Conversational Bomb


I have the absolute, perfect conversational bomb. Granted, this only works with people I’ve just met, but so far my empirical results suggest it is foolproof.

What’s the bomb?

“I have three kids and I’m a graduate student studying medicinal chemistry.”

I think it’s the and that does it. The comical dumbfounded expressions, the dropped jaws and quizzical looks are endlessly entertaining. If I want to draw out the awkward stares, I strategically steer them to other hidden mines, like the miniature zoo or the writing career I’m also pursuing.

What?

I’m not crazy. I’m sure my therapist would tell me if I was.

Why do I find it humorous? I suppose it is the implied idea being a mother is so daunting that it’s unthinkable to pursue career paths which suit my skills, but happen to be of the more difficult variety. I’m a firm believer in doing what fulfills both your mind and spirit.

Is being a parent challenging? You betcha.

Is it an obstacle to achieving my goals? No. If I gave up and settled for a job that barely pays the bills because it was easier, what kind of message would that be for my kids?

Over and over again I hear fellow grad students say something akin to, “Wow. I can barely take care of myself.”

You know what goes through my head? If I were an employer and I heard an employee or a potential employee say something like that it would severely undermine my faith in their abilities.

I’m not organized or particularly punctual and while I’ve gotten better at remembering where i put my keys, I seem to have developed the habit of forgetting plenty of other things….like the day of the week, but they have aps for that.

How is it that our educational system has gone to great lengths not to crush children’s self-esteem, to the point of abolishing actual grades, and yet the young adults I meet have so little self-confidence?

My answer?

In order to succeed, you can’t be afraid to fail. You have to tackle difficult challenges, and maybe fall a few times before getting that gold star. If everyone gets gold stars, why bother?

I had the privilege of  growing up when a teacher could still tell a student that “excuses are for losers” and give a big fat red F when they didn’t pass a test or a class.

I owe my mother a very large debt of gratitude for a lesson she pounded into my head. More times than I can count she told me, “Do the best you can do. If you can bring home straight A’s, then do it. If something gives you trouble and the best you can do is a C, then that’s okay, but always do your best.”

I admit to not doing my best now and then, but because of the attitude she instilled in me, I maintained a “what you put in is what you get out” mentality. Whining accomplishes nothing.  Not only that, but she reminded me that there will always be people out there telling you that you can’t do XYZ. That doesn’t give us an excuse to not try. Sure, it’s important to know our limitations, but how do you know them if you don’t try?

No, I don’t pressure my kids to succeed, but rather try to impress upon them that you get out what you put in and you have to live with the consequences. Mr. Smarty-pants goofed off in elementary school and had to face the cold reality that he could not get in to the better schools. This year he buckled down. He still requires a prod now and again, but he had to stumble and fall before learning his lesson.

Miss Drama was a bit of a different case. She needed help. Once I gave her the tools (ADHD meds and a tutor) she put in the effort. I’m very proud of the progress she’s made.

Miss Diva rejoiced at the system fluke which prevented fourth grade from switching to the idiotic non-letter grade system.  Of her own volition she is doing her best to get honor roll every quarter. So far she is doing very well.

Perhaps there’d be more mothers and fathers out there pursing their dreams and creating a much better world if we taught children to truly believe in themselves, rather than handing out meaningless accolades.

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2 responses to “Conversational Bomb

  1. Great post! I work full time, but take classes part time, usually 1-2 semester … It amazes me that i can do that. Inevitably they’re is always someone in my class who not just works full time but also goes to school full time AND has kids.

  2. Amen. It’s too bad the majority of people don’t recognize this.

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