Growing pains – the sharp ones you get as your bones elongate and your brain adjusts to the rigors that your teachers set out for you plagued my mental growth through Elementary and High School. I was a good enough student, but I really only made any effort for Reading and Writing classes. I could be rapturous when telling friends about new books, and I wrote copiously. Life went on.
My relationship with my mother was a trial riddled with criticism and subterfuge and her need. Raising four kids was difficult and I was called upon to help a lot. Clarity is important though, and I have lately come to realize that her Christmas gifts of poetry and books to read now show me that she did understand my passion. She’s gone now, too late to say thank you. Life went on.
University only extended my self- fulfilling study, however at that point I found that I had to choose a legitimate course of study. So Psychology with a minor in English it was. The perfunctory courses were interesting, but I also signed up for many, many Literature and Writing courses where I was followed by the Radio Station jocks. My boyfriend was a dj too and I’m pretty sure he shared my class schedule with his buds, because I was always surprised at the beginning of the semester when I would see many of them in my English classes. Over time it became apparent that I would be asked for help when they missed a class or didn’t understand an assignment. Life moved on.
It took me 50 years to begin to become who I am. I could blame that on my husband or my children, but flat out I blame it on my own fear of failure. I was safely cocooned in my stole of parenting, wifing, community helping, daughtering and I never questioned what I my personal goals were. Life moved on.
As I approached middle age – who really knows when that occurs now- my mind began to shift. I felt a driving ambition to be who I was meant to be. Examining my obsessions I realized that my love of reading might be good grounds for work with books. For 15 years I worked my way to the top of independent bookstore management. When that feeling of success left me, I knew I needed to dig deeper into my heart to turn my passion for reading into something that supported my need for interpersonal relationships. My BA was in Child Psychology, so I thought teaching might be a career where I could combine my love for children’s enthusiasm and my heart’s desire to read and write. I studied, I gained a teaching role, and my own children grew. Life moved on.
Now at 64, I am dumbfounded that success at teaching has led me back to my earliest career choice. Writing! Time spent with the Ohio Writing Project and the National Writing Project has led me to rediscover the joy that I felt at sixteen. Is this who I am ultimately? Will I be finished with growing pains once and for all?