DAILY PROMPT: SWEET SIXTEEN EXPECTATIONS
This post is a response to the January 21, 2013, WordPress Daily Prompt: Sweet Sixteen.
When I look back at my Sweet Sixteen I recall my life expectations. There were two. First, I planned to be a teacher. Second, I wanted to have twelve children.
A half-century later the better part of my life is past. How did it go?
ON BEING A TEACHER
My first dream was shattered when Buffalo State Teacher’s College rejected my application. In light of the fact that they allegedly rejected few applications, I was stymied, and still am, over that rejection. But life being what it was, I had to move on.
I was sixteen when I received a prestigious (high school) research fellowship at Roswell Park Memorial Institute, where I volunteered in the patient library. I knew this would set my path for life—or at least guarantee me a proper job with the right degree. So I signed up for the medical laboratory program at Erie County Technical Institute. And I was right—listing the fellowship on my first job applications secured me positions.
However, I soon learned the chemicals I was dealing with weren’t good for me, so I returned to school, the University of Buffalo, to study occupational therapy. After I met my husband, Monte, I applied for a part time job in his research lab. I didn’t take the job, but I did accept a date. When we married I changed my major to sociology.
The multiple paths I took after being rejected by Buff State took me into medical fields and human service fields. I’ve been heavily involved in the adoption and domestic violence fields. My medical background proved valuable to both.
Ironically, I found myself teaching classes in domestic violence and child abuse. I offered preschool classes to children when I operated a family child care home, and I taught others about family child care under a community grant. Ultimately, I did become a teacher—as we all do when we teach something to another person.
ON PARENTING TWELVE CHILDREN
Yes, I was only sixteen. But twelve children?
I was very comfortable around children, since my mother began her second family when I was eleven—having four children in five years (her fifth was born after I left home). I was competent doing child care, a major source of income in my younger days.What happened to that expectation? It didn’t seem unreasonable considering my mother’s fertility.
However, I hadn’t downloaded some pertinent information. An emergency appendectomy at age seven did disastrous things to my body. Result: infertility.
Adoption wasn’t a foreign idea. I had always wanted to adopt children (even though I was unsavvy about bearing twelve children), so changing direction was easy enough, even though there was significant mourning at the loss of experiencing creation of life. Daughter Sandy was a welcome bundle of joy.
Somehow, I found myself pregnant a year later, and my son Nolan was born on a wintry January morning, just before a winter storm.
Two children. And shattered expectation, which had reduced itself to three or four children.
Only recently have I understood the larger picture. I have had many more children pass through my life, if only temporarily.
My third child is a daughter who probably shared Sandy’s hospital room. Kathleen was born five days after Sandy, and her adoptive mother and I developed a sister relationship. We agreed that if something happened to one of us the other would step in. Kathleen’s mother collapsed when running one morning, and her father died a few years later. Now I had three children.
Gary came into my life from a difficult background which separates him from his family. I became his surrogate mom.
Temporary children include three sisters, Becky, Dora and Melissa; Frankie; Lori; Christine; Jared; Kevin…the longer I think about it the more names I recall.
I played a role in these people’s lives by being a surrogate, substitute or alternate mother. Yes, I did have my dozen children.
The expectations I had at age sixteen did get met. However, they weren’t met in the way I predicted, or even realized they were being met along my journey.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR SIXTEEN YEAR OLD EXPECTATIONS?
Examine your life. Have the expectations you had at age sixteen been met? No? Review your life. Perhaps they were, but in a very different and extraordinary way. If so, share your thoughts with my readers and me in the comment box at the end of this post.