Welcome, Mamma Crew, to another chaotic, exciting, but always beautiful day of an older mom like you!
I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook to be very honest with you. Other than when I look at the blogs, social media posts, or posts for the blog. But I do belong to different groups. And every once in a while, I check out what’s going on, and very rarely, well, I comment. In one of these groups, about entrepreneurs, somebody asked, “Why do you work so hard?”
Don’t ask me why. I probably wasn’t thinking or didn’t think much of it. I decided to respond, which was, “I want to pay for my kids’ college education. That’s why I’m willing to work this hard. I want them to go to college and not come out with student loans.”
And I got slammed, slammed hard! The big argument was, “Why shouldn’t your kids pay for college? Why shouldn’t you make them work through college? And what’s wrong with them getting student loans?” My answer to that was, “It’s not relevant. It’s not relevant to the question. You asked why I was working this hard. This is the reason why okay? I didn’t give you permission to judge my choice. I just stated my choice.” But it made me wonder, “Why were some people so excited about this?”
Now, I had to put myself through college. I worked. It was challenging. Back in the days, there were no online courses, and there was very little flexibility when you could take classes in the evening. At the university that I attended, the evening classes started at 7:00 pm and ended at 9:50 pm. And that was after a full day of work. Most of the time, I was exhausted. And the professors behaved as though there was only one type of student—a traditional student who could take time off whenever they wanted. I remember having to take a C in art appreciation class because the professor expected us to attend three field trips. They were during my working hours, and I could not take the time. Things were quite different, and it took me a long time to graduate, but I did graduate without student loans.
I had a full scholarship during my Ph.D. program. Unfortunately, I ran out of that scholarship because I became deathly ill and had a partial bowel resection. The time between being sick, getting surgery, recovering caused me to end up with student loans! I was so upset! It was around that time that I decided my children wouldn’t have that burden.
They weren’t even born, by the way. They never demanded this. There was no expectation on their part. It was an expectation I placed on myself—a promise I made to myself, not to them, to me, that I would pay for their education. That isn’t to say that I would pay for basket weaving classes or a degree that wasn’t necessarily marketable, okay? Because to be honest with you, the purpose of paying for their education is to give them a foundation from which to springboard their adult lives. And for that, they’ll need a job. We need a job that can pay for our adult life. But yes, I would prefer that it was the job that they enjoy.
My daughter wanted to become a teacher for a while. I was honest with her, and I told her, our society does not appreciate or respect teachers enough. Teacher salaries are far from being fair wages. And frequently, politicians who mismanage their budgets try to fix those budgets on the back of teachers. How do I know this? I was an educator. So, I have frank conversations about the reality of that specific path in life. Still, I would not stop her from pursuing her avocation. If she told me she wanted to become an art teacher, I would have more of a problem with that. Frankly, when I was a teaching assistant in the education department at the University of Irvine in California. I knew that there was an art teacher for a huge area in California who was never specifically hired by one school but by the district. She traveled from school to school. She didn’t have an assigned parking space, and often she ended up paying for parking tickets. And she made less than all of the teachers in the district. The only reason she could pursue this lifestyle was that she had wealthy parents who were willing to subsidize her life. So, I would have a bigger challenge with that.
Additionally, I would have to be honest with you. I would need sealed transcripts every semester from their colleges. I would. Not because I don’t trust my children, but because I was a college student myself, and I’ve heard, I’ve known people who have committed some huge atrocities on their parents. I know of one student whose entire family from the Midwest traveled to San Diego, California, to see him graduate. And he announced to his mom on the local radio that he was technically still a freshman even though he had been in college for six years. So his parents have been subsidizing his stoner-surfer lifestyle at great sacrifice, and he had no education to show for it. And he’s not the only story I’ve heard of, okay? Teens can get sidetracked. They can make poor decisions. I get all of that, and that’s fine. I understand that some of us need to go through that in our lives to come out being better people on the other side. But I’m not going to pay for that. I’m just not.
So, the whole purpose behind this promise was to give my kids a strong foundation to begin their adult lives. Now in today’s society, I feel that college is nothing more than that—a foundation. We need to have a continuous learning perspective. Things change so quickly that we have to continue our professional development. Be it independently, through an institution, or any of the variety of programs that are out there specific to our chosen professions. We need to continue to learn.
So, why is this so important to me? I agree with many economists and many other studies claiming that college prices are overly inflated and became so when student loans became more readily available. Our accessibility to student loans has inflated tuition prices. So, we’re feeding the beast. I understand all of that. But a college education is still an important foundation and still a springboard to economic stability. Economic stability cannot be achieved if you have student loans. Student loans can keep you from getting a mortgage. And let’s face it, most of us look for that kind of stability. And even when you purchase your starter home, once you build the equity in it, you could springboard into a home in a better neighborhood or a larger home. Or any other variety of things that we need to do in our adult lives.
But depending on how big or small your student loans are, you may or may not be able to purchase the home of your dreams regardless of how much money you are making. Just because you believe that you have the money to pay the mortgage, your loan officer may not necessarily agree. Additionally, my girls have an entrepreneurial spirit. Being entrepreneurs ourselves, we already know that no matter how much money we make as entrepreneurs, lenders have a real difficult time dealing with entrepreneurs. For some reason, they feel that a small paycheck from an entrepreneur is more stable than the entrepreneur’s income that pays that small paycheck. They are probably going to be entrepreneurs. So, I know that they are already looking at that challenge. So, the more solid their foundation is, the less the challenge will be.
And frankly, I’m not just thinking of them. I think it’s the Mexican in me. I don’t think only of my generation or the next, but I’m already thinking about my grandchildren. Just like when I was going to school, I was thinking, “I have to make choices that are going to lead my children to a good life. A stable life. A healthy life.” I think that way about my children. I hope that they make good choices so that my grandchildren will have healthy, stable, happy lives. And anything that I can do to help that upcoming generation, I want to do it. No, I’m not thinking about immortality. I’m not thinking of things like that. Which one of the Facebook comments mentioned. I don’t want to be immortal. I just want the subsequent generations to have healthy, stable, happy lives. Something I did not have growing up, something I had to work for and establish as an adult, something that should be given in a child’s life. It should absolutely be given.
So, I often remind my girls to be careful about the choices they make. Because later on, they might choose to be single parents, or they might become single parents because of a divorce or because of a death. You’ll never know what awaits you in the future. So, I remind them to think not just of the immediacy, what they want in the moment, but what they will want or what they will hope to have in the future. And always think about those children they might have, okay?
One of my daughters said, “Mom, you worry too much. I don’t want to have kids,” and I said, “Guess what? I didn’t wanna have any either until I was thirty.” Just because you don’t want them now doesn’t mean that you won’t change your mind later. Or you may not. Let’s say for the sake of argument that one of my daughters or all three of them chooses not to have kids—I still want them to have stable, happy lives. You know there’s one who keeps threatening to be a cat lady. I want her to have her little condo or cottage with her busy lynx cats and be happy. Feel stable. Feel secured. I want that for my kids. So that’s why I work so hard. That’s why I want to pay for my kids’ college education.
Somebody said it is a gift to the next generation. That’s wonderful. That’s wonderful, but the reality is that I’m doing it for me. It impacts them, but I’m doing it for me. This is what I want. This is what gives me joy. This is what fills me up. To create that stability for them—that they’ve always had as children, they are enjoying as teenagers, and I hope they will continue to have as adults.
Call it selfishness if you want. I am completely selfish. This is what I want for my kids. This is the opportunity that I want to give them. And you know, who knows? There’s a possibility they may not want it; they may not choose it. And that will have to be okay. Or maybe they would choose not to go to college when they’re eighteen, and they’ll decide to go to college when they’re twenty, twenty-five, or thirty. And if I’m still around, I’m still going to keep that promise to myself. I want to see their generation, the generation to come, have that stability, that happiness, that security I did not have. It fills me up to provide that for them. It makes me immeasurably happy (even though you’re starting to see little tears). It makes me happy to provide that for my children, and I hope to provide that for those hypothetical grandchildren, be it two-legged or four-legged. You know, the cat lady.
So, I was just thinking, after all the time that I’ve spent delivering this content for you, I really want to know that you enjoy the show. So, please, if you are reading the blog, leave some comments below. If you are watching our YouTube channel, let me know what you think. If you are listening to the podcast, please rate and review it.
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