I’m nearly a half century old and launching a new career. After a working life spent in daily newspapers and then teaching at community colleges and raising sons, I am earning a master’s degree in Special Education and alternate-route teaching certificates in English and in Teaching Students with Disabilities.
What’s this got to do with being Catholic? Well, my faith lets me know that from the moment I entered this planet to the moment I leave it, my life is in the hands of the Almighty. He willed me and everyone else into being. So really, I have nothing to worry about as I embark on this leg of my journey.
The path behind me: My mom was an outstanding public school teacher. So was a woman who mentored me as a teenager and young adult. As for teaching English piece, I’ve always loved to read and to write. I majored in English, then earned a master’s degree in journalism. I spent many years paying rents and mortgages as a wordsmith. I married a writer, too. Then, we discovered one of our sons has a language-based learning disability. We’ve helped him navigate speaking, and reading and writing. This helped me see how very complex those tasks we often take for granted are. In the process, I learned about the alphabet world of special education: IEPs and SLDs and so on. We also know his disabilities give him strengths in other areas, including an excellent memory and great social skills.
How could I imagine that any of the people and circumstances I have encountered are random? Who brought these people to me?
This summer, our sons are in camps, away from home for the first time. They are swimming in Lake Champlain, playing basketball at the Rutgers Athletic Center, studying film in Bangor, Maine and learning soccer at the Peddie School in Hightstown, NJ. I spend my evenings at the local community college, taking graduate school classes in education. My days pass at the home computer, the puppy who unexpectedly joined out family this spring at my side. I am applying to as many English and Special Education teaching jobs I can find within an hour’s drive of our home. There are so many openings. Every job offers the possibility of telling the story of the next chapter of my life and a chance to learn from students and colleagues I have yet to meet.
If my life were music, this piece of it reminds me of that song from the movie “Shrek.” The words are by Leonard Cohen, one of the genius balladeers I spent inordinate hours listening to on my bedroom stereo as a teenager. I’m not going to pretend I understand all his words, or that they reflect an orthodoxy of belief. I do love the part that says “I used to live alone before I knew you.” And I understand the Halleluia: Praise God.