Strong Girls

The Littles watched Mulan for the first time recently.  I admit that I wasn’t really paying attention.  I was folding laundry, putting away dishes and the like, when Buddy asks a simple question:

Mom, why do the people think that girls aren’t strong enough to fight?  Girls are just as strong as boys are.

I sigh.  Of course, that’s the point of the movie and he’ll see that by the end, and believe me, I am so very happy that he recognizes the bias, but how to answer his question?  I had just watched this video (I’m a confessed Upworthy addict.) and had women, education and literacy on my mind.

So I explained, in the simplest terms I could manage, that there are parts of the world where girls aren’t considered as important as boys (and some people here in our own corner of the globe would agree).  In some places, girls aren’t allowed to go to school. Girls aren’t taught to read.  And while it’s better than it was in the past, like in the movie, there is still along way to go.

I thought again about that video, and how all of my children, even the 4-year-old, would have been able to help that woman get to the right place.  I feel fortunate.  I told the kids a very boiled down version of the story: there was a woman who didn’t get to go to school because she is a girl.  She didn’t learn to read.  She took her mother to a hospital and they couldn’t find the doctor so they had to go home.  Now she teaches other girls to read.

They ask why someone else in the hospital didn’t help her find the way.  I tell them: maybe everyone else was too busy, maybe she was embarrassed to ask.  I don’t know.

They looked perplexed, and why wouldn’t they?  An adult that can’t read is just as strange a concept to them as girls being less important, or less strong than boys.   After a moment, Buddy speaks…

I bet boys made up that rule.  Mean boys.

Turn and Face the Strain….


Where to begin? I should probably start by telling you not to expect much by way of humor in this post, and whatever does seep through the cracks is likely to be negative and sarcastic, because that’s where I am today.

I’m reevaluating my priorities. You see, I’ve been suffering this semester with my MBA coursework. When I say “suffering”, it is not hyperbole. I mean actual physical distress: migraines, sweats, nausea. Suffering. I sit down with text books and my laptop nightly, only to sit idly staring at the pages or the screen. I won’t do it. I’d like to say that I can’t do it. But that would be a cop out. I could. I just won’t. My brain has completely shut down in regards to my current coursework, and I’m too tired to work through it. I cannot complete an MBA without these courses, and I’m not going to be able to complete them, not this semester, and possibly not ever.

It occurred to me tonight that in place of the guilt/worry/stress involved with this degree, I might be reading for leisure, or playing a video game, or blogging, or having a conversation with my husband. We have wonderful conversations when there’s time to talk. Why am I running myself ragged?

Sometimes it’s necessary to face the strain and decide what to do with it, so, I’m withdrawing from the program.  I already feel like a tremendous weight has been lifted.  I can breathe.  I can sleep.  I can dance. I can frolic. I can…. you get the idea.

So, am I giving up on academia for eternity?  No.  Not yet anyway.  I have a new plan.

I’m going to get a Graduate Certificate in Human Resources.  It should take 2 semesters.  I’ll start in the fall.  And when that’s done… then… I will be done with academia forever.

The brilliant part of this plan is that all of the courses are topics that I find fascinating and am eager to learn more about, no panic inducing financial or statistics courses in the program.  I’m actually looking forward to it.

Also starting this coming fall, I will have a glorious 2.5 hours, twice a week, entirely to myself. Entirely.  For the first time since childbirth, I will have a short time to myself that isn’t earmarked for someone else (work, husband, etc).  It will be mine.  All mine.  All 3 of my children will be attending preschool at a wonderful place that the whole family loves and that feels like an extension of our home and family.  I can’t tell you how excited I am.  I agonized for weeks over what to do with preschool next year when this arrangement presented itself.

2011 is shaping up to be a great year… MBA drop out aside… although… I think that maybe a blessing, too.

So, prepare for more regular postings… I’m going to have a little time on my hands. 🙂