When I was in high school I thought I wanted to be a physical therapist. My mom was a nurse and people assumed I’d follow in her footsteps, but nursing seemed a little too intense for me. I was still interested in the medical field and had found a different area that seemed to fit me better. I thought my career choice was set…and then I saw a movie that changed my direction completely. The movie was called “A Circle of Children“ based on a book of the same title written by Mary MacCraken. The movie was about a woman who worked with special needs children and it captured my attention in a way that surprised me.
I was just entering my freshman year of college and had to choose a major. I decided to check out what a career in education, specifically special education, would be like. During my first semester I took a class called “early experience” which placed me in a classroom of special needs children at the local school for the disabled. Of course the “labels” have changed several times over the years but back then, the group I worked with was called “moderately mentally retarded.” It was a group of children who would never read or write, some would never even speak clear enough to be understood. I fell in love with these children and knew that this was what I wanted to do.
I finished my degree and took a job in the county program for the handicapped. They didn’t have a position in the children’s department so I was working with adults. I loved what I was doing but was challenged by some of the assumptions that the staff believed defined “normal.” It didn’t take me long to see that I would not fit in this environment. The next year I taught in a public school “specials needs” class while I was expecting my first child.
After I had my first little boy I knew that what I really wanted to do was stay home with him, so that’s what I did. I have been at home raising children ever since. I now have seven sons, four who are married. After a brief time in a Christian school, we brought our oldest son home to learn in the third grade. He is grown and now has six children of his own. We started homeschooling and never looked back. After 26 years I’d like to say that I got it all figured out. But in reality, I was always learning right along with my boys. Each one had a different way of learning and we adjusted accordingly. Every year was something new and different as they each matured and changed in their perspective of life. During most of our homeschooling years we lived in Ohio and Iowa. We are currently living in Florida.
All of my boys are finished with homeschooling now. The oldest is in internet security, the second is in computer support, the third graduated from community college and is in the commercial insurance industry. The fourth is in management at an automobile dealership. All four are excelling at what they do. The younger three are still exploring career options. They are employed, but jobs will likely change as they zero in on their passions.
We became more relaxed in our approach to schooling over the years as we learned that some things are more important than others. We stopped stressing about or striving for achievement as our main goal. We focused on the love of learning and I was amazed at how much more they were willing to learn on their own.
Now that I am officially finished homeschooling, I am beginning to work on some projects that have been on the back burner for many years. I have always loved writing and now that I have the time I am finally putting some things together. I have published one book of devotions called Growing in Godliness and will publish more in this series at a future date. I am also working on my blogs (PracticalHomeschooler.com and SherylMaxey.com) and on some curriculum materials that I hope will be useful to both homeschoolers and school teachers. I have had one story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Yes! and another in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Wonder of Christmas. Besides all of that, since I now have eight grandchildren, I have learned to sew! So far, I have made several quilts, two rag dolls, an apron and some puppets.
As I look back, I am grateful and content with where my life has taken me. How about you? Are you able to look back on your life and see the path that has brought you to where you are today? Perhaps life isn’t where you thought it would be when you were younger. But I believe that our past shapes who we are. You can choose to be bitter about the past or glad for the experiences life has brought you. For me…I’ll choose to be content.