Friday, May 20, 2011

Ode to My Mother

A New Take on Robert Frost
I love the poem by Robert Frost, two roads diverged in a yellow wood. I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference. It reflects my life.

When I was a senior, my high school counselor advised me not to go to college. She said with a C/B average my grades were proof enough that I was not college material. My mother didn’t agree with that assessment and gave me two choices; be a waitress or go to college. I all ready had enough of waiting tables at a pancake house so I ignored my high school counselor and filled out college applications.

My mother took me to see the college counselor to plan my courses at the Wisconsin State University Eau Claire. I will never forget. During the interview I was asked what career I had chosen. Of course I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life...I only knew what I didn’t want to do. When I opened my mouth to say these words my mother piped up and answered for me, “She wants to be a teacher.”

‘Interesting’, I thought at the time as I nodded my head. And since the only class I had done well in was English, I suddenly had my major. And since I enjoyed Drama Club, I now had my minor. I was all set as I checked into my dorm room with an electric typewriter in one hand and my record player in the other.

Shakespeare held no interest for me and I was within a semester of graduating when everything changed for me. During my practicum, I was placed in a middle school special education classroom. I loved working with those students. We made clocks from paper plates to learn how to tell time, we told stories and then wrote them down, and the students learned about good nutrition by planning well balanced meals. Ah ha! Now I knew what I really wanted to be…a special education teacher. When I told my mother about this, she told me to continue with my laid out plans and wrap things up. I couldn’t do that when my heart was going in a different direction so I left school a semester short of graduating, much to my mother’s horror.

Back home again, in my old pink bedroom, I started working at a resort as a receptionist. For two years I did this thankless job, knowing my dream of teaching was slipping further and further away. I had to do something myself in order to change my destiny.

I stopped buying myself clothes, I rarely went anywhere with my friends and socked away nearly every dime I made until there was enough money to return to college. The first trip to college was on my mother’s money; going back I paid my own way. Now I enrolled at UW Whitewater. This time around I paid closer attention in class and took great pride in learning.

A year later I graduated with a double major in English and Special Education, with a minor in theater. Time hadn’t been wasted after all. I was able to use all my credits and apply them toward my goal. Since that time I have earned four teaching certificates and have taught every grade from kindergarten through high school. My career has spanned nearly twenty-five years. Presently I am the Special Education Coordinator at a state facility for at risk teens that have been expelled from their school or court ordered to be there. I also have three fictional books published because of my love of literature. My life is filled with meaning.

Way back in high school my school counselor predicted a constricted future for me based on past grades. Her vision was narrow. She never took the time to see what possibilities lay within me. I was blessed to have a mother who saw great things and pushed me in the right direction. Along the way I was able to catch my own vision. Two roads diverged, my mother’s insight and my determination, and that has made all the difference.