Remember all those times you were asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Maybe it was by your fourth-grade teacher. I remember sitting at my wooden desk with the ledge for pencils and each student, going around the room of desks arranged in tidy rows, being asked this very question. For many boys, the answer was, “When I grow up, I wanna be a fireman.” Other boys responded, “An astronaut.” “A policeman.” “A farmer.”
The girls in my classroom answered, “I want to be a nurse.” “A teacher.” Those were the days when career paths were so very narrow.
Throughout my childhood, I had lots of answers. Ideas, daydreams, and fantasies filled my head. When I grew up, I wanted to be a United Nations translator, wearing those clunky headphones and mastering French translations for what I presumed were fascinating international communications of vital importance.
When I grew up, I wanted to be the First Lady. Not the President. Oh no. I was an impressionable child mesmerized by Jackie Kennedy, the fashionista socialite, gracing the halls of the White House. I imagined myself wearing those gorgeous designer gowns with an elegant strand of pearls around my neck and sitting at banquet tables bedecked with exquisite china and crystal, talking in Jackie’s unique drawl to visiting dignitaries.
When I grew up, I wanted to be a famous TV reporter, making nightly appearances in everyone’s living rooms on their giant TV sets. The kind before remotes when you had to walk across the room to change the channel or turn the volume up or down.
When I grew up, I wanted to be an animal trainer, cuddling with and feeding a baby orangutan for the next episode of Marlin Perkins’ Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.
When I grew up….. But wait! I HAVE grown up! Did any of these dreams come true? Nope.
Funny how that happens. Did I ever imagine what my grownup life would be like? As the famous saying goes, “If only I’d known then what I know now.”
If so, I would have answered my fourth-grade teacher this way: “When I grow up, I want to take down the Christmas decorations, vacuum the pine needles, wash the kitchen floor, sort and take out the recycling, do the breakfast dishes (at noon), iron a tablecloth, and run three loads of laundry.”
Yes. This was my awesome day, today.
This is my reality as the grownup I’ve become—the woman who is a mother, a wife, a friend, a volunteer, a writer, a retiree, a chef, an individual who is curious about spirituality, a woman who gasps at a pinky orange sunset, a person who loves to laugh. Now that I’m grownup, I’m all these things. And more.
What did you want to be when you grew up? And who are you today, now that you ARE grownup?