Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Well, today is my birthday. I'm 39 years old. And I'm REALLY and legitimately 39 years old. One more year until I enter a new decade.

As I prepare to begin my 40th year, I find myself looking back on the last 20 years or so, and wondering how I got here and is it where I want to be. It's not where I pictured I would be when I was preparing to exit my teen years. It's not where I imagined myself to be 10 years ago. Not even 5 years, even though the perceived direction of my life had already started to change. What (if anything) have I accomplished? What (if anything) is lacking? What can I do to make the next year even better than the ones that preceded it?

20 years ago, I was a college student looking forward to a future as a woman who would have it all. I'd be a successful pediatrician with a family including 4 kids (always envisioned all girls for some reason). It would be a full life, but sitting here now, knowing who I am, probably was always unrealistic. But, in my defense, who doesn't envision their future (as a teenager) with a somewhat unrealistic perspective?

The first thing to go was my career choice. I went through the pre-med program at Brandeis University and survived to tell the tale -- BARELY. I passed all of my courses and was never in danger of not remaining in "good standing". But, I'd have to say that I "survived" the program. But I had wanted to be a doctor from such a young age -- I was probably younger than Rachel and Simon when that aspiration became a goal. I just couldn't bring myself to lose that until after I completed college. Then, shortly after that, I realized that being a medical doctor was not going to happen. But since I had always focused on "medicine" as a career, I really wasn't sure where to go with that and chose epidemiology.

It's amazing how these decisions come into play as one continues to mature. My knowledge of epidemiology and my ability to understand research articles has been invaluable since learning of Rachel's and Simon's issues.

I've always mildly believed in fate. Everything happens for a reason. Every decision we make affects what happens next. We are always in the places that we should be, even if we don't understand why that particular location or decision is/may be important. My decision to not go to medical school but to pursue a Ph.D. in Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh put me in the right place to meet my future husband. Between the time we got engaged and the time we were married, I left the academic program because I realized THAT wasn't the right thing for me to do. But if I didn't pursue it, I wouldn't have met Kevin.

In that same direction, all the work I did in epidemiology gave me the ammunition and knowledge I need to deal with autism in my children. I may not have chosen to pursue a career in "epidemiology" (professionally I was a data manager for a pharmaceutical company before choosing to be a SAHM), but years later, have found myself falling back on my education and training to understand what has happened to my children and what I can do to help them. It may make me opinionated, but I'm able to take information presented to me and make informed decisions as to what the "correct" decision is for me, my children, and my overall family.

So, my life is good. Would I make any changes? Well, there are always things that would be nice if they were different, but everything that is fully in my power (career choice and other decisions I've made), I have no regrets. That is something that I know many others can't say and something that I'm proud of.

Despite all the complaining I've done on this blog for the last year or so, my life is good. This blog has truly become a repository for many of my negative emotions that really can't be put anyplace else. I can't show them to my children because they don't deserve it. And it's not something that my husband is responsible for, therefore, in many cases, nothing that he should be greatly burdened with. But there are times we need to just vent out our anger, frustration, disappointments, etc. This blog is my space to do just that.


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