When I was a little girl, I went through several phases of what I dreamed about being when I grew up.
I recently had a writer friend tell me she discovered her journal and several essays she wrote as a young girl. She found it humorous and intriguing that her younger self had such a beautiful (and accurate) sense of what she wanted to be when she grew up. And here she is, living that very dream her younger version birthed, fed, nurtured, chased, wrestled, and succeeded in accomplishing.
My friend’s trip down memory lane prompted a journey of my own little girl hopes and dreams. How many came true? How many died a slow and painful death? How many are still percolating in my much-older, but still very in-tune, with the mind of that little girl I once was…
I recall wanting to own a plant nursery. I took my hard-earned and harder saved (it wasn’t really that hard-earned) allowance and bought three or four basic houseplants at my hometown’s local Wal-Mart (Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets did not exist at the time).
I set up a special place in the corner of my bedroom, underneath a south-facing window where my plant babies could get plenty of sun. I watered them faithfully, every day. I talked to them, I sang to them (perhaps that was a bad idea), I made sure they had plenty of light and water. I was passionate about this dream. For about a week and a half, before my plant babies basically…died. It was a cruel case of drowning via over-watering.
My dream of owning my own greenhouse/plant nursery died, along with those plants I inadvertently killed…in record-breaking time.
A few years later, I decided I wanted to be a teacher. I had no siblings with which to play school. Rather, I lined my favorite stuffed animals and dolls up in my bedroom and proceeded to teach them all I had learned about life, up to the rife old age of…10.
This was something I continued throughout high school, as I discovered that teaching what I had learned in class helped to retain the knowledge and overcome my test anxiety. Win-win. I decided to major in Early Education in college. Until…I discovered Sociology. My dreams of educating young minds quickly flew out the window. I was now going to study people and change the world by what I learned about them.
Turns out, I learned all people are crazy with varying levels of the ability to control their specific neurosis. I also learned that without a masters or doctorate in this field, there was not much of a calling for a professional sociologist. I gotta hand it to my Mom and Dad for not losing their minds when I changed my relatively safe, generic, and job-friendly major to one I am sure they did not understand how on earth I would translate to a career.
They encouraged me, supported me, and kept their sage and wise life-experience advice to themselves. I owe them so much!
I briefly went through a phase of wanting to be a veterinarian, or maybe a veterinarian technologist. Way less school, less debt, and still a healthy level of animal handling, which was all I was really after in the first place.
I recall the day I job shadowed a vet tech. It was surgery day for a young male cat. He was getting neutered. Piece of cake.
Until…I saw that poor male cat, with his legs spread on the cold metal table, a surgery towel over his upper half, and the vet gingerly cut into the…well, I passed out just before the surgery steps were fully revealed.
Once I came to, from the harsh cold concrete floor of the procedure room, with Mr. Kitty still lying on the table completely oblivious to what he was about to lose, I was kindly asked if I was well enough to drive. When I responded ‘Yes’, I was told this probably wasn’t the job for me and given a pink slip…from a volunteer position!
Despite the many rose-colored dreams of what I wanted to be when I grew up, the one job I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I wanted more than anything else in the world, was to be a Mother.
THIS dream never faltered, wavered, declined, or changed. It was always there in the recesses of my mind, that someday I would have one or two offspring that would far exceed any other dream I had ever entertained.
Turns out, I was right. Being a mother is the absolute BEST job I have ever been blessed to know. It challenges me, it frustrates me, it teaches me, and it warms my heart to a degree unparalleled by any other life experience I have faced.
Little did I know that becoming a mother would require many of the former dream job qualifications I dabbled in as a child.
The nurturing of those plants in my bedroom greenhouse? Thank goodness my sons fared better than the green foliage. While my first son and I had a devil of a time figuring out the breast-feeding thing, we finally managed to make it work. With my second, it was just plan easy…like the most natural thing in the world. Because…it is the most natural thing in the world.
Those endless schoolroom lessons I taught? What better way to practice teaching my own children (that was before I knew being a zoom homeschool teacher for an entire year would actually one day be my reality).
While my animal doctor dream fell flatter than my body when I passed out during the cat’s surgery, I have somewhat overcome my fear of blood and other less-than-desirable bodily fluids. Having babies cured me of many of my never-ending list of OCD tendencies. I had to deal with an acid reflux baby that threw up (on me) more times a day than seemed physically possible.
I had to contend with another kid that stuck a raisin up his nose…much further than I would think humanly possible. I have been to the ER more times than I can count, and both my kids have had rabies shots due to a bizarre bat encounter when they were in preschool. I have personally lived more ‘weird medical tales from the ER’ than a series on TLC. My kids survived. More surprisingly, I survived. (Perhaps I should audition for that reality show)?
Looking back on those precious dreams I had as a young , naive, innocent, fresh-faced little girl, I see that in some mystically destined way, they have all come true. Maybe not in the exact way I thought they would, as a high-paying career, with countless diplomas on the wall and random letters behind my name. Yet, each of those dreams I had has beautifully and fatefully manifested into the career I am most passionate about….being a Mother to the two most perfectly imperfect little boys on the planet.
Each qualification, lesson learned, messed up outcome, success, and redirection my many career paths have taken, have all led to my destination as a mother to these two precious little guys.
My dream job then.
My dream job now.
A career I will never out-grow, lose passion for, transfer, or retire. I am a lifelong Mother. For better or worse. In good times and bad. My greatest dream as a little girl….the one dream that actually stuck.
The one dream that gives my life more meaning than any other job I can imagine has come true. I revel in living each gloriously crazy, hectic, harried, stressful, overwhelming, exhausting, yet beautifully fulfilling, surprising, exciting, and heart-warming new day.
Doing what I love and loving what I do finally revealed itself fully to me the day I became….Mom.