Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When I grow up...

"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."
--Winston Churchill

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.


  1. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up! I'm pretty content with "mommy" right now, but who knows where the road will lead me. Good luck on your journey :)

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  3. It's so hard to figure out what we want to do- and it changes constantly! So, it cracks me up when we expect kids in high school/college to have it all figured out!

  4. I still don't know what I want to be, but kudos on not giving up and still trying.