Sometimes, it happens in a moment. That realization that you’ve passed the halfway point in your life. The future has limits now and it’s not the most comforting idea. I can’t say, “In fifty years, I hope I will…” with any degree of possibility.
But, the limits are confined only to measures of time. I look back at the chapters of my life and am determined that the remaining ones are not going to be some kind of flat, uneventful existence that look at the past as my glory days. Not that I haven’t been fortunate in many things. My husband is supportive and encouraging, I have a close relationship with my son, I have the love and support of family members, and have friends who are genuine and loyal. I am rich indeed since I possess those things.
Recently, I came across a quote: “Everyone has a chapter they don’t read out loud.” And I’m not going to read that chapter out loud here. Or probably ever. I’ll only say that something happened decades ago that threw me off course. That robbed me of self-confidence and self-worth. It took a while to regain a portion of that and, when I became a mother, my sense of purpose and love for my son gave me the strength I’d lost for so long.
As it turned out, my son had an auditory processing disorder–something like auditory dyslexia. We were advised by experts at Vanderbilt Hospital that Thomas’ best chance to be successful would be if he was home schooled. And so I did just that. From kindergarten through his junior year of high school, I tried to be as diligent and creative as I could be in creating a positive learning environment for Thomas. I delighted in those “Aha!” moments when hands-on learning enlightened him and, in later years, when we kept re-reading a passage from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities because we couldn’t get over how cinematic that scene was, decades before movies had been created. My days were spent teaching and my evenings were spent grading papers and detailing the next day’s curriculum. For twelve years.
And it was worth every minute. Thomas and I have a strong bond of trust and understanding. He’s doing a terrific job at UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts, working towards a degree in film-making. Since he opted to go to a traditional high school for his senior year, I returned with focus towards my earlier love, writing. I managed to have two short stories published and a short script produced as a film. But, there’s as little money in the arts as ever. So, I needed to find a job that actually paid money.
As a woman “of a certain age” who had been out of the workforce for more than a decade, this was a challenge. One twenty-something interviewer, discussing my resume with me, pointed out the gap. I explained the need to home school during those years, that my son is now academically and socially successful at college and he interrupted me with, “So, basically, you did nothing for twelve years?”
Finally, a nearby hotel hired me to work at their front desk. You may notice my blog hadn’t been updated since June. It’s difficult to write creatively when you work evenings past 11:30 p.m. and go in the next morning at 7:00 a.m. But, oh, the notes I’ve taken and the rich material for future writing projects that was gained during those five months of working at a hotel!
And now, I’ve just started a new job as a scheduler at the Waisman Center department of UW’s American Family Children’s Hospital. The center’s focus is on children with developmental disabilities and I feel that I finally have a job with a deeper focus. For a moment this week, my first week of training, I wondered, “Who in the world steps this far outside their comfort zone and begins an entirely new career at 55 years old?” Apparently, the answer is me. And as I’m meeting my colleagues, gaining knowledge, and learning new skills, I realize a brand new shining chapter is beginning. I couldn’t be more excited.