Friday, March 8, 2013



Doc and I vs. Doc or I. Who gets to live their dreams? I’ve been living in a land of “or”. I’m not sure when my thoughts shifted that way, but they did.

Before we had children, Doc and I both worked towards our goals. We were capable of give and take to ensure that both of us were making progress towards our goals. Back in those days, I had some lofty goals. I wanted to get a PhD and work in the land of curriculum development. I was going to go to school and teach and be a mom and it was going to be wonderful. Then one day, I was going to get to do my dream job of writing curriculum and helping integrate writing and publishing science and mathematics for elementary and middle school classrooms.

But, with Doc working such sporadic hours while in residency and our beautiful little girl, we had to have a period of “or”. I could work for a while, pushing towards a position in my dream area. Doc would complete his residency, and we’d move from there. It needed to be Doc’s turn. I tried to think that hopefully, it could be my turn later.

Then Rowan came along, and the “or” in our life was bolded and bumped up. Doc worked on his goals because they were ones we couldn’t afford to stall. We had to pay for the cost of Rowan’s care. We had to pay to keep living. I quit working. Someone had to be home. It was him or me and I was the only one who made good sense. My work didn’t have great health insurance and I didn’t make what Doc did. There wasn’t even really a choice. I’m not bitter at the decision we made. We were lucky to be in a position that we had a way to take care of our little boy while he was here. We made sacrifices that were well worth it.

When Rowan died it was almost impossible for me to think of that world I’d lived in before where my dreams were possible. It seemed wrong. That world was only opening up again because my son was gone. If he was here, I’d never have had those opportunities. I felt sick when I thought about pursuing dreams. I felt guilty when it didn’t make me sick to think about them. But time has passed. My time in therapy has helped me work past feeling that I couldn’t move forward.

When I think about Rowan’s life, I do think about how my love of science and math helped me. I had to convert doses and measure medications and develop the capacity to have informed conversations on scientific topics I had no real previous knowledge of. I had the basic skills to teach myself. I had the tools. I read, researched, asked questions, developed new skills…

My point is, science helped me take care of my son and make what I believe were the best medical decisions for him. It gave me some sort of guidance in a world where I felt lost. I was able to navigate something I hadn’t understood before. I could share our journey with others. I could teach the subject to others because I understood it well enough to communicate it which somehow made the situation less lonely. It gave me power in a powerless situation, and isn’t that what I want everyone to be able to do? Isn’t this what I want to carry to my classroom and all classrooms I can?

I can picture students participating in the scientific community! Online blogs, student reflections and reports, sharing through social media, and reading amazing and wonderful developments with the capacity and passion to do so. Why shouldn’t they? They are children, but they are capable. They have a curiosity in them still that needs to be fostered and fanned into a flame that survives adolescence and teen years.

When did memorizing math facts and reading a chapter and answering flat questions ever make you want to delve and explore? Do we do that as adults?

I had dreams before my son was born. I still have them. It’s okay for me to have them. And isn’t this dream honoring Rowan in a way? I think it is.

And it occurred to me that my world isn’t an “or” world right now. Doc is going to finish residency after one more academic year. I want to teach for that year. And after? I want to start working on my masters. After residency Doc is free. Free to follow me and find work where I find a graduate program.

I put myself in this box that didn’t allow me to step up and reach for something higher. I say that I put myself in a box because Doc has always supported an “and” for us. I  revisited the topic of graduate school to Doc for the first time in a few years, this was about how the conversation went.

Me: So I was thinking about starting work on graduate school.

Doc: Hm mm

Me: And I thought that maybe when you finished residency it would be a great time for me to start. So I thought I could start researching programs and work on applying next year to start August 2014.

Doc: Ok. That would work.

Me: Would you be willing to find a job based on where I was accepted to school?

Doc: Yep.

Me: Would you stay in Tulsa if I went to school here?

Doc: (no hesitation) Yes.

It means a lot to my husband to live somewhere different. When he said he’d stay without hesitation that he’d drop that goal for a while if it meant I could work towards my dreams, it reminded me of why I gave up my thoughts of never marrying for him. He’s willing to live in an “or” world for me so that we can live in “and”land as often as possible.

So that’s where we are heading now. I’m researching graduate schools and studying for the GRE.


We’re on our way again.

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