"Every day you make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of that journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy of the climb."
Age 5: When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut, a movie star, or one of those people who run the checkout register at the grocery store.
Age 8: When I grow up, I want to be a lifeguard, or maybe an Olympic gymnast.
Age 10: When I grow up, I want to be a teacher.
Age 12: When I grow up, I want to be a veterinarian.
[7th grade--A friend is in a horrible car accident, leaving him with TBI. I spend many hours at a pediatric hospital for head trauma]
Age 13: When I grow up, I want to be a physical therapist.
Age 14: When I grow up, I think I really do want to be a veterinarian.
[I take a biology class--not my thing.]
Age 15: I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Why are we talking about this?
[Buzz, who I have been dating for nearly 2 years, joins the Marine Corps]
Age 17: When I grow up, I want to be a Marine wife.
[I enter college and have to make decisions on what I want to be when I grow up]
Age 18: Uh, when I grow up, I want to, uh, be in banking? [Buzz and I break up as I am in college in VA and he is stationed in CA] When I grow up, I want to be anything but a Marine wife.
Age 19: I don't like accounting. When I grow up, I want to be a physical therapist--that will be so rewarding. [Volunteered for a summer at a pediatric physical therapy clinic] I can't be a physical therapist--I'm way to emotionally involved and I would be a wreck all the time. Hmmm, I'll be an economics major--it's still business but I don't have to take any more accounting.
Age 21: [I graduate college and get a job as a commercial credit analyst at the bank where I have worked as teller and as a clerical assistant] When I grow up, I want to be a VP of this bank.
[I'm miserable at my job. I hate sitting in a cubicle all day. I decide I need to go back to school and go back to the teller line, where I can be around people again, while I make some decisions...and start taking sign language classes.]
Age 21 1/2: When I grow up I want to be a teacher. I'm going to grad school to get a master's in education.
[Re-enter Buzz, our engagement, and marriage]
Age 22: Oh good grief, can I ever have a career?
[I enter graduate program for deaf education, begin working at a elementary school for deaf kids.]
Age 23: When I grow up, I want to educate deaf kids.
[Job at the elementary school is too emotionally draining and I can't finish that program before Buzz gets restationed. I enter the master's in applied sociology program at the same university]
Age 24: When I grow up, I want to do something with sociology. I will go get my PhD.
[I decide it's time to start a family because Buzz will soon be deploying. Pregnancy finds me immediately. **YAY!!!** No immediate plans for PhD school--only mommyhood]
Age 25: When I grow up, I want to be this little girl's mommy.
[After being a stay at home mom for a year, I start teaching community college part-time]
Age 26: I mainly want to be a mommy, but when I grow up, I want to teach. Wait, I miss working with people with hearing impairments. Maybe I want to be a speech-language pathologist--then I could do both.
[I apply and get accepted to a distance education program for SLP. Buzz gets ready to deploy again. I can't handle the program with a 2 year old. I realize I need to get my priorities straight and decide not to begin said program.]
Age 27: When I grow up, I want to be a mommy--and maybe still teach community college--but probably just part-time.
[We find out that Buzz will be restationed near a Research I university with a sociology program. I apply--late--and still get in.]
Age 28: When I grow up, I want to be a sociologist--though I don't know if I want to concentrate on research or teaching--and, first and foremost, I want to be a mommy.
[PhD school is very hard and demanding--it's even rougher with a family and all the challenges of military life.]
Age 30: When I grow up, I want to be a mommy--why did I go back to school? Well, maybe I'm just upset...when it comes down to it, I do still want to be a sociologist, too...I just don't know if I want to go research (most of the time, I don't but the thought crosses my mind), teaching, industry (probably not), or non-profit (that sounds rewarding). I just want to get out of grad school, then I will work on making these decisions, based on where the Marine Corps takes us. Wait, why is my daughter telling me what she wants to be when she grows up? I don't want her to grow up so fast! (sigh) Well, back to my own school work...
Moral of this story: Sometimes you go 3 decades with many changes and challenges in your life, you may be working on a doctorate and STILL not know exactly what you want to be when you grow up. And that's okay. Grad school is not a cop-out for me--as some have suggested--so that I don't have to make this decision. I know that this field will lead me to the right thing--and give me options if my tastes change. It also gives me the flexibility to spend summers with my daughter and I have had more at home-time with her WHILE doing something in pursuit of a career. Complicated? Absolutely! This doesn't change and seems to get worse with age, education level, and Marine wife life. Do I take conventional routes? No. Decisive? No. I'm not conventional or decisive except for the fact that mom is my #1 job...and everything else will work itself out. Part of the fun of deciding what you will be when you "grow up" is the journey that takes you there.