My Story Began in the Soviet Union.
I was born in 1968 in the Soviet Union, the city of Leningrad. I was 1 year young when I met my future husband.
Back then, I had no clue how our life paths will merge. We were friends and classmates in a typical Soviet elementary and middle school. The second language taught in our school was German.
Back then, we still didn’t know that our relationship could ever cross the line of the friendship. For the High school, we went in different directions, but the buildings we lived in were still across the driveway from each other, and we would often meet after school.
My high school was specialized in math and physics education. It was a prestigious school in Leningrad. After graduation, I easily passed entrance exams to the University of Airspace Instruments to major in computer science. This was 1985.
Back then, in the Soviet Union, computers were still giant mainframes that utilized punched cards. I soon realized that I don’t want to spend most of my life with these metal soulless giants; I want to work with people. I switched my occupation to be a school teacher.
My husband-to-be went to a vocational high school. He became a milling machine operator. Shortly before he was drafted into the military service, our romance began.
We got married soon after his return and gave our word to his mother to stay in Russia with her and my mother, and not reunite with my sister and her family, who previously emigrated to the United States. Two years later, our beautiful baby boy was born.
By then, I visited Germany twice and my German language was good enough to get me around and provide basic understanding in communication with our German friends. My husband has proved to have no special talent for foreign languages.
Back then, we didn’t know that despite my perfect full-term-no-known-health-issues pregnancy, our baby was born with severe brain malformations, and totally blind due to the underdevelopment of both optic nerves (they are also part of the brain).
Back then, we didn’t know that in a few months, we’ll have to break our word given to my mother-in-law and leave our country seeking quality life for our child in the United States. Obviously, we were not ready: no suitable occupation, no English knowledge, no money, and no friends in the US aside from my sister.
Back then, we didn’t know that in a few months the Soviet Union will fall and our beautiful, but at the time poor and dirty city will be renamed back to Saint Petersburg.
My mother, my family and I arrived in Boston, MA in November 1992. We left behind my mother-in-law and her older son with his family.
Back then, we had very little hope to see them again soon or ever.
Back then, my husband and I were 24 years old each, and our boy was 1.5. Among three of us, we shared the exact age I am in at the time of writing this post.
My Life in the United States.
I will not dive into the details involved in starting our new life. In short, I had to forget German and learn English in no time (German was getting in the way of learning a new language). We had to apply for the services for our handicapped baby (I never expected such help to exist and was very grateful!). We had to prove our son’s necessity in the services of the Perkins School for the Blind (I never expected to fight for it; I thought that he’d be placed automatically just because he was totally blind). We were lucky to quickly find minimum wage jobs. We were lucky to meet many kind and caring people. We were lucky to soon make a few Russian-speaking friends, and keep these friendships until this day.
My first job in the United States was as a photographer & photo lab technician. It was a minimum wage job in the tourists’ place in downtown Boston. My mother helped us by taking care of her grandson after his school until we come home from work. When I learned English enough to go back to school, I had to return to the Information Technology field as my language skills were still not good enough to fluently and confidently communicate with humans. Luckily by that time, computers became smaller, less noisy, and more user-friendly. In 1997, I found my first professional job in the US as a software engineer. I had an awesome IT career, which was cut just a bit short of 20 years. The last position I held was a full-time job, which I performed from my home office. It provided me with a more or less flexible schedule, great benefits, and a 6-digit annual salary.
Everything comes to an end. My blind, autistic and musically gifted son was two years into his 4 years studies at the Berklee College of Music when my employer announced an acquisition of our department. We were warned 3 years in advance that our jobs will be terminated. Many people found other jobs and quit before this happened. I decided to stay to the end because I paid my son’s college tuition from my salary (I never thought he’d be able to go to a college and savings for the education were never my priority). I didn’t want to add more stress starting a new job, I had enough problems with organizing my son’s physical presence in the college classes. I needed to be home throughout the day because taking care of him was now difficult for my aging mother. We finished Berklee! He received his summa cum laude diploma! Mission accomplished. My job was terminated a year after his graduation. I have no reason to be disappointed with my last employer. They were fair and loyal to me. Everything comes to the end and opens new opportunities.
My True Passion Is in Teaching
My husband’s American occupation is a computer hardware/network engineer. He is employed full time, but because he works for a non-profit organization that serves people with disabilities, his salary is not high.
I was good at my work; I liked software development. Though, I never loved it. I had responsibilities.
I had to bring up my son as a positive, happy, brave, educated and skillful to his own limits young man. I had to support and expand whatever talents he had, push forward and maximize the development of the skills that were weak or completely missing. I fulfilled my financial responsibilities: we gave him the proper education, one-on-one training in lots of physical activities that he loves, world travel and exploration through the personal experience. Our son doesn’t depend on us financially anymore. He still lives with us, and we are the family that shares the budget. Of course, there is no such thing as “extra money”, but if we were no longer able to provide financial support to him, he would not be in a real hardship because he works and earns some income, and receives help from the government organizations.
Our son is now 26 years old. He still needs my mentoring and organizational management, but he is more independent than I could ever imagine that someone with his medical conditions could be. However, there are certain limits in his comprehension, decision-making and daily living skills. We can leave him home alone, and if nothing goes out of the routine, he can be fine for the whole day. However, if something goes in a wrong direction (he accidentally broke a glass, spilled a drink on the floor, a stranger knocked on the door, etc.), he’d be confused, scared, disoriented and behaving inadequately. We can’t leave him alone from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day. I need to work from home and be my own boss.
I always wanted to share my knowledge and help others. Teaching job back in the Soviet Union was my passion. It paid me close to nothing, but I didn’t count hours preparing for classes, teaching, checking students’ comprehension, helping them with their homework, playing with kids in the afterschool program, taking them to the theaters and museums during the weekends.
The ideal deal would be to do something that we are passionate about and yet get well rewarded. Would you agree? I’ve developed this website to share with you exactly how I am going to achieve my goals. If you need a hand or have any questions, please leave them below and I’ll be more than happy to help you out.
All the best,