Category Archives: Growing Up

Money Makes The World Go ‘Round

Money makes the world go ’round. Or does it? And if it does, why can’t we talk about it?

My parents, when times were tough, were horrible with money. I found out, only recently, that they almost lost their home – not once, but twice – when I was a small child.

When I was very young we lived very simply, very frugally. I remember sharing a bedroom with my three other sisters and my parents sleeping on the pull-out couch in the den. We ate every kind of noodle and rice casserole to stretch the dollar. We walked instead of starting up the car. (But then, we lived in a neighborhood where we could actually walk to the market and drugstore.)

My father worked hard at a job that he loved. He worked hard at a job that he hated once new management took over. Bottom line, he worked very hard for the things that we had. And by the time I was a middle school student, we were doing very well. Really well. Designer clothes, high-end restaurant meals, a large beautiful home decorated by professionals, new cars. Money was flowing and my parents were no longer poor money managers.

Me? I’m the exact opposite. My chosen profession was education. I loved teaching. I loved it so much that I passed up the opportunity to earn a higher salary in the public school system where I felt my creativity would be squashed. I taught for a much lower salary at a small private school.

With my low salary and as a single parent, I was just above the poverty line. In fact, if the car I drove was a few years older, I would have qualified for food stamps. But I was happy. I had minimal debt. I was a good money manager. We were getting by.

Life circumstances changed and now there is more money to manage. Unlike my parents, when the money is flowing, I am a terrible money manager. I allow myself to get lulled into a false sense of security. Because I know the money is flowing, I use the credit card more often. I buy things I don’t need. I spend before I think.

Anything I’ve learned about money I’ve had to read in books or listen to money experts on TV or radio. What they talk about is so foreign to me. Putting into practice what they preach is difficult.

My parental model has flaws. My parents never spoke about money with me. They bought. They spent. And I never saw the consequences. When I was 16 they gave me a department store credit card. In my name. I’ll never forget when the first bill came and I freaked out because I couldn’t pay the balance. They laughed at my distress and told me they’d cover it. I cut up the card and told them I didn’t want it anymore. I couldn’t handle the responsibility.

I also vowed I would teach my kids about money. With my daughter, I’m not sure I did any better than my parents. I’ve tried one theory and the next, but she’s a spender. A generous, kind, loving spender. When money is flowing, she buys for herself and for the ones she loves. She had her first real job this past year and at Christmas she was so excited to be able to buy “real gifts” (her words) for her family and friends.

But she’s had the job for 5 months now and has yet to save a dime.

How can I stop this cycle with my sons? Which money theory is the best one? Some say you shouldn’t pay your kids to do household chores. They are part of a family and chores are part of being a family member. Others say if your child doesn’t do their chores, they don’t get paid. Just like the real world. But both theories make sense to me. What’s a poor money manager to do?

I wish my parents had been more open about their mistakes and their successes. I have no idea how my parents became “successful” with their money decisions. They just did. One day we were poor, the next day we were very, very comfortable. (See? I can’t even say the word wealthy.)

Ugh.

My money issues are just too big for this blog.

So I’ll do what I do best. I’ll bury my head in the sand and distract myself with a little humor.

You can, too, if you’d like. Just press play.

17 Comments

Filed under children, Growing Up, parenting, Ponderings

The Moment I Knew I Was A Feminist

It was a cold, rainy day.

In kindergarten.

I was playing with my best friend, David. Playing indoors, because of the weather. And we were on our knees, vrooming our construction trucks around on the floor. Our classroom had a really neat mural on the floor, complete with roads and stop signs and houses and trees. It was early in the school year and we had been waiting for a day just like today so we could play inside during recess.

Now, I adored Mrs. Harvey. My first few weeks at school were better than I could have imagined. Mrs. Harvey was kind. And sweet. And she knew so much. Everything was a game with Mrs. Harvey. She smelled like cookies. Mrs. Harvey was the reason I wanted to be a teacher someday. Mrs. Harvey would be the first, of many, women role models in my life.

But Mrs. Harvey did not like me playing on the floor with the boys.

With the trucks.

Making vroom-vroom noises.

Mrs. Harvey told me that I wasn’t being very “ladylike” and I needed a little time to myself to reflect. It wasn’t time-out, exactly. She sat me at a table and taught me how to make “scribble pictures” with crayon. She told me this is what little girls were supposed to do during inside recess. This or play in the housekeeping area with the dolls and tea sets and little play stoves.

I didn’t like the housekeeping area. Besides, my friend – my best friend – liked to play trucks and build things with blocks. There weren’t any blocks or trucks in the housekeeping area.

That evening, I told my mother what had happened. She told me that some people thought that girls could only play with certain toys and in certain ways. When I was at home, playing in our neighborhood, I was free to play any way I wanted. But at school, I had to listen to Mrs. Harvey’s rules.

In our neighborhood, I was the girl who climbed trees, spit cherry pits the farthest, built sand castles and forts, played with trucks and raced on my bike. I wore garter snakes around my wrists and had an ant farm in my room. I was one of the first chosen for a game of kickball or baseball. My best friends were boys because they knew how to play. The only time I touched a doll was to switch the heads of my sister’s Barbies and larger baby dolls so we could laugh at the absurdity.

In high school, I was lamenting to one of my guy friends about my lack of dates. He said, “You’re not the kind of girl guys date. You’re the kind guys marry.” It was supposed to be a compliment. At the time, it was little consolation.

I’m glad I had a mother that told me it was ok to be who I was. And while Mrs. Harvey squelched me a little on that cold, October day – her sweet, nurturing nature was something I craved and wanted to emulate. She was much older than my mother and a victim of her era. All is forgiven.

But that day, the day I was told little girls don’t play with trucks and make loud noises, was a defining moment for me.

It is a day I look back on fondly. At the time, I was upset. But I had a mother who believed I could play with trucks if I wanted to. I had a father who took me fishing and to baseball games. I was in elementary school during the ’70s, watching the women’s movement take off. There were so many more amazing female role models to come.

I smile when I take a look at what my life is now. I am a mother of three. Who gave up her career to stay home with her children. To raise them full-time. A job I wouldn’t trade for any other. I love to bake and have an orderly home. I’d rather cook something from scratch than pop dinner in the microwave. We even have a picket fence around our yard.

It sounds all so very 1950s.

But it’s who I am.

It’s what I love.

And it’s the feminist movement that allows me to be proud of  this very delicious, amazing, gratifying and yes, enviable place in my life.

17 Comments

Filed under children, Growing Up, Lessons Learned, Observations

Not the Tomboy I Thought I Was

I used to …

wrap snakes around my wrists as bracelets, play with trucks and cars and trains, prefer playing with the boys – running and playing baseball, kickball and football, dig in the dirt, build things.

I hated…

getting dressed up – especially wearing dresses, playing “house,” playing with dolls (unless it was to switch their heads – Barbie doll heads on bigger baby dolls and vice versa), baking, cooking, sewing (I was actually kicked out of Brownies because the group leader thought I’d “be happier someplace else”), being quiet and dainty, wearing makeup, brushing my hair.

But then, I grew up. Way up. And have two adorable little boys.

And I’m finding I love…

pink and lace, dressing up, finding the perfect outfit, cooking and baking, lipstick, shopping, quiet activities like reading and writing, getting my nails done, wearing jewelry, chick flicks, tea in tea cups, and pretty anything.

I still like….

camping and canoeing, being outside, watching sports from the sidelines (or in front of the TV), action movies, digging in the dirt, and going on adventures.

But not as much as the other stuff.

Not anymore.

Sigh.

14 Comments

Filed under Growing Up

Jane Comes Out Of The Closet And Then, She Confesses

Wait.

Reverse that.

First, I’m going to confess. Then we’ll get to that other thing.

Remember that RAOK post that garnered so much attention? And then I commented on the comments and challenged myself to take it a step further?

Well. I slept on it. And in the morning my challenge sounded a bit….impossible. And improbable. 

Let me explain.

I decided, in my spontaneous and do-gooder charged wisdom, to attempt a random act of kindness every day (or at least weekly) and then post about it on a separate tab on my blog.

Sounded good at the time.

And then I thought…how random is random if I’m planning on doing it?  And what if, by 10 o’clock at night, when I’m tired and spent and ready to go to bed, I haven’t done anything especially random? What about all the other kind activities I do daily, without even thinking about it? Helping a woman with a stroller or holding doors open or reaching something high on a shelf for someone in the grocery store or the random snail mail cards I send to friends and family far away or letting that poor woman with five kids go ahead of me at Target because I’ve managed to procure a blissful hour alone to shop?

That’s my life. I do little bits of random every single day.

Or what about the bigger acts of kindness that I participate in? Volunteering at my kid’s school. Making dinner for someone who: had a recent death in the family, had a baby, extended illness, just moved to the neighborhood or is moving away. Watching out for an elderly neighbor. Or, how, whenever we bake I always split it and share with a neighbor or friend.

A dear neighbor recently said to me, “I can always count on you!” And she’s right. I may not always have my full heart into it (because I’m human and have a busy, full life) but I find it very difficult to say “no” to someone in need.

And then I started thinking about the two or three comments (out of 200) that criticized my good deed. (Isn’t it funny how we always focus on the negative no matter how inconsequential they may be?)  They felt that forking over $3.18 to “help” someone who was already prepared to fork over $3.18 for an overpriced coffee was self-indulgent and frivolous. That it only made the giver feel good about giving something that wasn’t necessary in the first place. Do I really want to invite more criticism, no matter how far and few between?

And that mildly annoyed me. Because we ‘re talking about kindness. Bringing a smile to a stranger’s face. Who cares if the person was prepared to pay for it anyway? I know, when it happened to me in the drive-thru – when some sweet woman paid for my coffee three summers ago and the cashier handed me  a “Moms Rock!” scribbled on a napkin as way of explanation from the anonymous giver, I looked in the rearview mirror at my feisty, fighting 3 and 4-year-old boys and thought, “Thank you, dear sweet woman for a little joy today!”

Which brings me to this.

Joy.

One of you out there once told me that some weeks, it’s hard to find joy. I thought, oh goodness, how sad. A whole week without joy. I find joy in every day – no matter how small. I’m not saying it’s easy. Some days I have to look. Real hard. But I find it. So, I challenged myself to document joy every day.

And I’m doing that……here. At Every Day Joy. Have been for 251 days now. I’ve kept it very, very quiet. I’ve been doing it for me. To make sure that every day I stop and recognize the bounty that is my life. I’m only sharing it here with you now to say….

Random acts of kindness should be random. I shouldn’t plan for it. I shouldn’t schedule them.

And that challenge to myself helped me to take stock of my life and realize each day is chock full to the brim. With taking care of children and a husband. With lots of dear friends and some family. I try, each day, to be thoughtful, compassionate and considerate.  I practice kindness. Both deliberately and randomly. Both have their place and purpose.

There it is. Out of the closet.

I say things I sometimes have to take back.

And.

I have a quiet, secret little blog about celebrating joy.

That’s not so secret anymore.

26 Comments

Filed under Growing Up, Lessons Learned

Teetering On A Tightrope

Today’s Tune for Tuesday Selection = Kandi by One Eskimo

You’ve been my queen for longer than you know
My love for you has been
Everything step i take
Every day i live
Everything i see” – Growing up as I did, it was difficult to feel worthy. When a boyfriend, or even a husband, claimed love for me I had a hard time believing him. Insecurity doesn’t even begin to describe.

“But i heard from Jo about this guy And i want to know” – As a result, I teetered on a dangerous tightrope, many times. If another boy gave me attention, I listened. I encouraged. I often came close to crossing the line.

“What did he say?
He called me baby, baby all night long
What did he do?
He called me baby, baby all night long” – But I didn’t. Not physically. But emotionally. Intellectually. Instead of confronting issues within my current relationship, I savored the attention of someone else. Not some of my prouder moments, to be sure.

“Why? Why? Why, did you need him?
Where was i?” – So I’d feel unworthy all over again. A vicious cycle. One that I’ve broken, thank goodness. But the regrets of my younger years haunt me sometimes. I’m much stronger now. Much more secure. But still, regret lies in the shadows.

“And it hurts beyond hurt
It was a love that blinds
And a love that stings” – I’m so thankful that I am who I am. I’m thankful for regret. For mis-steps. That I’ve been hurt. That I’ve hurt.

Without the sting I wouldn’t be able to appreciate what I have now.

(Update: And the winner is…..lucky number 4! (Chosen by #2son because “that’s how many Star Wars army guys I have in my hand!”) Mary Lee of Marrilymarylee’s Weblog is the lucky winner of Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s copy of “Life After Yes!” Congratulations, Mary Lee and thanks to all who played!)

9 Comments

Filed under Growing Up, Lessons Learned, Music

Selective Memory – Crazy or Coping Mechanism?

I have selective memory. It drives my husband crazy. It drives me crazy sometimes.

For example…

This past Mother’s Day was wonderful. One of the best ever. And my husband was an absolute angel, treated me like a queen. When my sister asked me how my Mother’s Day was, I told her it was fantastic.

I asked her how her’s was. Less than fantastic. In fact, it was horrible and it all started on Saturday night when her husband….

Oops. Wait. I remember now. Mine wasn’t so hot. Well, it was, but it didn’t start out that way.

(Let’s play a little Mad Libs, shall we?)

You see, on Saturday, my husband decided to (insert activity) even though I asked him not to. It was something he does (time reference) and I usually have no problem with it. In fact, I never have a problem with it. But it was Mother’s Day weekend and it was sure to (verb) with Sunday. He did it anyway. So at (insert time of day) when he decided to (insert activity) and it (past tense verb) me, I was more than ticked. Mother’s Day started off with a (adjective.)

But the rest of the day was great. Fantastic. Magical, even.

My Pollyanna brain chooses to focus on the magical and forget the awful 24 hours preceeding Mother’s Day. Simple as that. It keeps me sane.

But there is something about my selective memory that really bother me. It eats away at me. It’s a nagging thorn in my parenting manual. What about my childhood memories of my mother?

I try. I really, really try, to remember the positive. You’d think, with my Pollyanna approach, the positive would be all I’d remember. But I can’t. I have fuzzy images of her smiling or laughing – but it either feels forced or it’s in a large group and she’s putting on her show.

There are pictures of her reading to us. But the only memory I have of her reading to me involves us cuddled together on an oversized chair while she lets me have sips of her White Russian (at age 5).

By the time I was a teenager I had learned the art of manipulation. My mother is a shopper. And when you’re in her good graces, she buys you stuff. Lots of stuff. And my parents had the money to buy us lots and lots of stuff. I remember a few shopping trips with me finagling some pretty pricey items (leather jacket, designer jeans, cashmere sweater, jewelry) because I was “Golden Girl” for that week. I was happy in that moment. But the little black cloud of being indebted to her makes that happiness fleeting.

I try. I rack my brain, picturing kindergarten, 2nd grade, 5th grade, 9th grade. Nothing. She is absent from any real memories. I can see my dad. My grandparents. I see my cousins, aunts. No mom. And if I do see her she has her arms folded over her chest and she’s glaring.

What childhood memories do I have?

Testing the waters each day to gauge the mood she was in and wondering if this was the day I could ask her about: going to a friend’s party, staying after school for a project, going to the mall or a movie.

Making vodka tonics for her when she got home from work, waiting anxiously for the bad mood to pass and her “couldn’t care less” attitude to take hold.

Keeping my three younger sisters quiet because she was studying or she was sleeping or she was sick.

My mother pulling my sister by the hair to get her to do something.

Laughing when we flinched if she made a sudden move, thinking we were about to be slapped.

The way she would barge into our room with such force, without knocking or calling out, and how we’d jump three feet into the air, hearts pounding.

Fists through the wall. Broken glass. Slamming doors.

Yelling. Lots of yelling.

Silence. Tip-toeing. Daring not to disturb the sleeping giant.

Because I have so few happy memories with my own mother I am panicked that I’m not creating them with my own children. I quiz my daughter, acting as if it’s a light-hearted exercise, “What’s your favorite memory of you and I when you were in grade school?” or “What’s a favorite vacation we took when you were little?”

The exercise is two-fold. I’m trying to reassure myself that I AM doing a good job. That I’m not repeating my mother’s mistakes. But I’m also trying to ingrain these positive memories, praying that she doesn’t forget the good times.

This is a part of me I’m not proud of. This insecurity I carry is unattractive and stifling. But I can’t seem to let it go. It keeps me focused. It keeps me from repeating negative behaviors.

And I desperately pray, it keeps the good childhood memories flowing for my precious angels.

(This post is part of the Five For Ten project at Momalom. Please visit their site for more wonderful posts on Memory. Or click the button below to find out how YOU can participate!)

28 Comments

Filed under children, Growing Up, Moms, Motherhood, parenting

Still Walking On Sunshine

Writing about my divorce yesterday stirred up memories.

And then my blog friend Leslie at Five To Nine  wrote about her courageous announcement to her parents when she became engaged at a young age, like me.

I noticed the calendar.

Gasp!

25 years ago today.

Yes, I was a child bride. Well, not a child. 21. But too young to know what I was choosing. Too young for me.

He was 10 years older than me. He had a successful career. He knew what he wanted. Who he was. I was still stifled by my parents. I wanted out. Out from their control. Away from my childhood.

And I was in love. I was following my heart. On that May 11th, 25 years ago, just before going out the door to arrive at the church, Katrina and the Waves came on MTV singing “Walking On Sunshine.”

“Wait,” I said to my sister, “I love this song!”

“We’re going to be late,” my sister said.

“I don’t care. I want this song in my heart today.”

So I sat there, with my hair and make-up expertly done, veil already attached. Wearing blue jeans, t-shirt and flip-flops. Soaking up the song. Singing along. Smiling like a fool.

I was so happy that day. So excited to start my new life.

As soon as it was over we raced to the church to get properly dressed, humming that song, dancing with my sister in the courtyard while we sang.

Every time after, whenever I’d hear that song I’d remember that beautiful day. My wedding day was like a fairytale. I have no bad memories. Nothing went wrong. Not that I can remember, anyway.

And then. Eleven years later. We divorced.

Not that popular of a song anymore, I rarely heard it. But when I did, I would fall into a sad little funk. What was I thinking? How could I have been so blind? I was so stupid.

Slowly, gradually, I’d hear the catchy refrain and I’d catch myself humming along. And I realized, it no longer reminded me of something I’d lost. It reminded me of what I was living now.

“Walking on sunshine. I feel alive. And it’s time to feel good!”

Always the optimist, always glass half full, “Walking On Sunshine” still has a power over me. If it comes on the radio I have to turn it up. If I’m home, I have to dance around the room with a child in hand. I grin like a fool every time I hear it.

Yes, 25 years ago today I took a chance on something that failed.

No. Not failed.

Ended.

And today I’m experiencing a new chapter – dancing, laughing, singing, crying. I have no idea where this chapter is taking me.

But I’m having a blast while I’m in it!

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Filed under Growing Up, Hey! That Reminds Me!, Music

Dear Mrs. Wood

Dear Mrs. Wood,

One of my mentors, a man I never met, died last month. I wrote about him on my blog.  It got me thinking about all of the wonderful teachers I’ve had in my lifetime. My thoughts immediately turned to you.

You were my fourth grade teacher. I had just moved to the area. I was shy. I was awkward. You made me feel like I belonged. As if I had been going to that school since kindergarten. You made me want to be a teacher. Just like you.

I remember afternoons, sitting cross-legged on the floor,  listening to “A Wrinkle In Time” and “From The Mixed Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” I remember math games and warm hugs.

Oh, the hugs. I wanted to escape into your arms every single day. I imagined your home smelled of ginger snaps and fresh laundry. I pictured books stacked high on tabletops and a garden in the back with ripe tomatoes. A cat lazily sunning on the porch. Two lemonade glasses, one for you and one for me.

I imagined going home with you – instead of my empty home. Someone to be there for me when I was scared. Someone to cook me dinner, instead of having to fend for ourselves. A place where kindness was typical and harsh words were few.

When I talked, you would listen with interest. You encouraged me to dream, to hope, to reach. In y0ur classroom, the possibilities were endless. I never felt criticized or helpless.

Remembering now, as an adult, I picture your classroom and it was bright, sunny, full of light. I picture my childhood house and see darkness, stillness and fear. No wonder I raced to school each day, earlier than anyone else – always the first one in line at the door.

My teeth were a mess and I desperately needed braces. You made me feel beautiful.

My home provided shelter. You provided warmth.

My parents were always too busy to listen to me. You dropped everything each time I opened my mouth.

Discipline at home was unpredictable and harsh. You counseled us with care and concern.

I miss you, Mrs. Wood. I miss that very important year in my life. A pivotal moment in my lifetime. A time I remember, oh so well.

It was the year I decided to become a teacher.

Just like you.

Much love,

Jane

19 Comments

Filed under Growing Up, Teaching

A Lucky Leprechaun Learns A Lesson From The Wee Little Ones

Those crafty leprechauns visited Jane’s house on Wednesday and left quite the scene!

I’m Irish. Complete with smilin’ Irish green eyes. Fiery temper? No. (but please don’t ask my husband) And St. Patrick’s Day is a fun day, to be sure. So before I left to do a few errands and pick up the boys from school I remembered to plot a little leprechaun mischief. But between the dry cleaners and the grocery store and the carpool line, I completely forgot about how I had left the house.

When we pulled into the garage I started barking orders: Don’t forget your lunch box, Take off your shoes, Wait – dump the sand out first, Hang up your jackets. My typical weekday refrain. This particular day, I was interrupted.

“Mom! Quick! You GOTTA see this! Hurry! The leprechauns were here!!!”

I raced in and faked surprise.

Their sweet little faces were lit up in wonder.

Stuffed animals watching TV.

Stuffed animals taking a nap.

Stuffed animals warming themselves by the fireplace.

 

Stuffed animals jammin’ to the radio.

“Do you think they did anything else?” #1son said excitedly, “Let’s go check!”

He and his little brother raced through the house looking for more clues. But there were none. And I was still standing there, stunned that they really thought leprechauns had brought all of the stuffed animals downstairs and arranged them ever so cleverly about the family room. I kept waiting for them to figure out that good ol’ mom had been messing with them. But the longer they chattered about how great and how funny the leprechauns were, the more I felt lame for not doing more.

“Mom, Look!” #2son shouted from the kitchen, “They even brought chocolate cupcakes for us!”

Six cupcakes, under the glass cake plate dome, purchased from the grocery store. Complete with green sprinkles and a little pot of gold on each one. He knows (and shares) my weakness for chocolate.

When are they going to figure it out? I wondered.

“Can we leave them out for Daddy to see? This is so funny!” #1son was hopping up and down.

“Of course, now go wash your hands for snack, ” I shooed them into the bathroom.

Childlike wonder. Innocent joy. It is so precious and fills my heart every time I witness it.

I’ve always known that I will encourage a suspension of disbelief when it comes to Santa Claus. (And you all know how I feel about Santa Claus) I believe in his spirit of kindness and giving. I know it exists. I believe Santa lives in all of us; we just need to know how to best share his gifts. But I never thought I’d continue a ruse about leprechauns. In fact, I purposely keep my kids out of the mall during Easter. I think that person dressed in a rabbit costume is ridiculous and I don’t want to take the chance that my kids would put 2 and 2 together and somehow attach their, however misguided, conclusions to Santa.

But maybe they’re onto something here. What’s wrong with a little wonder? A little magic in our day?

I’m part Irish – I could pass for a leprechaun.

And what fun it was! It brightened their afternoon. It brightened MY afternoon more than I had anticipated.

And they shared that joy with me.

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Filed under children, Growing Up

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?

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