When I grow up

Me - year one

Me – year one

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Every child must hear this question fairly often.  I know I sure did.  And now that I am grown up, my life plans really are different from how I dreamed they might be.

Someone once said, “Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans.”

True. I think that when you pass a certain milestone birthday, you start to evaluate and re-evaluate your life plans because life doesn’t turn out quite the way you planned it.

That milestone is different for each individual.  Maybe this occurs when you turn 30 and you make a bucket list of all the things you want to accomplish. 

Or it might happen at 40, when you initiate a new exercise program for yourself.  At 50, you might suddenly consider that it’s time to stop and smell the roses on your busy road of life.  Maybe retirement age provides you pause for thought.

For me, this 50’s decade proves to be an eye opener.  I was born in the 1950’s so maybe that’s why I have this propensity to be retrospective in my 50’s.  But then again, perhaps it’s simply because both the empty nest and loss of my parents slammed into me while heading into this decade.

All I know is I seem to devote a great deal of time pondering over my life, where’s it’s been and where it’s going.

As a youngster, my life goals were simple because they centered around two grand plans.  Either I was going to be a famous actress or a famous writer.  Well…neither of those plans came to fruition.  Unless you count the dramatic and over the top way I can relate a story to a classroom of middle schoolers. 

But alas, I am not famous for that.  And no great distinction has landed on my doorstep because of my writing – certainly not here in my humble little blog.

During my teenage years, I don’t think I really considered my future too seriously other than attending college after high school graduation.  Unless you count my hopes of meeting and marrying Monkee Davy Jones! 

College  launched me into a different path and my career goals morphed into living the single life, unmarried and without children, becoming an extraordinary teacher then guidance counselor, and eventually obtaining a doctorate degree to become a school psychologist. 

Two fateful things occurred which brought those plans to an abrupt halt.  One:  I met the man who was to become my husband and my views on not getting married flew right out the window.   Two:  I obtained a teaching job after college graduation and could not stand it.  More life plans bite the dust.

Marriage.  Heading off into the sunset (literally moving westward) with my military man.  Military life as a military wife.  Career changes.  New friends and new adventures.  Those life experiences consumed my 20’s.

And then that gal who once envisioned herself as a career woman with no children became a mama.  Not just to one amazing child, but to three!  The witty girl who wrote this ditty in college – “A housewife I could never be, for that would be the end of me” – found herself a stay at home wife and mother shocking herself by welcoming every aspect of it!

Child bearing and child rearing consumed my 30’s and 40’s.  My life goal centered on raising the best human beings I possibly could while actively involved in their lives to help guide and direct them.  School volunteer.  PTA President.  Church volunteer.  Sports booster Mom.  Youth group leader.  That’s who I was.

With the empty nest looming in the near future, I searched and prayed for direction and a worthwhile cause to become involved with.  Helping other kids, besides my own,  make wise, positive choices became my passion and I re-joined the workforce part-time in a non-profit organization.   

When my 50’s decade descended upon me, life threw me a major curve ball.   Losing my parents-in-law and then my own parents;  health problems;  the last child graduating high school; each of our three moving out on their own;  job losses; uncertainties; even spiritual issues.  Those things seemed to define life.

That empty nest syndrome compounded everything.  It felt like a rabid dog that had sunk his teeth into my leg and no matter how hard I tried to shake him off, he just wouldn’t let go.

Next year, I’ll enter a new decade.  The sobering thought that perhaps I’ve lived the majority of my lifetime already tries to grab me and shove my head under water to drown out any thoughts of discovering new purposes, new adventures, or simply new experiences.  I have to fight that urge because I don’t want to be robbed of the joy of life. 

Maybe we don’t really grow up, maybe we just grow.   And that growing includes gaining wisdom about life. 

“It is not what he was, nor even what he does, which directly expresses the worth of a man, but what he is.” ~Henri-Frederic Amiel

So here’s what I want to be as I grow:  filled with joy, saturated with the wonder of life well-lived.   I want to be happy and cheerful.  I want to express joy and be joy to those around me.

I now know what I want to be.  I want to be like this 89-year-old lady. 

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com


18 responses

  1. What a wonderful post mama! At least you had direction. I never truly knew what I wanted to be and now that I’ve been through almost all the phases of life, I am only slightly closer to knowing. I envy those who are goal oriented even though life may throw a few curves in original plans. Having had no real plans, I drifted. Fortunately I drifted into a good life, a peaceful life, a life to be proud of, and still going strong. I think I finally do have a goal though. I wish to lead a “purposeful” rest of my life. Vague, I know, but that goes right along with the original me – drifting.


    • Dor, I don’t think drifting is such a bad thing. Look how wonderful you turned out!! I drifted a lot too and still do. Sometimes those goal-oriented people lose sight of life — everything becomes focused on ‘the goal.” So we need to find a balance just like everything in life. I don’t think wanting to live a “purposeful” life is vague at all. Each one of us has his/her own purpose to fulfill and the first step is acknowledging that. Then we put it into action. And you know what, you do that in your blog. You make us laugh, you encourage us, you show us interesting ideas and photos. You are leading a life of purpose even if you didn’t realize it!! 🙂


    • Yes!! I’ve noticed a lot of people do something extraordinary in their older years, even after retirement. In one of our Bible studies, we talked about how once we retire from our jobs, we don’t retire from working for God. I liked that thought! It does give us hope!!


  2. Your path in life was not too far different from mine (we’re just about the same age); I like to believe that I’m just ‘coming into my own’ as I enter the third and final ‘phase’ of my life. I loved your line, “Maybe we don’t really grow up, maybe we just grow.” I’ve always said I would never grow up; I definitely think I’ve grown! Wonderful post.



  3. Fabulous post, Mama! I particularly loved your desire to be saturated with the joy of a life well-lived and to be happy and cheerful. I want to be a blessing to those around me, not a burden. I want to learn to be more content with where we are now in our lives. Lovely, lovely thoughts in your post.


  4. Hello Mamma! Long time no post from me! Miss you. Busy, busy summer. Next Bridal shower over this past Saturday…2nd wedding of the year coming up in 4 weeks…baby shower right afterwards and last and final large family reunion next day! Whew! I wanted to say thanks for that posting of the singing lady….just said good bye to my North Carolina bound in-laws after having them stay with us in our very, tiny house for the last month and a half in the midst of all that is going on…. My MIL’s sister was in nursing home and then past away (hence the reason for their long stay)…I have been a little “on the edge” with all the things going on around me and my patience was wearing thin with the in-laws very long stay….so, the video of the elderly lady singing, put things back in perspective for me. My father-in-law is aging and experiencing some dementia and can be angry and mean sometimes…viewing this video helped me see another side of the aging process. The simple becomes a joy and a delight. I believe we become like children again as this world slowly passes and we look forward to better things as we look to Jesus and our heavenly home. Thank you Mamma….needed to see that. I think I’ll write my in-laws a letter. x


    • Alison, I miss you too! I’ve been wondering what you’ve been up to since I haven’t heard from you for quite awhile. Thanks for filling me in our your busy life right now. How exciting!! I’m wishing you and your family God’s best as you celebrate all of these milestones. Hope you do find time to write to your in-laws, you won’t regret it. Please keep in touch.


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