My husband sent me a link to this excellently written article about how stay-at-home moms actually don’t waste their education, to encourage me. A secretly sweet man he is. 😉
As I read through the article, I had a flash back to one truly memorable event. It was during my parents visit in Chinese New Year 2016, when I finally, and rather awkwardly, popped the question.
“Pa, Ma, aren’t you actually disappointed with my decision to put a halt on my career and stay at home, not generating any significant cash, to care for the kids?”
My three years of education in a private university cost them half a kilogram of gold worth of money of the time, and my living cost in an expensive Singapore would have easily incurred at least another half of the amount mentioned above. The total sum is definitely not an amount I can generate back with mere three years in workforce post graduation. And truth be told, that question had been plaguing my conscience ever since I decided to quit my job and be full time for my family.
“Does your decision make you feel inferior yourself that you ask this?” My father asked back.
“I am concerned about what people would say about and to you back in hometown,” I replied.
In a culture with Chinese-influenced gender-based hierarchy, my parents would have been seen as ‘putting their eggs in the wrong basket.’ Why throw such a huge amount of money for a female child who finally ends up choosing making meals in the kitchen and not dollars in the workforce? And I have two younger male siblings!
“Surely, you have heard something like ‘Aiyoh, isn’t it so wasted to have spent so much money, earned a university degree abroad, and now stay at home taking care of children, things we leave for the maids to do here?’ or something like ‘Jauh-jauh sekolah ke Singapur, ujung-ujungnya masuk dapur‘?” I continued.
“Well, actually Mama did have doubts initially, there were friends asking, or commenting, too. But slowly, Mama has come to see the value of what you are doing. Sometimes, monetary investments do not give you a return in monetary form, but something priceless, it’s a gain all the same, if not more,” said my mother.
To which my father added, “There is no need to feel inferior. Papa’s duty as parent is to support Papa’s children’s education as far as you want to pursue, while we are still able. This is a principle. Whatever you decide to do afterwards becomes your own responsibility. You must remember, there is no such thing as wasted education.”
Both of my parents barely tasted the privilege of formal education. They had to work in their early youth so their siblings could go to school. Yet they understand the values of things often unseen in dollars, and have an accurate view of the purpose of education.
How tremendously liberating and empowering has this short conversation been to me! As a daughter. As a mother to my children. As a woman.
There is no such thing as wasted education. After years of learning and wisdom that made me the person that I am, in whatever I decide to do, in any time and stage of life, I seek to do them proud.