include self-esteem, self-worth, dignity. I feel like I have robbed John of that. I said it was all about the math, but I was so wrong. It’s more than math. It’s more than a Women’s Rights Statement and a big middle finger to the “establishment”. I’m still the breadwinner. I am stil the tough woman who will take the male-dominated world by storm one day. But this way, we all get what we need. Most of all, John.

If This is Sexism…

There is a photo I posted on Facebook a couple of days ago. It is the screen shot of my new schedule of my first MBA semester. The comment I put along with it was, “Can I just say how totally kick-ass I think it is that all of my professors for my first semester of my MBA are women?” I think most people got it. Some did not, and one of the comments I got was from the girlfriend of my father-in-law, who prides herself on being more progressive. She asked why this would matter and stated that, to her, I sounded sexist.

Hmmm.

I remember when we moved after I had finished school. We had actually been homeless for a month before hand. We needed money. And somehow, after one of my first job interviews, I had a job making real money for the first time in my life. Complete with a sign-on bonus, relocation assistance, and other benefits. We went from sleeping in a fleabag motel with most of our posessions in storage to moving into a upscale, expensive rental. I did that. John didn’t have a job. But I studied my ass off as a nontraditional student in order to get straight-A’s, a list of professional contacts, and more, to set me apart from all of the other new grads in my field and land a good job. I was so proud. And when I called to get utilities turned on at our new, nice house, what happened? They didn’t want to turn them on, and told me to have my husband call back. I remember my response to this day: “Ma’am, I would be glad to have my Master call back, but when it comes time for a bill to generate and you expect to be paid, you will have to deal with me, as my husband doesn’t work. I am the head of this household.”

But it did something to me. That, along with my upbringing, have shaped me.

My mother raised seven children. Seven of the most ungrateful children in the world. She was married to my father all of her life. And she never had a job outside of the home. She did a good job, as we never wanted for a thing. I grew up with elaborate meals prepared three times a day. I never did laundry or dishes because my mother never wanted us to. Mom made our world go ’round and Dad footed the bill. But then Mom started to get sick. And by the time I was a senior in high school, she was too ill to take care of herself, let alone any of us. What did we do? We got her signed up for Meals on Wheels and a home health nurse. I was just a kid, still in school, but the next child in line from me was eight years’ my senior. And she lived right around the corner with her husband, didn’t work, and her children were in school. Interestingly enough, nobody had time for the woman who had raised them, who had surrendered her entire life to doing right by us. While I was at school, nobody could even be bothered to bring her lunch. She would be hospitalized and in the ICU, and nobody would come and see her. I would try to leave school, but by then I was a freshman in college and prohibited from having a car on campus, so I was reliant on family to get me home when the situation called for it. The night she finally died, however, they all remembered their way to the house to raid her jewelry box of the diamonds and emeralds (her favorite and her birthstone) that Dad had bought her in their 35 years of marriage. One sister even had her 4ct. solitaire into a jeweler for appraisal and sizing the very next morning. And what about Mom’s last days? She would cry because her kids didn’t come to see her. She was miserable because, once she had no more to give, they lost interest.

Never in a million years would I allow that to be my life. I don’t want it. She wouldn’t have wanted it for me, and I refuse to let her down. I am bound and determined to shirk the traditional gender roles and live my life how I see fit. You could call this selfish of me, but then I would remind you that I make my living helping people breathe when they cannot do so for themselves. And while this is most decidedly not a commentary on being a homemaker, it is a testament to the fact that, while my mother may have had limited choices, I do not. And I have made my choice. I will never buy into the idea that my ownership of a  vajayjay means there is a damned thing that I cannot do in this world.

So life has taken me down many paths. I’ve had many plans, some of which have worked and some of which have not. Sometimes I have had to backtrack to where the road forked and take the other path. This is the case with business. I came into the world of business because my life took a turn when I was surprised with a pregnancy right before applying to medical school. Sometimes, I mourn that, but Zachary is amazing and I do not regret the path one bit. I surprised myself with an aptitude for this subject: business. I believe I can reach the top of my game. But if I do, I will be in limited company.

Let’s crunch some numbers:

15.4%= The percentage of female corporate officers in Fortune 500 companies, as of 2011.

14.8%= the number of board seats held by women in the same.

2.4%= The percentage of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

22= the number of female CEOs in  the Fortune 1000 companies.

Out of a thousand companies, only 22 have female CEOs.

(Source: Susan Gunelius @ www.womenonbusiness.com.)

With all of this in mind, I can say that it is “kick-ass” that all of my professors are female for my first semester of my MBA program. At a program that is competitive, nationally-ranked, and highly revered, at least in local business circles, these women are full professors, at the top of their game. I could say that there is a sparkling, crystal-clear ceiling made of glass that I would love to shatter, but these women have done it for me. For my mother, who died feeling like her life had no purpose. It is women like these who will ensure that my sons will grow up in a world where they do not believe that their gender makes them superior or inferior, but equal to their female counterparts. It is women like these who will change those God-awful statistics I just cited. And then there is the richness of the idea that, while women are so outnumbered in top business positions, they can make careeers of educating the men that edge them out for the top spots at these companies.

I thought the definition of sexism was believing in the superiority of one gender over the other, not the equality of the two. Am I wrong? Is it sexist to want more for your life? To have the personality that translates to the desire to challenge yourself and not stagnate? To expect that your gender will not hold you back and be happy when you find evidence that it will not? Is it sexist to believe that, because I have worked my ass off to improve the lives of my loved ones, I can do even more?

If this is sexism, sign me up.