I have long chided myself that my education has been squandered. I never finished my master’s or published my research. And that career I was scraping together? No, that’s not what I do now. I am a full-time parent who does not “work”.
I had spent years chasing my education before graduating with a sexy double major in Cultural Anthropology and Art History. I will be the first to admit that while I was thoroughly enjoying learning for it’s own sake that did not make me very employable in the 90’s job market.
I banged around the work force for years when I decided that further education was the solution. Graduate studies and kismet afforded me a position in a Boston museum; falling in love with my adventurous future husband provided me another opportunity in a new museum in San Diego.
I thought that my studies had finally paid off! I was on track with the career of my dreams. Until…bad luck and an asshole boss lead me to my own #metoo encounter. Naive and unsupported, I fled that job. (Separate blog post of the regret of that decision!)
I shifted my focus to starting my family. I expected that I could be a stay-at-home mother and still have, well, not a career, but a job, an outlet, a toe hold. I wanted to be home with children when they were young and then I expected to pop back onto my career path once they were in school. Well, that didn’t go as planned! BOOM. Autistic children. Now I really needed to be home and for the long-haul.
Loads of emotional self-plundering later, I discovered that I was back on my path of furthering my education. With an astronomical learning curve, I accrued a massive amount of knowledge about a neurological disorder. Then I became a full-time human rights activist, fighting for the legal and civil rights for my tribe of three boys. I became a local ambassador, pushing back against the stereotypes held by family and playgroup mommies. A community services proponent. A special education advocate, wringing out privileges from reluctant schools and recreation groups. A litigator against government agencies. I earned the gleaming promotion to “Warrior Mom”. Autism Moms know this is higher than any of the executive “C” titles. But no way was I pretending that I was a teacher.
Phase 1 of homeschooling was the panicked shut-down in March which was surreal.
I spent most of those 12 weeks asking my husband,
“But this doesn’t count, right??!”
I was more focused on acquiring
toilet paper food than worrying about how to teach a first grader how to write a hook sentence. I panicked! I am still panicking! But, betwixt anxiety attacks and existential crises, I discovering that, while I never envisioned myself as a teacher, I am amply capable. Weirdly, all of my paths have lead me to just this moment and I may be deluded, in part by lots of coffee, but I am doing this teaching thing and I’m not the worst.
This is what I do now. I am home with these hooligans, actually doing SUMMER SCHOOL, and managing their behaviors and their therapies (the equivalence of four additional degrees, thank you very much), while still trying to be a woman who values art, literacy, basic mathematics and citizenship.
We are keeping the kids at home for the next school year. For better or for worse. I’ve set up my teacher’s desk in my bedroom cum preschool classroom from where I shout instructions at the 2nd and 6th grader.
I did not realize that my own quest for education was going to put me right where I needed to be. That degree in anthropology is actually very useful in piecing together the bizarre and fascinating people with whom I live and “work”.