I was probably in my early 20s when I first read the Louisa May Alcott quote, “I could have been a great many things,” I thought, “Yes! That’s me.”
I’m a teacher. I grew up watching my teachers, thinking about how I would do things the same or differently, how I’d decorate my classroom, how I’d manage the behavior of my students. I played school, organized school supplies in this little basement classroom I’d set up. I tried to teach my brother hand-writing. He’s a doctor. I should have known. I graduate from college, armed with jumpers and turtlenecks, Diet Coke, a label maker and more enthusiasm than was tolerable. I dove into pedagogy, researching best practices, writing novel curriculums for three grade levels, and taking on free tutoring clients to try new skills. While I escaped the bureaucracy of public schools after only three years, I nearly taught every grade between K and 12 in those valuable three years.
I’m a girl. I am the most me in chlorinated water. Give me goggles and a lap lane, and I’ll be quiet for at least an hour. Saltwater fuels me when accompanied by a surfboard. I can write a dry, pithy legal brief and sew a king-sized quilt. I don’t watch TV, but I rarely start my morning sans Today Show. I love travel adventures but can sit by a pool longer than any friend I have. I muddle my way through Kentucky Winter by taking at least two hot baths a day, reading, and heading toward warmth any time the kids have a day off school. Between the ages of about 6 and 9, my favorite shirt said, “Girls can do anything!” I took that pretty literally and mutter those words nearly every day upon waking.
I’m an advocate. I was fifteen when my wave-runner exploded, leaving me with four broken vertebrae. I carry that pain, emotional and physical, into every day, learning from it, listening to it, but ultimately choosing joy. On receiving the diagnosis of Down syndrome moments after my second son was born, I immediately asked what we did next. I hit the ground running, learning about Down syndrome, listening to the disability community, searching out different perspectives, and doing something. I speak for my son when he doesn’t have the words. I do for my son when he can’t, and I empower him when he can. Mostly I stand back and let him shine, modeling the self-advocacy I learned fifteen years before his birth. I know injustice, inequity, inequality. I experience. I feel it. I do something about it.
I’m a lawyer. I left the classroom looking for a learning opportunity. I went to law school, figuring I’d land in a corporate job where I could use my German. Three years later, I walked out of law school into an economic recession and dove into building a private practice alongside my dad. Slowly, I whittled my practice down from a true small down general practice to what I do now. I work almost exclusively with families that have children with disabilities in special education, family law, and estate planning matters.
I’m a mom. Of all my jobs. Of all of my interests and hobbies and loves, I know I’m best at mothering. Being a mom is all I ever wanted to be. My boys and I swim every second we are able. We believe baseball is a way of life, and our baseball team is family. Our dinner table is happiest when we have extra boys – baseball players, swimmers, neighbors. We golf and fish, because that’s important to our Daddio, but quiet sports are hard. We travel, mostly to the Florida Keys where we ride bikes, listen to music, go to the park twice a day, and eat good food. We feel, diving into topics of inequity by reading, watching, doing, and feeling.
There’s a lot in this heart of mine. Yes, girls can do anything. Except change a doctor’s handwriting.