When I was in Jr. High, our English teacher, no doubt ad libbing, brought in a copy of "What Color is Your Parachute." Being 8th graders, we had an uproariously good time mocking the cheesiness of the book while secretly loving the orderly way we could mark of what fit our personalities. How simple it seemed to just hit a bunch of boxes and like magic there was a career suggestion. I no longer remember what the book suggested I do but I do remember going home that afternoon with a slightly panicked feeling that "OMG the whole future is before me and I NEED TO FIND A CAREER." And it was an oppressive feeling of being trapped. It followed me for a few weeks before it disapated as new concerns, like why don't boys like me, replaced it.
But now I feel this terror again. I am almost 39 and all the plans I have made for myself have fallen apart. Not all at once but slowly over time. I wanted to be a writer from about six to 22. That didn't quite pan out. Then I thought I'd become a Special Education teacher because I seemed okay at teaching and it would get me a job. I realized that this career choice while practical filled me that kind of oppressive dread mentioned above so I changed my major the first day of classes to English. And from that moment on, even when I switched to Religious Studies, I foresaw my future as a professor. There were other silly fantasies built around this...a small cottage home, one or two children, a community of intellectuals coming over for dinner and genial discussion.
And now that dream is sort of flopping around in its death throes outside the door.
Life happened in some glorious ways to change that dream. I have four beasties not two well behaved intellectual children. No my children are wild, wonderful, creative, chaotic, clever, and wise. I do not live in a cottage some delicious New England college town. I did marry the brainy guy (bonus that he's hot), and I have read many wonderful books and have many wonderful challenging conversations. BUT....
What do I do now? I am bitter. I admit it. And it's hard to make a choice when you feel bitter. I think I wold love midwifery but worry that I am too old. That we can't afford the course. That I will never find child care for this crazy lifestyle. These worries blend into a real sense of loss that hits me when I'm teaching or talking to Horacio about some Lacain point of theory. When I'm on campus and I see the professors sitting in their offices, giving talks, having their books on display, I feel a deep sadness that this might not ever be me. But when I think about pursing a Ph.D, it feels like a heavy weight. Yes I am scared of further rejection. I do not wish to move my family again nor make H apply for programs while he is the midst of his program. I could do something else at UGA. But there is no joy in these thoughts.
Last night as I was driving home from school, I was in the midst of one those painful moments. There was a talk on campus where everyone in religious studies but me was gathered. One of those who went told me the speaker had waxed on about how a Ph.D got you into places. And oh those words brought a wave of sadness and anger and helplessness. Would I be nothing because I didn't have this degree? But suddenly from the corner of my eye, I saw that a set of office buildings near me had a for lease sign, and I thought, unbidden "If we were still going to be here that would be a great office for a midwife." And the thought lifted up on the lightest of wings.