I have a few friends who knit and blog and we've decided to embark on a blog project that has nothing to do with knitting. We're going to take turns coming up with a topic every Thursday and we each have to blog about it by the end of that day and post links to each other's blogs so that people can see our different perspectives on the same topic.
Check out the backstory about how the project was conceived and how we all came together.
Here are the other blogs:
Froggie Knits Like Crazy
This week's topic comes from Froggie: We all have times in our lives that we look back on and wonder what our lives would be like if we had just made a different decision. What is one of those times for you?
I wanted to start off by sharing some lyrics from "The Road You Didn't Take" by Stephen Sondheim ("Follies"). Can you tell I use his music a lot for my blogs?
"You take one road,
You try one door,
There isn't time for any more.
One's life consists of either/or.
One has regrets
Which one forgets,
And as the years go on.
The road you didn't take
Hardly comes to mind,
The door you didn't try,
Where could it have led?
The choice you didn't make
Never was defined.
Dreams you didn't dare
Were they ever there?
You take your road,
The decades fly,
The yearnings fade, the longings die.
You learn to bid them all goodbye.
And oh, the peace,
The blessed peace...
At last you come to know:
The roads you never take
Go through rocky ground,
The choices that you make
Aren't all that grim.
The worlds you never see
Still will be around,
I was pointed to this song through an article my mother-in-law sent me yesterday about a Stephen Sondheim birthday concert she attended. The title stuck out to me since we were writing about this topic.
The road I didn't take is an interesting one. When I was in college, I originally majored in special education. During second semester of freshman year, I had the opportunity to work with some children who were deaf. I got to teach them about the Internet. I was also taking a fascinating class about speech pathology at the time. The children in the class were really sweet and I had a good rapport with them, even though I had no knowledge of sign language at the time.
During the summer between freshman and sophomore year, I worked part-time at a summer camp for children with special needs. I originally was placed in a group with two counselors who were deaf. Then they switched me out of that group for some unknown reason. I got to know some kids who were developmentally disabled and enjoyed working with them. After that summer, I decided to follow the path of developmental disabilities (i.e. mental retardation) when I delved deeper into my studies. I stuck with this path until first semester of senior year, when I realized that I was in the wrong field altogether. I wasn't cut out to be a teacher and I think I finally realized that through one of my practicums. I ended up changing majors to psychology and taking on an extra year to finish off that major instead. I did really well with psychology overall, but it was impossible to find a job in the real world without at least a master's degree. So I went the corporate and administrative route instead.
To backtrack a little, during that same first semester of senior year, I took an American Sign Language class. It was interesting, but I had a rough time with it because the teacher never spoke and expected us to pick up the signs without any knowledge to what she was referring. It was very frustrating. If I didn't have the supplemental group lessons offered outside of the class, I would have been even more lost. I enjoyed the supplemental lessons that were taught by a woman who was deaf. She was very patient and I picked up quite a lot of signs. However, like with Spanish (which I was really comfortable with for quite some time), if I didn't use the skill, I lost it.
This all makes me wonder what my life would have been like had I chosen to work in the field of hearing loss. Would I have become more comfortable with sign language? Would I have had more patience with teaching children? Would I have been able to apply my skills and knowledge to teaching my older son how to listen and speak? I think about this now because I see how wonderful the school programs are for my son. The teachers really love what they are doing and are so passionate about working with my son and his peers. Even when I went to speech therapy with him, I became fascinated with all the techniques being used to help him pick up language. I'm guessing that if I ever wanted to go down this route, it wouldn't be too late. However, I am immersed in a life filled with hearing loss in my own home and am not sure if I would want that outside the home too. I don't know if any of my sons' teachers or therapists have people with hearing loss in their immediate family.
I don't think my choice overall would have changed where I am now in terms of meeting my husband (which had nothing to do with my career choice), my Jewish observance level, where I live (it might have made me more likely to live out here sooner, since DC is a great area for people with hearing loss), etc. If I had become a teacher for the deaf or a speech therapist, I might have been more obsessive over my son's language development and more critical of his speech therapists overall. I think I enjoy going along for the ride at this juncture. I like being given information and letting the teacher be in charge of his IEP (for which I respect her, as they take an incredible amount of hard work). I don't mind putting the education and language development of my child in the hands of others whom I trust are very professional. I help by constantly reinforcing what he has learned and I know what my husband and I have done at home has paid off recently.
In the meantime, if I had chosen that route, my friendships might have been different. I wouldn't have lived in an apartment during my last year of college if I had finished when I was supposed to. Living in that apartment brought me close to two friends of mine. We still have fun memories of those times together. I also wouldn't have met "Jack". Finally, I am passionate about where I work now and am happy here. I can definitely see building a thriving career out of where I work and I might even be able to use my psychology skills down the road. (I already had to use them this week.)
While there will always be those "what ifs" hanging around, I feel comfortable with my current life choices and am glad that my son has so many resources available to him in this day and age, regardless of my career choice. I learned through subbing for a Sunday school class that I definitely do not have the patience to be a teacher. And sometimes I don't even know where I get the patience to be a mother! However, I love being able to teach my boys new things and I get so excited when they retain what they've learned and display that knowledge at a later time. I think that's all I need for now.