“Are you disappointed in me, Mom?”
“Disappointed in you? Heavens no! Why would I be disappointed in you? Where is this coming from, honey?”
I sniffled loudly in my phone as the tears continued to course down my cheeks, hot with embarrassment. I hurriedly let the rest of my thoughts tumble out, “Do you think that I’m an underachiever, because I never graduated from college or accomplished anything great with my life? Do you think that I had a lot of potential as a gifted kid, and I didn’t live up to your expectations?”
“Jennifer, I have always been proud of you and what you’ve accomplished in your life. You are a loving mother to four precious boys. You are kind, and funny, and smart, and beautiful. I love you, sweetheart.”
After more reassuring words from my mom, I dried my tears, and hung up the phone. I thought about how I am teaching my sons what is most valuable in life, and what underachievement means to me.
I am afraid I will never graduate from college, and view it as a form of failure. I feel like I didn’t meet my potential as a gifted girl who graduated in the top 4% of her high school class. I know that I am capable of earning a college degree, and have decided to go back to school at several points in my life. Inevitably, my circumstances and my desires have shifted.
When comparing my attainments to those of my gifted peers, I feel like a slacker, but I shouldn’t. My dreams for the future weren’t to be a cardiovascular surgeon, Harvard Law graduate, or physician. Those dreams belonged to my friends, and I’m proud that they’ve met them.
At nearly 40, I’m realizing I may never have a college degree, but my goals and vision for my future don’t require me to earn a one.
My gifted sons who are 8, 8, 8 and 5 may never be noted in history books for their multi-million dollar inventions or ground breaking research. While it would be fantastic, and incredible for my boys to achieve worldly greatness, there are other feats which I value more.
I want my sons to adore their wives and children. I want them to grow to be men of faith, patience and generosity. I want to see their kind acts and compassion toward mankind in hours spent in service. I want them to be examples, and brave leaders in the face of adversity and life’s challenges.
Most importantly, I want them to know, like I do, that they are loved and cherished by their mom for who they are, not what they achieve.
Genealogy Jen’s Weekly Challenge – Call your mom, and tell her that you love her, and appreciate her personal sacrifices on your behalf. If she’s passed on, send her a little prayer. She’s probably listening, because she loves you.
This post is part of Hoagie’s Gifted Education monthly blog hop series on Underachievement in Gifted Kids.
You can read additional posts on this theme by clicking the graphic below.
Jen I am going to call my mother today and express my love for her and her sacrifices. Even if you had gone to college you might still experience a feeling of not living up to your own expectations. I am a college graduate, at the top of my class, who didn’t finish graduate school. I also don’t have a “career” but have accompanied my husband on 4 overseas assignments, raised 2 children. I still feel a sense of failure for not having accomplished something more so I enjoyed your comments about valuing what is more important.
Wow. I think that you are right. My expectations of myself are difficult because they are typically on a shifting scale… my more challenging personal attributes compared to someone’s strengths. In that situation, it’s impossible for it to be level or balanced. I feel that what we learn on our earthly journey is important. My most valuable “classes” have left a lasting impression. Thank you so much for reading, for your comment, and for giving me more to ponder. PS Enjoy your talk with your mom! I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.
Thank you! So much to say. Brought tears to my eyes again!! (On a plane to New Orleans….thanks……lol). I call my mom all the time, and am realizing how valuable she is and has been in my life, and obviously, how finite life is. I understand regrets. For some reason, I have a recurring nightmare that I never graduated high school, (even though I know I graduated college). That’s weird….. Isn’t your greatest accomplishment those boys really? Everyone says (it seems so cliche) but I feel it, I am hugely passionate about my career but none of it compares to Casey ;).
Wow Molly! Look at my perm hair picture if you need a smile. You can totally play it off as a contact issue… or own that I make you cry all the time, but not in a bad way. Have a safe journey. I’ve read that dreams about school are a reminder that we aren’t done learning, and we’re ready for instruction and guidance from the universe.
“I want my sons to adore their wives and children. I want them to grow to be men of faith, patience and generosity. I want to see their kind acts and compassion toward mankind in hours spent in service. I want them to be examples, and brave leaders in the face of adversity and life’s challenges.”
YES. I love this post!
Thank you so much Cait!
Thank you for this, Jen. I, too, want my kids to know they’re valued for who they are not what they achieve. Great reminder!
Thank you Colleen!
Oh, my, your words “because I never graduated from college or accomplished anything great with my life?” choke me up. I think the blogging world is lucky to have you. Four sons, a writer, and a very brave woman. It’s good for us to see ourselves through others’ eyes: One day, those four men will look back and think, “Wow. She is OUR mother.” 🙂
Geeze Karen, now I’m tearing up. Thank you.
Your sons are blessed to have you for a mom! Beautiful post.
Thank you so much!
Jen, I love your post… it is beautiful, especially your hopes for your children. I also love the reminder to thank our own mothers. Thank you! <3
Completing college has nothing to do with character, ability, compassion and integrity. It is a hurdle some choose to fulfill. It is wonderful that you are starting to separate that from who you are. Great post.
That’s what I’m struggling with right now! Thanks for your insight.
I relate to this post (even though I did graduate from college. I am the only one in my family who only has a bachelor’s degree-lol). However, I have three amazing children (25, 23, and 21) who I am so proud of and so thankful for. Every. Single. Day. Keep on being amazing at who you are. And love and enjoy your boys-they grow up so fast!
Please don’t feel that you have to give up on finishing college forever at 40 years of age!
My mother, an RN, started on her Bachelor of Nursing at 37 years & finished in her early 40s. Then she went on to get her Master’s in Health Education, since she was an elementary school nurse & finished just before her 50th birthday!!
Jen, you are educated. Having a degree behind your name doesn’t mean that you are.
I, too, felt guilt pangs that I never went to college. All I ever wanted to be was a wife and mom. I never thought I would ever get married, so the fact that I did, and raised four children filled my dreams I had as a girl.
My friends went on to graduate. I didn’t. The only college class I ever had in my life was one that I took on Ohio history, and the professor took us right back to the glaciers. As a genealogist, I really didn’t need to go back that far. But, it was my one and only class.
Don’t you worry about this. You have far more education and experience than many graduates do.
Thanks Peggy! I felt a lot better after I wrote this. Attending Rootstech was a wonderful experience for me, and helped me realize how I can focus on my passions and balance my roles as a mother and wife. I appreciate your support and encouragement.