As I sat at my sewing machine removing stitches for the third time from a quilt that I’d been working on, I thought about how much in my life has been about doing, undoing, and redoing. Stitch, rip out, stitch again, only to rip out and stitch again until it is right.
My profession is like that, too. I write once but rewrite over and over. I really don’t mind the undoing and redoing because I then have an opportunity to write it better the second or third or fourth or fifth time. I can step away and see what I’ve written from a different perspective. In the end, I have a product I’m proud to put my name on.
Looking back, I see that my education was sort of a redo, as well. I did not attend college after high school but instead married two years later. My parents actually discouraged a higher education for me. What was the point, they asked? Being a good wife and mother was the ultimate goal. It was the early 70s, the end of a period when women were raised solely to be housewives and mothers.
Both of my grandmothers worked while raising their families. But my mother, and most women of her generation, did not. During the first couple of decades after World War II, men returned home and back into the workforce replacing the women who took over for them while they were gone. The working mom was the exception, and she was often looked down upon by other women.
My mother attended college for three years and worked as a chemist for General Foods before marrying and giving birth to her firstborn, my brother. I never understood why my mother never returned to complete her college education or wanted to work again.
Nor did she understand my desire to do so. She agreed with my then-husband that returning to school was a waste of family money.
But I longed for more. My solution was to apply for every available scholarship. I ended up with much more money than needed for junior college. Progress was slow as I’d take one class at a time. It was 18 years before I’d completed an associates, bachelor’s, and master’s degree. During those years, I had three children, divorced, worked, and remarried.
School had to be squeezed in between other priorities, my children being the most important. Most likely, earning those degrees immediately after high school would have been easier, but I was fortune to have the opportunity and perseverance to accomplish it later.
Unfortunately, we can’t completely redo every decision we make. Some have lifelong repercussions. Those are the times that require major alterations and adjustments. We often can get where we want to go, however it may be via the long and winding road.
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