I was filling out some paperwork this morning, and was asked, among other things to provide my “net worth.” I’m stumped. I have no idea what the number is, but I’m guessing it’s pretty low. I firmly believe in the importance of what I’m doing, but I have to say, it doesn’t look good on paper. Same thing with my Social Security statement. I got one a few years ago that sent me into a minor tail-spin. I’ve earned that little in the last ten years? What am I, some sort of lazy mooch?
Later I was greeted online by this article with the lovely opening line, “If you want to avoid the worst-paying college degrees, think twice before choosing a college major that involves children.” (By the way, I didn’t choose a college major that involves children, I chose two degrees in music, which also made the list of worst-paying college degrees.)
Clearly I’m not trying to get rich, or even to impress anyone. And I’m going to avoid getting on my soapbox to talk about how insane it is that working with children is so lowly-valued in our culture. Part of me wants to write a seething, self-righteous diatribe that tells you how important mothers and educators and people who work in the arts are. But plenty of other people have done that already, better than I could. Besides, clearly there are a lot of people who don’t think these things are important.
But here’s the thing: today is the anniversary of my grandma’s birth. She was born in 1912 and died this past May. The third daughter of a photographer and a homemaker who had dreamed of being a writer, she went to college where she focused on art, music, and education. I believe she worked for monetary compensation one year of her life, when she taught fourth grade. The rest of her life was spent in the traditional role of wife and homemaker. And while she lay dying, surrounded by her family, she glowed with love. She took my hand and talked to me about family, and told me that what I was doing was important, and she said it from the perspective of someone living on the edge, where life is stripped of everything except what is important. She did what she was put in this world to do, and she looked back on her life and saw that she was fully compensated. I believe what she believed, and God help me if I forget and start looking only at how things look on paper. My cup overflows.