"What do you want to be when you grow up?" I can still recall the intense feelings of anxiety I felt as a child whenever this question was posed to me by an adult. How in the world did I know what I wanted to be when I grew up? As an obedient middle class young lady coming of age in the 60's, I wanted to grow up "to be" whatever my parents told me I wanted to be!
My mother always believed a woman should have a career (as well as a husband and children). Thus, she decided that speech therapy was the most suitable career path for me to follow. She believed that as a speech pathologist, I could maintain a part time practice after marriage and children. She reasoned that by working part time, I would be in a position to maintain my independence as well as be home for the children after school.
My father, on the other hand, had loftier goals for me. His dream was for me to go to college, followed immediately by law school. He visualized me practicing law until I became a judge. This, of course, was his unrealized dream for himself.
Amazing as it may seem, I never thought to ask myself, what exactly did I what to do? As an undergraduate student, I did major in speech therapy. Upon graduation I chose not to work as a speech pathologist but rather located a sales position. My family was shocked at my rebellion but I was supporting myself and there was little that they could do. It was difficult for them to accept that their dreams were not mine.
It took awhile before I came to understand that dreams can and even should change. Eventually I decided that I wanted to attend graduate school and applied for a Masters program in counseling. As part of the admissions process, it was required that each student have an interview with the Program Director. The Director grilled me about my "unstable" work history (I had majored in speech therapy, worked in sales and now was considering the field of counseling). As a condition of acceptance into the program, I had to agree to make a firm commitment to the field. The Director felt it was unfair to offer a spot in the program to someone who might not remain in the field. I did make the commitment and worked as a counselor for approximately five years.
After a time, I came to realize that I did want to attend law school. I came to accept that it was my dream and not just my father's. By the time I enrolled in law school I had a husband and hoped to eventually have children. I gave birth to my first child while attending law school and attended graduation pregnant with our second child. Our third child was born not too long after.