This week, my oldest sister was inducted into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi for outstanding work in her PhD program.
Thirty years ago, she left a prestigious career on Capitol Hill to stay at home with her first-born child. She had nine more children after that and dedicated her time to raising them, writing and volunteering in the community.
She is in her fifties.
Being nominated for Phi Kappa Phi is an honor bestowed upon very few. Only those with the highest of integrity and ethical standards, who are ranked scholastically in the top of their class, are nominated. And just ten percent of graduate students receive a nomination.
Several years ago, my sister returned to the workforce into academia. She leveraged her experience volunteering in the community and began teaching college classes at a local university and a community college. She is one of the busiest people I know. And now, she is pursuing a PhD.
About six years ago I left Corporate America to stay home with my three children. I had a successful career, decorated with several promotions and challenging positions. I loved my job. It was not an easy choice to leave.
I think sleep deprivation lured me to leave, pointing out the obvious fact that I would barely be able to function in either the job of a mother or my role at work with a traveling husband, and a two year old and twin infants at home. The outsourcing needs would be too great to prevent complete failure.
I remember my friend Julie told me, “Just remember, you can’t get that time back.” I immediately thought about my career, about how my progression would screech to a halt and the stumbling blocks I would encounter if I chose to return.
She emphasized, “You can’t get the time back either way.” Her comment resonated with me. I chose the time with the kids.
The first year was difficult. There were no accolades, there was no compensation, little people cried. I cried. My business acumen stuttered behind board books and diapers. And, I questioned my decision more than once. My value was unspoken. I saw the reward of my choice, but it was different than that which came with my success in Corporate America. Despite all of that, I think I chose wisely and I have never regretted my choice.
Now, my children are all in elementary school. I am technically mid-life, although of course we never really know what mid-life is.
As I sat in the initiation ceremony, and watched my sister be inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, I realized it is never too late. I was inspired. It became clearer to me that you can make a choice that causes your trajectory to stall or even fall, but in reality it may then propel into a direction which would not have been chartered otherwise. Or, it could pick back up right where it left off.
Either way, pursuing learning will never be a wrong choice.
The motto of Phi Kappa Phi is,
“Let the Love of Learning Rule Humanity.”
Perhaps a love of learning is what called to me almost a year ago when I set out on this endeavor to gain or regain knowledge and share my journey with others via the Mama Brains blog.
It is never to late too learn. There will never be enough money and there certainly will never be enough time, but as with any obstacle there is usually a way around. My sister kicked over those obstacles and is forging a path that serves as an inspiration.
I hope you are inspired by her to journey on to achieve your aspirations!
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the “Little House” books did not publish the first of her series of books, Little House in the Big Woods, until she was 65 years old. Wilder was 76 when she finished the final book in the series.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was born Laura Elizabeth Ingalls in 1867 in Pepin, Wisconsin. She attended school when possible, but due to numerous moves, Wilder was mostly self-taught. When she was fifteen years old she received her teaching certificate and taught for three years at a small country school in De Smet, North Dakota close to where her family had settled. During her time in De Smet, Wilder met a farmer, Almanzo Wilder. After dating for two years they married in 1885. Their only surviving child, Rose, was born in 1886.
The Wilders were met with many hardships that came with farming life. Almanzo contracted diphtheria which left him partially paralyzed. The couple lost an infant son, who died shortly after birth. Lastly, their house burnt to the ground. They decided to leave North Dakota and journeyed to Mansfield, Missouri where they would live the rest of their lives. There, they established a farm and called it Rocky Ridge.
Wilder sent accounts of their travels to the De Smet News, which would be her first published writing.
In the mid 1920’s Rose returned home and began encouraging her mother to write a story of her childhood. In the late 1920’s Wilder completed Pioneer Girl, an autobiographical account of her childhood. Rose edited the book and it was submitted to publishers. No one was interested.
Wilder changed the approach of the book and concentrated more on developing the characters. She changed the “I” in her stories to “Laura” and directed the writing to children.
In 1932, Little House in the Big Woods was published. Seven more books would follow, Farmer Boy, Little House on the Prairie, On the Banks of Plum Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years.
Wilder was ninety when she died at Rocky Ridge Farm on February 10, 1957.