“What Are Your Future Plans?” (a small rant on the reactions of people who’ve asked me that)

Wow.  I can’t believe a month ago I walked across the graduation stage!! It feels so unreal. I can’t believe how much I jammed into 3.5 years of school. (I took a semester off to plan the wedding). I can honestly say I worked my butt off. I’m so thankful for all of the love and support my husband has given me. All of the nights we had to stay in instead of going out with friends so I could study, he never complained. I’m also grateful for my family’s love and encouragement! You guys are the best.

A lot of people have asked what I plan to do now that I’ve graduated.  I excitedly tell them that I am blessed to have a husband who can support us so that I can stay home with the baby. (At least for the first few years).  This has always been my dream. Of course, this is always met with different reactions.

One reaction is absolute happiness.

One reaction is to assume I’m lazy. “Oh I guess it will be nice to just rest after everything.” 

One reaction is disbelief. “What a waste. What was the point of school?” 

One reaction is judgment. “Yeah, but what about your career? Your degree?”

One reaction is to assume I have no ambitions. “That’s all you want to do with your life?” 

Here’s what I have to say to you. 

To the people who look down on me because “that’s all I want to do.”  I don’t judge you for longing for high power careers.  I don’t limit you to one mold. I don’t expect you to fill one role. So don’t you dare suggest to me that because MY dream doesn’t fit your agenda, that I am less of a woman. Please don’t suggest to me that in our search for woman’s rights, my right to raise my children myself has been waived. That is something I can not accept.

To the person who judges me because I want to be home with my child and condescendingly asks what about my degree? What about it.  I’ll still have it in five or six years. I’m assuming women will still be allowed to attain jobs in five or six years. However, my child won’t be a newborn in five or six years. My child won’t be taking her first steps or trying out her first words in five or six years. So why can’t I prioritize her.

To the person who says “what a waste.” Why? I went to a university for me. I didn’t go for you. I went so that if need be I could help support my family. I went because I think education is empowerment.  I went because I think experiencing other people, cultures, and ideas creates more intelligent, understanding people. I went because I have a right to an education. I went to set an example for my children.

To the person who thinks I’m just taking it easy. First off, I wouldn’t consider giving birth to a child and then raising him/her easy. I plan to raise her (and any other child we may have), prepare all our meals, keep the house clean, and keep our financials. (How much do you pay or even value  your day care center, housekeeper, chef, and accountant)? Secondly, I have always known that I wanted to stay home with my kids. Before I even started dating Michael I made sure he knew.  I didn’t want any surprises if we got serious. It is something I was unwilling to compromise on. (Obviously, barring any unforeseen circumstance where it is needed. In which case I will proudly and gladly help support my family). Secondly, starting in middle school I realized I would need scholarships.  I worked my butt off all through high school, graduating with all A’s and one B. I was class president, in leadership positions in several clubs, and had an extracurricular resume longer than any school would allow on applications. I got my first job when I was twelve cleaning a neighbors house and maintaining her lawns. I have held between one to four jobs every day of my life since. (I currently hold one). I learned the value of hard work and savings. Once in school I continued to maintain almost perfect grades (once again, one lousy B). I also continued to work and I purposefully chose a degree that had plenty of options of careers that could be done from home. Last month I walked across that stage debt free– all so I could have the freedom to stay home, with my education and children- without the obligation to go straight into the work force. So please don’t tell me that I’ve taken the easy path. I set a goal almost a decade ago and I never gave up, nor did I ever slack.  

Finally, to the person who warmly congratulates me for my hard work and wishes me luck and happiness. Thank you. Thank you for understanding I have a right to my own dreams.  Thank you for understanding that I am capable of making decisions. Thank you for loving me and supporting me.

I am so proud of everyone that walked across that stage.  I’m so excited for all of your big plans, your secret hopes, and unique dreams. I will pray that all of you find happiness in what you do!

Here’s to the class of 2017!

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2016: “you can’t always have joy” ; a lesson in gratitude

This past week leading up to the start of 2017 I have seen dozens and dozens of posts complaining about 2016. “Worst year ever.” That has really been heavy on my heart. Some people had very real issues that they were upset about. However, a lot of it… well I’m sure you can imagine what was being said. It actually hurt, and maybe even offended me to see people condemning an entire year. Surely something good happened to you. (If nothing else most of you discovered Hamilton this year, though yes it was technically premiered off Broadway in 2015, your life changed this year!) 
Then, last night, one of the boys we were babysitting said something amazing. Something that so many of my adult friends need a reminder of and that I wanted to put into words and share! We were watching Inside Out. In the beginning of the film you see all of these globes that represent memories. All the happy memories are gold, angry are red, sad are blue, etc. At the start of the film almost every memory is represented as golden. The little boy leaned over to me and said “that’s not like real life! You can’t always have joy. You need to be sad too. Otherwise you won’t know when you’re happy. It’s like, you catch a jiggly puff and you just are like cool *monotone voice* . Cause you always catch Pokémon and you haven’t been sad.” 
I was so impressed with how insightful this young boy was! (I also took a mental note of a good parenting lesson I want to teach our daughter). I think this is an essential lesson of the gospel. But beyond that, I think this is a crucial lesson to a happy, overall fulfilling life. Yes, this year had struggles and things that we wouldn’t have chosen. However, without darkness there is no light. Without opposition how could we appreciate the good? 

So was 2016 the best year politically? Maybe not. I wasn’t a huge fan of either major political party candidates. (We voted third party). But at the end of the day- in 2016 you were so fortunate as to live in a country where you have the freedom to safely and freely walk into a local booth and VOTE. And for that matter, you live in a country where in four years YOU GET TO VOTE AGAIN. THAT is truly an amazing, under appreciated blessing. 

As for people condemning 2016 because of the passing away of celebrities, I’m going to refrain from a lesson in parasocial relationships and how unhealthy I find them to be. Instead I’ll just say, while yes, death can be sad. In my opinion, it’s sad for those who are still here. I believe in an after life and a loving God. I think in that I have to recognize that death is only heartbreaking for those left behind to miss the deceased. Because surly, as a Believer, I have to accept that they are in a happier, better place. (And, could I argue, for those who believe that there is nothing after death- if there is nothing than surly there is no grief or pain haunting those passed on. However, I can 100% admit that I am unschooled in that train of thought). I would just urge you to dig inside and see if your entire year was spoiled because of the deaths of (beloved, respected, and cherished) celebrities that you don’t actually know. Does the sting of their deaths overshadow every time you got to hug your family, kiss your pet, and accomplish something you’ve worked for? 

What I am trying to say is this. When I reflect back on 2016 I could choose to see struggling in school, friendships, relationships, work, etc. However, I choose to see all of the amazing things instead. 

I could look back and see a semester of tears, trying classmates, and hard work. Instead, I choose to see a semester that brought me closer to professors. A semester where I learned how strong I am! A semester where I tried my hardest and my straight A’s proved that I am a capable, intelligent woman. I choose to be so thankful and excited that I have the opportunity to receive a high quality education! 
I could look back and remember every day I didn’t want to go to work. I could remember the silly dramas and sore feet. Instead I choose to remember that I am graduating DEBT FREE. I choose to remember that I was able to pay my car note every month without my husband’s (willing) help. I have proven to myself that I am hard working! That I can handle responsibility and I am willing to help support myself without any entitlement delusions. I’m proud of that. 

I could look back on every fight my husband and I had and I could choose to be frustrated or sad. Instead, I choose to think back and realize that for the entire year of 2016 I had a partner who loved me every day. Who provided a roof over my head and laughter in my soul. I choose to see 365 days of an adventure. 
At the end of the year I have a wonderful husband and 2016 was filled with hundreds of small and large joys we got to share in together! From the daily cat snuggles to finding out one of my besties is expecting a baby!! I also was able to spend a few weeks in China loving and serving a beautiful people. Michael and I spent two weeks exploring London and Paris! We saw tons of extended family. We took my perfect puppy on dozens of adventures. I got to travel to Colorado and Utah to see people I love. Then we had a total blast in Florida with Soph and Toph for the Forth of July. We visited North Carolina to see one of my favorite uncles get married! I rode in a fire truck and started this blog. Virginia spent a week visiting in June, Michael and I spent a romantic Valentines Day weekend in a gorgeous cabin in Gatlinburg, and Michael threw me my very first surprise birthday party. My family also spent Christmas together and we moved into a beautiful home. Oh and did I mention: WE FOUND OUT WE ARE HAVING A PERFECT LITTLE BABY. AND SHE IS A GIRL. So thank you 2016 for every little bump in the road that made me appreciate the absolutely wonderful year I was able to experience. 2017- I’m so excited to see what you teach me!