When I was a little girl, I never wore shoes. I was loud and liked to lay upside-down on my grandmother’s couch and put my feet on her walls. I loved picking berries, going fishing with Grandpa, exploring the woods with my brother, and eating beets with mayonnaise and lettuce sandwiches from my grandparents’ garden.
When I got to school, my best friend was smarter than me and I envied her extra credit ocean creatures workbook. I persuaded the teacher to give me my own and loved it, even though it was too hard. In 3rd grade, I discovered Nancy Drew, and never got through the long division worksheets. I loved building and watching fires on weekends at our lake lot.
We moved. I was bullied and retreated farther into books. I became quiet and I discovered Narnia. We moved again, I started puberty and was happier reading in the library than playing outside at recess. In one year, I read more books than anyone else had read in their six years of elementary school. I failed 6th grade math and science. I got my desperately-needed glasses and made some friends.
In middle school, my math teacher discovered I was bored and bumped me to high school algebra. I had some excellent teachers and discovered Little House on the Prairie. I got a 26 on my ACT college entrance exam in 8th grade. I wanted to be a librarian.
At 12, I planted veggies and roses and killed everything with neglect. I cooked supper for my family every day after school, so my parents could come home to food on the table. I wanted to save the world.
In high school, I took Chemistry from Mr. Hall. He made everyone memorize the periodic table, and when we started to look bored, would set something on fire. I learned the different colors of fireworks came from different elements burning. He also taught physics, and we shot a spud gun in the football field to test physical laws. I spent my sophomore year reading literary classics for fun, and read a book a day. I got a 32 on my ACT and applied to colleges.
In college, I was a Chem Demon (chemistry demonstrator) and finally got over my fear of public speaking by setting things on fire in front of a hundred people. I loved knowing my profs and enjoyed nearly every class. I met my husband and married him after we graduated, both of us were “Best Chemistry Student” 4 years in a row (he was the year behind me). We headed to grad school.
I was surrounded by brilliant profs with no time to talk, and took useless classes while I struggled to define a project. I fell asleep reading scientific articles. I enjoyed teaching Biochem Lab, though I had never taken it as an undergrad. I successfully presented my prelim to my committee that loved me, but I still wasn’t happy. I wanted to MAKE something, DO something useful! I gave birth to my son and realized I was happier spending a bad day with him than a good day in lab. I wrote my Masters thesis, graduated, and had my second son a few years later.
Now, I’m home with my boys (ages 4 and 2). I read lots of parenting books at first, and observed their reactions to various parenting methods until I found ways that worked. Oldest boy requires regular sleep, healthy food, and just enough exercise or else his little brain turns off his reasoning center and a TANTRUM is imminent. Youngest boy does well with his brother’s schedule, but he is much easier and happier. And more stubborn. I am so happy to be able to cook a decent meal every night, and eat it at our dining room table. I do 90% of the shopping and invest our savings in a diversified portfolio of mutual funds. I analyze my household chores and determine the most efficient ways to complete them. I listen to Science Friday podcasts while doing dishes. The boys are asleep by 8:00 pm every night, so DH and I have quiet kid-free time to unwind and catch up with each other.
We moved to a house with a yard (50′ x 150′, minus the 30’x30′ house) nearly 2 years ago, and I’ve read almost every gardening book in our library system. I’ve put in raised beds for veggies, 14 fruit trees, 20 fruit bushes, and my favorite flowers here and there. I volunteer to prune the fruits at a public garden in town. I just turned 30. I love picking berries, fishing with my oldest boy, hiking with my husband, eating roasted beet salads and home-grown lettuce sandwiches. My kids never wear shoes. I still want to save the world, but I’ll start with my own little corner and my own little boys. Only God knows what I’ll do when I return to paid work.
I am a mom, wife, gardener, iron chef, cleaning lady, and financial analyst.