My mom is going back to school!

Happy studying! Now, to do my own reading… argh…

Some of you may remember this post, in which I described the frustration of discovering that a clerical error had cost my mom her chance to go back to school for her bachelor’s degree. Leaving for school and realizing that my mother would not be able to get her degree felt a lot like survivor’s guilt. I was the only one on a clear path out of poverty. She threw her support behind me, and I did the only thing I could do: studied hard to make it up to her.

Now, years later, a stubborn daughter, a website, a loan and a very generous group of donors have changed the tide. My mother is going back to school!

My mother has been ecstatic about it. She’s even tossed around the idea of going for a master’s after this. The lovely folks at NYIT are working with her to coordinate the last semester of course work she’ll need to get her degree at long last.

I’d like to give a shout-out to my father for his help, too. Despite our history, he’s been my ally in this project. When it concerns making life better for my mother, we have a common purpose. It’s required ignoring our differences, which probably satisfies him more than it does me, but the important thing is the outcome. And the outcome is great!

When I was a kid growing up fundamentalist, I looked around at the mothers of many in my church and absorbed the very pointed message that women don’t get to have lives after childbearing. Their lives looked like an endless cycle of daughters bearing daughters bearing daughters, and only sons had the right to any other narrative. This feeling still dogs me, especially now that I have multiple friends with kids and am feeling the pressure to join them. But I reject that message intellectually, emotionally, and morally. Women matter. Mothers matter. Having a child doesn’t end your life. It doesn’t make you a less worthy person. Valuing motherhood starts with valuing everything about a woman, not just the work she does changing diapers and putting snacks in lunchboxes.

So I want to thank all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for helping me say this to my mom:

You’re still worth it. You’ll always be worth it.

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  • Aaron

    “Valuing motherhood starts with valuing everything about a woman, not just the work she does changing diapers and putting snacks in lunchboxes.”

    Amen to that! And valuing everything about women would bring such a fundamental and positive change to the world. All of us are humans first, gender/ethnicity/sexual orientation/religious preference/etc a distant second.

  • Lina

    YAY! That’s so wonderful, Sierra. Both your hard work, and her excitement. And now you can focus on relieving even more of the guilt that you understandably but unnecessarily hold.

  • Silly Luis

    Yay! Congrats, Sierra’s mom!

  • Meggie

    What fantastic news. Please pass on my congratulations and good luck. (If it isn’t too creepy to hear that from an internet stranger from the other side of the world. Lol) From reading your blog I always get the feeling your mother is a wonderful person who made choices based on what she thought was best for you and your father. It is great to hear she is now choosing to do something for herself. Now if only I could get my sister-in-law to do the same!

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  • Mictlantecuhtli

    I grew up in a politically liberal, non religious household and still got the clear idea that marriage meant death, since it meant renunciation of one’s own self and life so far as I could tell. It was very easy to see why nuns, for instance, were nuns — they had access to education, careers, travel, and a degree of freedom of movement and self determination that your regular married woman could not even dream of.