07/19/2024

Remember all those times when you were asked “what do you want to be when you grow up”? Maybe that’s what your fourth-grade teacher asked. I remember being asked this question while sitting at a wooden desk with a pencil holder and each student walking around the neatly arranged desk. The answer for many boys was: “I want to be a firefighter when I grow up.” The other boys replied: “Astronauts”. “A policeman.” “A peasant.”

The girl in my classroom replied, “I want to be a nurse.” “Teacher.” It was a time when career paths were very narrow.

Throughout my childhood, I had many answers. Thoughts, daydreams and fantasies fill my brain. When I grow up, I want to be a translator for the United Nations, wear those bulky headphones, and master French translation, which I think is very important for fascinating international communications.

When I grow up, I want to be the first lady. Not the president. Oh no. I was an impressionable kid, fascinated by the stylish socialite Jackie Kennedy in the lobby of the White House. I picture myself wearing those gorgeous designer gowns with an elegant string of pearls around my neck, sitting at a banquet table filled with delicate china and crystal, conversing with visiting dignitaries in Jackie’s distinctive accent.

When I grow up, I want to be a famous TV reporter, appearing every night on the huge TV in everyone’s living room. There were no remote controls back then, and you had to walk across the room to change channels or turn the volume up or down.

When I grow up, I want to be an animal trainer, cuddling and feeding a baby orangutan in the next episode of Marin Perkins’ Wild Kingdom of Omaha Mutual Aid.

When I grow up… But wait! I’ve grown up! Have all these dreams come true? No.

This situation is interesting. Have I ever imagined what my life will be like when I grow up? As the famous saying goes, “If only I knew then what I know now”.

If so, I would answer my 4th 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 recycled stuff, make breakfast bowls (at noon), iron the tablecloths, wash the three clothes.”

Yes. It was my awesome day, today.

This is my reality as the adult I have become – as a mother, wife, friend, volunteer, writer, retiree, cook, spiritually curious, woman who marvels at a pink orange sunset , a person who loves to laugh. Now that I’ve grown up, I’m all these things. there are more.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Who are you today, now that you have grown up?

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