Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Choices


To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.
                                                                                                                                  ~John Dewey


I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was 9, or 11, or 16. Somewhere around 17 I thought it would be most fantastic to become a buyer for Bloomingdales and fly off to Milan for fashion week.   I dreamed of attending FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in NYC, but my Mom was not thrilled with the idea of me living in New York, so I never applied.  Instead, I studied international business at a small Jesuit college outside of Boston where I took three years of Italian classes but never came close to achieving fluency.  Many years later I did get a taste of the fashion industry when I briefly worked in the licensing department of London Fog while in between jobs as an International Relocation Consultant.  It was in the heart of Manhattan that I met Greg seventeen years ago.....back then I could never have dreamt that I would be what I am today....a homeschooling mother of two pre-teen daughters who has not “worked” (according to Hilary Rosen’s standards) in almost 12 years.  That was never in my plans.
When I was newly married and beginning a family, I firmly believed that I should be a working mother.  I always felt that a woman should be able to support herself at all times and never ever rely on a man to be her financial life line.  Greg changed all that for me.  After Grace was born we knew that both parents could not be absent in this child’s life.  Greg works 14-15 hour days and travels frequently.  Although as a teacher my hours were much better, I was still leaving at 7:30 am and returning home by 5:00pm and putting Grace to sleep for the night at 6:00pm.  Grace saw my sister, who was caring for her, far more than she saw me and she never saw her father during the week.  There was no choice really.  She was my choice.  Having a wonderful marriage to an amazingly supportive man allowed me to completely reverse my thinking on the importance of working while parenting.  I changed my mind.













Over the past 40 years I have held many jobs.  I have babysat, worked as a really horrible waitress, held summer office jobs in payroll departments, coded insurance claims, and worked for a worker’s compensation prosecuting lawyer.  For fun I formed a charity that collected over 1,000 books and donated them to local children’s organizations.  I substitute taught at the continuing education program in my town (which was NOT fun) and I volunteered at a homeless shelter for over a year (which was humbling and heart wrenching).  I have tried many things and know that when I am ready to go back to work outside the home I will try many more.



                                                                        Great Wall of China, 1997                                                                                       
This got me thinking about what my girls have been exposed to as possible career choices. 

  • They have taken classes in artists' home studios.  
  • They have taken piano lessons from a teacher who majored in music and flute lessons from a professor at Yale School of Music.  Their piano tuner has tuned for Billy Joel and Alicia Keys, George Winston and Aretha Franklin.  His stories inspire and he listens to the girls play and offers quick bits of guidance.  Grace thinks it is amazing he can use his love of music to make a living.  
  • They have taken classes with Geoff (The Big Dig) who has a PhD in archaeology and used his passion to formulate his own business.
  • Lilah took baking classes at another home-based cooking studio.  Her teacher has a degree in culinary arts as well at theater and runs a multitude of classes out of her home.  
  • Lilah has taken classes in jewelry design offered by independent store owners.
  • They have taken classes at nature centers and met Park Rangers and Naturalists.
  • They have taken classes at many libraries.  
  • Grace has taken classes at UCONN Storrs and Western Connecticut State University.  
  • Grace have participated in sports clinics with ex-NBA players who now run their own youth development companies.  
  • They have taken classes at stores specializing in natural healing.  
My girls have taken many classes!  And then there are our friends...who are mentors and at times teachers. One of my friends is an IT superstar, who is self-employed from home. She is teaching my girls electric circuitry.   Another mother is an artist with an Etsy business. She taught them felting.    Another is a vet-tech. She taught us all about carnivorous plants.   She happens to be married to our vet (who co-owns two practices)!  Their friends parents own financial companies, landscaping companies, work in Government agencies, are newspaper editors, travel agents and more!  I am always pointing out the plethora of career options available to them.  
I never look back with regret that I did not go to FIT and become a fashion designer or a buyer or merchandiser.  I never regret working in Manhattan for such a short time, for that is where my adult life really began.  I never regret quitting my job as a teacher for my most important job was waiting for me at home.  I never look at any of my choices and feel they were not important parts of my life, for they all were integral in building my character.  My girls may know what they want to do with their lives at 12.  I don’t doubt that they could indeed become a meteorologist and a bakery owner.  I also don’t doubt that should they be exposed to something else in the course of a class or an interaction with someone in their community, they will make a choice that makes them happy.  


Whether it be music or meteorology, baking or comic book creating, or something not dreamt of yet, I will always be on the sideline cheering them on.

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