There’s A Fresh Coat Of Paint At Jane’s Today

Things were getting a little dull over here. I took a look around my blog and I thought, “Hmmm. New curtains? Maybe a fresh coat of paint? What would this chair look like over here?” And then Kristen from Motherese came to my rescue.

“Let’s trade spaces,” she suggested. And I heartily agreed!

As a part of Amy’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” meme, we decided to switch things up a bit together. It always helps to have a friend’s discerning eye and gentle charm to spruce things up at your blog. And Kristen is just the blogger to help me.

You can find me over at her place, sharing a favorite post. And just a few lines down you’ll find her wonderful words. Her blog is a welcoming place that shares the joys and strains of motherhood.  She encourages frank, honest discussion and loving support. One of my favorite daily reads, I just know you’ll love her, too.

Please give a warm welcome to Kristen.

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Have you ever played the Game of Life?  My older brother and I played constantly, both of us longing to land on one of the squares at the beginning of the game that entitled us to a career as a lawyer or a doctor (and the $50,000 annual salary that went with it – I guess lawyers and doctors weren’t making the big bucks back in the 80s).  In the Game of Life – and probably in more lives in general a few decades ago – you steered your car along a predetermined course, collecting paychecks and children, all the way to retirement (at which point, if I recall correctly, you could trade in your kids for cash…but that’s a topic for another post entirely). 

Yesterday I read a version of a statistic that I’d seen before, but it surprised me nonetheless: according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average American worker will change careers 3-5 times during her lifetime.  Not jobs.  Not 9th grade social studies teacher at Franklin D. Roosevelt High, then 10th grade world history teacher at Oak Hill Regional, then 12th grade economics teacher at Shelburne Community.  Careers.  Teacher.  Then Astrophysicist.  Then City Comptroller.  (Okay, maybe not exactly, but you get the picture.)

As a kid, like my persona in the Game of Life, I often defaulted to the idea of being a lawyer.  All of my dad’s siblings were lawyers.  They liked to talk.  I liked to talk.  I also liked the idea of making $50,000 a year and wearing suits to work.  I liked the show L.A. Law.  But in college I passed that torch off to many (most?) of my friends who headed off to law school after graduation while I headed instead to a different sort of classroom – one in which I’d be a teacher instead of a student.  That’s where I went and that’s where I stayed until Big Boy was born.  A few different jobs, but the same career.

And now I’m 32.  I’ve had one career so far.  I liked it.  I even loved it sometimes.  But right now I don’t see myself going back to it.  And, according to the Labor Department, I need at least two more careers to qualify as average.  So I have to ask myself: What do I want to do when I grow up?

And you know what?  I have no idea.  No clue what I want to do next.

Right now I’m a mother.  And that certainly takes a lot of doing.  But what else do I want to do?  Well, I want to read the stack of books that’s been sitting on my bedside table since last Christmas.  I want to wake up one morning to something other than the sound of a baby crying.  I want to go back to Paris – with Husband, but without the wee ones.  I want to get a massage.  A long massage.

Actually, most of my want-to-do’s have to do with states of being – how I’ve been in a different place in time, how I want to be – rather than what I want to do.  And I realize that maybe the question that matters isn’t, What do I want to do?, but rather, What do I want to be?

And what do I want to be?  I want to be present.  I want to be satisfied.  I want to be fulfilled.  I want to be heard.  I want to be happy.

I still don’t know what career space I want to land on in my own personal game of life.  I still don’t know how the doing can get me to the being.  No, I still don’t know what I want to do, but I’m getting closer to knowing what I want to be.

What do you want to do when you grow up?  What do you want to be?


Filed under Growing Up, Moms, Observations

47 responses to “There’s A Fresh Coat Of Paint At Jane’s Today

  1. Thanks, Jane, for having me over today. I’d be happy to house-sit for you any time! 🙂

  2. suzicate

    My friend,Karal, (The Orange Chair) has the perfect answer and she has a plaque with it stated “When I grow up, I want to be me”. Don’t you just love that?! I;m on my third career not counting stay at home mom!

  3. cevraini

    An excellent question Kristen! What do I want to be? I have been searching for the answer to that question a lot myself this past year. Amazingly, I’m finding that I’m not alone in this quest! I was so surprised to find all of you “kindred spirits” here in “Bloggy World”

    Wonderful people like you have inspired me to be who I truly am. And I’ve never been happier!

    Thank you!

  4. Like you, Kristen, I’ve only been a teacher. And, like you, I don’t see myself going back to it.

    Dream Job: Travel and/or Food writer for a big magazine. Expense account. Yeah, that’s what I want.

    I know what I want to be, but do I know WHO I want to be?

    • That sounds like a mighty fine dream to me, Kitch. (Have you ever seen Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel? She seems to have a rather lovely life.)

      As for the “who” you want to be part, keep me posted, but I am awfully fond of you just as you are now.

  5. That statistic comforts me and terrifies me! I am already on career #4 and I am only 29. Aaaaaaghhhh.

  6. This is such a good post… and I love your conclusion.

    I have a huge passion on for Living your Purpose and the more I read and study and think about it the more I come to the conclusion you did here… our purpose is more about who (and how) we want to be – and then all those silly things we do like careers and such are just ways we express that being.

    That way, if you lose your job as a garbage man, you don’t feel you’ve failed at your purpose, you know it’s just an open door to a new expression of your purpose (found object artist maybe?)…

    What I thought reading this was that maybe you don’t have any idea what your next career path is because it’s not time for you to know. You ARE doing your right now career (you super-mama you) and you are learning how to better be you while you are doing it. When the kids start needing you less and you’ve gotten all you can from this path, then you’ll start feeling drawn and pulled to a new one. Well, that’s what my head was thinking while I read anyway.

    Great post as always Kristen and I’m happy to have discovered Jane’s lovely new (to me) blog too!


  7. ‘I want to be happy.’ Yes. That’s what we never remember, do we?

    I’ve had two careers, I suppose, three if you count motherhood. I’d like to try another. Perhaps I’m just that way, never knowing what I want!

    • I think that just proves that you’re human, Amy – always searching. But I hope both you and I find a way to remember that part about happiness. If we can, I have to believe a lot of the other details will fall into place.

  8. unabridgedgirl

    I left high school with the idea of majoring in theater, since I had full-ride scholarships to several universities. One semester later, I switched to English, which – – don’t get me wrong – – I still love, but I am now majoring in criminal justice, which has always peeked my interest.

    • I love the idea of major-changing as a precursor to the career dance that so many of us do later on. With your scholarly credentials, might we be in store for a self-written one-woman show about a female crime fighter?

  9. Nicki

    I am still not sure what I want to be when I grow up and I am probably at least a few years older than all of you. I love this post, Kristen. Thanks to both you and Jane for the swap!

  10. I always wanted to be a mom. As for the career that pays actual money and provides health insurance? Not a clue. Normally, I joke the same way and say that I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. I don’t joke so much about it now because in the next few years the boys will go off to college and I feel that my “mom” job will be cut to part-time. Then what do I do with myself? Eldest son, on the other hand, knows exactly what he wants to do for the next 10 years. He couldn’t possibly be my kid.

  11. Lovely post, Kristen. I think it’s important that we continuously ask ourselves the question of what we want to be when we grow up, so that we can assess what we’re doing and refine it. Even now, even with writing and editing, I need to ask myself that and make sure that the time I have I’m spending the most wisely, that at the end of the day I’m on my way to where I want to be.

    • Since starting to write last fall, I have really appreciated the shape that the goal of putting words on the screen has given to my days. It helps me plan my time and go to bed with a sense of satisfaction. That being said, I still manage to waste plenty of time plenty of days, but I like your goal of getting to the end of the day “on my way to where I want to be.”

  12. I want to be … always learning, always humble, always happy where I’m at, even if I’m looking to change. And just like in the Game of Life, I want to avoid all the tornadoes, snake bites, and unexpected yacht repairs.

  13. My youngest starts school in a little over a year so I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. After 13 years of having preschoolers, it will be time to move on to a new phase.

    As far as I can tell, no one ever feels they’ve completely grown up so I guess I better learn to enjoy the process of growing. I loved suziecate’s answer!

  14. At 8 I knew I was a writer. But I went to college to be a nurse and did that happily for many years. I worked in Spec Education for 3 years. Now I’m a librarian. But always a writer. And mom.
    I couldn’t have predicted much of it. Know knows what comes next??

  15. A good question.

    I trained as an art teacher, then went into Graphic design and ran my own business for many years but in the end my heart wasn’t in it. I was sick of the deadlines and being treated badly so I decided to a job I loved. My in-laws wanted a disco at their Wedding Aniversary party, I said I’d do it, even though I had no equipment and had never dj-d before. I loved the evening so much, that I gave up tthe graphic design business and became dj. So I’m officially all grown up now!

  16. There are so many things I want to be. A lawyer, a journalist, a novelist, a professor, a non-profit organizer, a politician, a college counselor, a painter, though I have no talent painting…. I know I won’t be all these things. But I sure wish I was a cat so I could come back and try them all. Sometimes, I worry I’ll look back and feel that I didn’t do enough, that I didn’t try enough, that there was some great career/life out there for me that I didn’t seek out. As long as I follow my heart, I hope I’ll be fine. But who knows? Maybe the problem is in thinking that career defines us. Yes, that must be it.

    • With the exception of painter (I am a notoriously bad artist), all of your career options have been on my own list at various times.

      “Maybe the problem is in thinking that career defines us.” I absolutely agree that that’s part of it. Another part of it is other people defining us by our careers.

  17. I swear I have read this before…(please tell me I’m right, I already feel crazy!)

    What do I want to be when I grow up?

    Let’s see….

    I want to be a mother that has it all together.
    A wife that supports her husband, even when it’s rough.
    A sister that offers encouragement despite disagreeing with sibling’s decisions.
    A daughter that nods her head rather than argues with everything that comes out of her parent’s mouths.
    A friend that is there when is needed.
    And, most of all, a kind and loving person to all people.

    These goals will sure take me awhile to accomplish, but I am grateful I have my whole lifetime.

    • You’re not crazy! When Jane and I decided to swap spaces, we asked each other for a specific post from our respective archives. (I think this one originally “aired” in November.)

      I love that all of your goals have to do with family and relationships. Sometimes I get so carried away that I forget to prioritize the most important things. I have a feeling you don’t do that nearly as often.

  18. I loved this post so much when you first post and I still love it. Perhaps I have attained some clarity since then, but it just struck me that we bloggers are blogging our way through the thicket of uncertainty that is adulthood, that we are in fact asking ourselves what we want to be when we grow up day after day through snippets of stories. And you know what? I don’t think we ever grow up, so this process has no logical conclusion. Will we blogging into our eighties? Can you imagine that? 🙂

    Thanks to you both for this!

    • Oh, how processes without logical conclusions make me quake in my core. But I think you are right in noting that blogging as an enterprise is fundamentally about asking, answering, and then re-answering the big questions.

      Will we be blogging into our 80s? At this rate, I sometimes wonder if I will still be blogging in my mid-30s! 🙂

  19. “Many of my want-to-dos are about states of being.”

    Yes. Our want-to-dos are often about what we want to be. The person we want to be. Our experiential selves.

    Just remember though – statistics can be interpreted any which way. And the 3 to 5 careers/lifetime makes plenty of assumptions that are no doubt serial and very restrictive. Real life is about multiple hats and uncategorizable selves – and roles. I suspect you’ve “done” and “been” your three already, and then some.

    As for growing up, I thinking it’s highly overrated.


    Lovely, thoughtful post.

  20. BLW, I love your spin on the statistics. Now you have me thinking and rethinking: what/who have I done? What/who have I been?

  21. Love this guest post!!! As for me, I would love to be a published author. But most of all I just want to be a good mom, good wife, good friend. I want to always have plenty of time and energy to be available to roll around on the floor with my boys and chase them and tickle them until none of us can breathe from too much laughing. And I want to be that person that is available to all my loved ones when they need to talk. This was a wonderful post. What a lovely idea to switch places for the day!!

  22. I would love to be able to live by Suzicat’s quote: I want to be me too. The issue is: I don’t know who I am. The vision/image/concept of me I have inside my head seems to be so far away from my reality. I am actually afraid to voice it since it would probably make me sound selfish and self-centered, yet the first thing they teach you to be a good mom is to NOT BE SELFISH. No? Tis a cliche, but I cry uncontrollably every time I hear the stupid song I’ve Never Been Me. I can’t remember how many posts Kristen wrote have made me cry. Therapeutically. Kristen, I should pay you for all these therapy sessions!! 🙂

    • Thanks, SubWOW, for your kind words. I think your struggle is one many of us relate to: what becomes of personal dreams once we become parents?

      Hmm…are you trying to help me figure out my next career?

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