This was a question I remember being asked at various points during my childhood. Looking back at what I wrote aged 7 (I have a project I did then) it appears I wanted to be a teacher and a Mummy. In some ways both are now true – ok I am a university lecturer rather than a school teacher which I suspect I was thinking about. My mother is a retired teacher and my sister is a teacher – along with me being a school governor as well as an academic.
What I did have to deal with to a level growing up was the assumption (still) that as a girl I would not being going down the science route. I was good at all academic subjects at school so when it came to GCSE options it was a real dilemma – I already knew what A levels I wanted to do (even then I knew I was heading science-ward) – but GCSEs were more traumatic as I could have done pretty much anything (other than Art & DT). I did want to do all three sciences so that left me two options (had to do Maths, both Englishs & a language) – you would not believe how much time it took me to decide to opt for a second language & Music. Even with the unseen pressure I was still able to stick to my science route – did help that I was pretty much always first (or second) in the year in the subjects.
It’s funny – at 13 (third year secondary/Yr9) my physics teacher predicted I would be going to Girton to do Physics. Wrong college but I did start off intending to do Physics before deciding 18 months into my university career I actually wanted to be an engineer which today (when not on adoption leave) is what I lecture in and do research in. Lecturing I fell into by accident almost – I did my first degree (4 yrs), then did another Masters course, then went to USA for a year and came back to my current university on a 6 month researcher contract. Come September I will have been there 15 years – my PhD was done as a member of staff and I am still happy there if fed up with the politics at times. One of something like 10 females in the entire faculty (which covers engineering, computer science, maths, digital media & design). I am so used to be a female in a male world that I don’t even notice these days.
I seem to have by default ended up in education but being a Mummy is something that has been an interesting path. I was told at 26/7 that the likelihood of me having children naturally after 30 was small so I made the decision then to adopt as a single person if I got to 35. 3 weeks before my 31st birthday I met my DH and 11 months later we were married. Following trying and going through investigations we started out on our first tentative steps in December 2011 with an almost immediate hiatus as it was realised I needed to deal with left over issues from my childhood (emotional bullying) – so it was late October 2012 we eventually applied and a within a year we were approved and Sqk was with us. I am his Mummy even if legally the system hasn’t yet given us the formal bit of paper. Our adoption order case was adjourned again on Friday (well actually earlier than that but we didn’t find out till Friday) as the judge had forgotten to allow for the 2 week notice period for the birth parents. As yet we still await our new date but looking like it could be 4 months from applying for the order to it being granted. But as one of the other adoptive Mums I know said to me on Friday (I happened to be at Adoption Stay & Play when I got this news) – Sqk is yours already – the order is just the legal acknowledgement of that.
Sqk is too young to really know what he wants to be when he grows up – whatever it is he will have our support. We’ve said all along provided he can lead a happy independent life we will support him in whatever he wants to be. This was the answer we gave to inevitable question at approval panel (I have a PhD – DH has a Masters degree) and continues to be our answer to this day.