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.