Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mom and I have an interesting discussion about Grad School

I love my mother. She loves me, but we are very different women. Sometime when I was in high school my maternal grandmother (whom my sister and I adored) was ill and my Mom (who lived closer to Gramma than any of the other siblings) went up to help her out. I didn't understand why the two of them weren't getting along and my dad explained "Well, it's like you and Mom-you love each other, but you are very different."

Although the context of the conversation was Gramma and Mom, I felt validation for my relationship with my Mother and I was surprised because I was only a teenager and hadn't quite managed to put it all into words myself yet.

That was when I was in high school. My mother and I continue to be very different women. I can't wear makeup or scarves, hate shopping for clothing and am still terrified of the idea of speaking in public. My mother is a teacher (and a consultant to other teachers.) She takes her dress and accessories seriously (I think it's partly because many New York High School teachers *don't* and she feels some need to make up for it. Perhaps because the she feels that their inability to dress properly indicates a lack of seriousness/commitment to doing a good job as teachers.) She shops the way a lioness hunts for prey-which is to say constantly-and she is always happy to bring home a good bargain.

She, on the other hand, doesn't read Science Fiction and Fantasy (not even the Master and Margarita for her) which is my genre fiction of choice, and doesn't feel the need to own an iphone or join facebook. She did start a blog-I believe it has one entry from several years ago before she gave it up. I on the other hand, keep a blog and feel the same way about my iphone as Sweeney Todd does about his razors ("At last my arm is complete again!")

On the other hand, while our interests, dressing norms and tech skills are different, we share certain personality traits. We are both high-strung. When we find something about which we are enthusiastic we are both *very* enthusiastic. This has probably worked out well professionally for my mom since as a teacher/consultant she was essentially selling ideas-or at least trying to generate interest in them. It's a bit odd for me. Because of the way my home and work lives were a bit damaged (until recently) I tended to try to dampen my enthusiasm (it was not well received in either case) and revert to full-on introvert ("I am a Rock" and if I can't talk to anyone-at least I can watch Firefly while drinking an IPA and feel better.) But lately, the change in my environment has allowed me to let out some of my enthusiasm. I have more confidence in myself professionally, I'm no longer in a bad relationship and I'm an MBA candidate. I have friends (and MBA team-mates) that I see during the daytime on the beach or having breakfast instead of having friends that I only see at night, when I'm wiped out, and often in a crowded and noisy bar. It's easier to express my opinions (and in the case of class or team meetings it is *required* of me that I express my opinions) so my in-spite of my tendency to be introverted I occasionally get enthusiastic. I mention this for a reason.

For example, a few weeks ago, after a very productive team meeting I took the shuttle bus to the Red Line with one of my team members. We were discussing work and we started discussing the document management system my office has. This is my baby. I had advocated for one for a long time and the implementation was the first project that I had managed. So when we started discussing this I went all wide and crazy eyed and explained everything in great detail. I didn't even realize, until I mentioned the incident to a good friend of mine that when I got all enthusiastic about my lovely DMS that I was channeling my mom. But she hit the nail on the head when I started explaining my explanation and she said "And then you became your mother's daughter for a few minutes."

Anyways, so tonight I called home and talked to my Aged P's. While I was on the phone with my Mom I discussed how the whole MBA program thing was going (well, but a butt-load of work-see previous post for details.) Mom said a few things to me that I thought were significant. For one, I'm the team editor and my mom said "of course you are the editor par excellence" (although I don't know if that statement is based on recent data-like reading this blog, old data or just an assumption that anyone who grew up under her tutelage can write.)

She also talked about her own grad school experience (and this was the part I actually intended to write up.) My mom was/is a New York City high school English teacher and a consultant for the New York City Writing Project. Her master's degree is in education and reading disabilities. I'd never asked why she'd gone and gotten an advanced degree. I had however made a few assumptions- 1) The NYC Board of Ed started requiring Masters Degrees from all of it's teachers 2) After I was born, the chance to get out for an evening or two and take a class (and think, instead of amusing a baby) must have been heavenly to my mother.

And, I'm getting an MBA. This is in kind of a different category from my friends' MFAs or my Dad's PhD. This is, for lack of a better phrase, a vocational degree. I see it as being in the same category as the CFP designation a good portion of my colleagues have or a Microsoft Certification.

Tonight Mom mentioned to me that she had intentionally decided to get a Master's Degree in teaching reading comprehension instead of getting one in plain old brit lit because she was a teacher and wanted to study something that would make her a better teacher. She chose a vocational Masters Degree (as I have) as opposed to a just plain fun/interesting Master's Degree because she genuinely wanted to know more about what she was doing and do a better job at it.

She formulated this idea to express it to me. This makes me feel that she respects and supports my choice/path. And this, to me, is a prize beyond valuation.

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