Making a difference
There is a new wrinkle on my morning commute.
The intersection at Acacia and Highway 20 has become important enough — or dangerous enough, to be more accurate — to merit a stop light. The improvements to the intersection also included widening the road and installing a turn lane.
Traffic seems to be flowing pretty smoothly, and I'm glad to have the light in place. Too many times, I have seen someone pull out onto the highway, frantic to get ahead of oncoming traffic in order to save 12 seconds on the morning commute. Occasionally, I even wondered if I might become the statistic that authorized the construction. I want my life to count for something, but I'd prefer to make a difference while staying alive if I can.
I wonder sometimes about making a difference. Wiping fingerprints off the walls and sweeping behind the toilet can be thankless tasks. Making dinner usually gets a few comments, though not all of those are compliments. "I don't mean to hurt your feelings," my daughter said, "but dinner tasted a little burned."
There are also comments about the quality of the ingredients ("I don't like beans") and requests for special accommodations ("Can I have mine without the tortilla?"). None of those make me feel loved and appreciated. Sure, my kids are well fed, even if they don't eat burned beans and tortillas, but is any of it worth the effort?
I started out, in the time before kids, as a speech pathologist. My goal was simple. I was going to save the world through speech therapy. In my fresh-out-of-college world, people got better. I wasn't always prepared for the reality that "getting better" is sometimes a very subjective assessment.
A child who spoke his first word at age 4 is still better than at age 3, but that one word doesn't go very far. A stroke patient who regains the ability to swallow pureed food is still better than he was on a feeding tube, but even filet mignon through the blender isn't much fun.
I didn't learn much from the realities of career life. When the children came along, I was on a new adventure, planning to save the world through parenting and homeschooling. I was going to do all of that while juggling a part-time career. An eternal optimist, I like to call myself. As a small-business owner, I could set my own hours, take my children to work with me and bring along their school work.
My office closed just over a year ago, a circumstance of a shrinking economy and lost contracts. I focused on home and family, and I loved it. I could snuggle a restless child at 2 a.m. without having to worry about the morning alarm clock. We cleaned out bookcases and discarded the mountain of mostly finished workbooks. And then, it was time to go back to work.
Tearing myself away, even for a few hours a week, has been difficult. My career as a speech pathologist is kind of like a jealous mistress. Wanting all of my time, she calls to me with interesting cases and prospects for improvement.
Once at home, the order is reversed. Baking cookies and reading books is more pressing than getting ready for work. My 2-year-old says, "I want to go wif you," and I melt inside.
It is the dilemma many mothers face, trying to balance work and home. Here I am, walking the tightrope, hoping to make a difference — one patient and one burned burrito at a time.
Rose Godfrey is a speech pathologist and homeschooling mom in Meridian. Her homeschool blog can be found on the Appeal-Democrat website at appealdemocrat.com.