Tuesday, February 18, 2014


In 33 years I had never once spent a night alone. The house was always filled with the noise and demands of a family. Whether cooking pans of lasagna and dozens of bread sticks or chauffeuring pre-teens to endless activities, it was just part of the job. The housework, the homework, the wash, the shopping, it was exhausting... but I loved being the hub of the wheel.

The laughter and activities of my children made me feel young. I was needed... in fact I was vital. What I didn't realize was that I was working myself out of a job.

One by one they departed for education and careers and families of their own. When my last son was the only one left I worried he would be a "lonely only."  As it turned out, watching him navigate his way through his last years of high school was a treasure.  We discussed everything from the literature in his AP English class to science (which I always pretended to understand) to religion. Sitting in a darkened school auditorium, I cried when he appeared singing the opening number from Les Miserables and when all 20 plus of his friends received scholarships to colleges I marveled at the company he kept.

Then it was his turn to go and simultaneously my husband left.

I had lost myself in my family and now I was suddenly single in a great big house that was way too quiet. Without them, I had no idea who I was. A ship without a rudder, the only companionship I had was the pleasure of my own company and I wasn't all that interesting.

Getting a job was one of the things that saved me. I was the school librarian but I also taught math for an hour each day.  I remembered... I love teaching.  I remembered... I love children's literature. And then serendipitously I discovered... I LOVE HISTORY.  Life got better.

Because I had been out of the schools for so many years I had to take a major test called THE PRAXIS. I was expected to know everything that was taught K-6. I studied and took practice tests and that same youngest son and his wife came weekly for three months to help me prepare for science and math. I was a wreck, keeping all those facts straight... it was hard.

Test day arrived. I sat in a college lecture hall with several hundred people and for two hours wrote as fast as I could. When I read the question... "What is the result of the earth tilting on an axis?"  I wanted to stand up and yell... "I know this one... it makes the seasons."  I refrained and filled in my answer.

I left the hall exhausted but exhilarated. I had no idea if I had passed the test but I KNEW I was smarter that I had been three months ago.  It was a light bulb moment. I could still learn, maybe I was even bright. I liked myself a little more.

I did pass the test and thanks to that experience I see myself and my potential in a whole new way. I try to learn something everyday. Just taught PRIME FACTORIZATION for the first time to a class of 5th graders. WOW... it was cool!

I'm NOT boring... who knew?  In fact I really do enjoy the pleasure of my company!