I often joke that if you told me six years ago that I would be making my living in selling “bedroom accessories” (Read: sex toys) that I would not have believed you. It’s true. This is definitely not a path I ever saw myself on, but it’s one I’m glad I’ve taken and I’ve found that the uncommon road is often the most rewarding.
Motherhood has kicked my butt
I don’t know about the rest of you, but even though I always wanted to be a mother, I really had no clue what I was getting into. Like a lot of moms of my generation, I had tons of ideas. I would be a crunchy, natural birthing, breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, and earthy, attached mama extraordinaire. (Yeah, I know, looking back, I’m annoyed by me too.) I accomplished a lot of that, but instead of being rewarded with the contented dream baby I was expecting, I got a colicky, allergic to everything, form of extreme sleep-deprivation in the body of cherub. There was no formula = magic mothering bullet. I had to make the best of the kid I got.
My firstborn is a bit of a puzzle. He spoke 100 words by age one but didn’t walk until he was 18 months. This sort of disparity continues to this day. He’s way ahead in some things, and significantly delayed in others. I worried about his extreme shyness and fear of trying new things. The idealist I am prone to be, I chose to send him to hippy Montessori school. If you are not familiar with the model, a brief description is that they don’t have grades and tests and the kids are encouraged to work at their own pace as they develop. I knew he would have trouble in a typical sit-at-your-desk keep-up-with-the-class sort of environment, and I don’t seem much value in pushing kids to do more earlier. Don’t even get me started on homework. (Read: I’m totally against it.) It was hard to push my anxiety aside though. I waited for him to learn how to read and fretted. At the end of first grade, I took him to the public school district for testing. They had no clue what to make of the weird school I had sent my son to and recommended that he be put into a remedial public school classroom for second grade.
I was devastated.
Had I wasted precious time sending my kid to the wrong school all along? Did I not push him enough? Was he never going to learn without the intensive help of a special education classroom? When I sent him to the Montessori school, it was because I really believed in their methodology. It’s not generally “what people do”. Most people send their kid to the local traditional school and don’t think much more of it. What we decided to do was weird. The school district thought it was inadequate. My mother-in-law thought it was very fruity. I was really worried they were right.
After a great deal of thought, we decided to keep my son at the Montessori school. I just felt strongly that we hadn’t seen it through and that he still needed time to develop on his own. I just needed to be patient.
I held my breath coming up to the first parent-teacher conference. I had heard back from the teachers already about how well he was doing and this gave me hope. Then I would run into a friend whose child was in the special ed classroom my son would have been in and she was happy too. Doubt loomed.
I paced anxiously outside of the classroom as parents do everywhere no matter what sort of school it is. And like every parent everywhere, I was ushered into the room and sat on a tiny chair and a table that was too low for me.
“He’s doing great,” the teacher assured me. “Look.” She put an open journal on the table next to me. On the page was a scribbled drawing of a train and on the lines underneath in my son’s shaky handwriting were the words, “Lights help trains see in dark tunnels.”
“He wrote this? By himself?” I was trying not to cry.
The teacher laughed and smiled. “You know, we all think that he’s a genius. He’s going to catch up and he’s going to be amazing.”
I went home heart full of joy and feeling grateful that we stayed our course.
Choose the Uncommon Road
This school was admittedly, the uncommon road. I believed it was right. It felt right, but doubt is a pesky thing. It whispers to us that we cannot wait for results, that we should give up now, that what we’ve chosen is too weird and people will laugh at and judge us.
We’re afraid to take the uncommon road and we shouldn’t be. At the end of such paths are amazing things we’d never see if hadn’t take them.
Do you have a dream? A thing you want to do or try that’s an uncommon road? Tell me about it.