When I grow up. . .
This morning my not-quite-two-year-old informed me that he was going to be an astronaut when he grew up. "I be astronaut," he said, "Fly Space Shuttle. ZOOM! Walk on moon." Now how he knows all about being an astronaut and flying to the moon is not of consequence for the moment. However, for the curious out there, its a combination of his fascination with the night sky, our time spent surfing the web looking at NASA's photo albums, and "The Shanna Show" short on Playhouse Disney.
His declaration got me thinking. When I was a kid, what were my career goals. (Not that I recall much from my 2nd year of life so we're talking "young child" not "toddler child.") I remember wanting to be a lot of things at various times and as I think it through I realize that in some way I've managed to reach many of those goals - at least in some form.
1. A Mommy - What little girl doesn't playhouse at some point in her childhood and pretend to be the big cheese? Ok, maybe some out there don't, but I did. I was going to marry Tommy from kindergarten and have two kids, a boy and a girl. Tommy's Dad was the Mayor so this was really a big deal at 5 years old - it was like marrying into the White House. Of course I only achieved half this goal. I am a Mommy. I do have a boy and a girl is on the way. I didn't, however, marry into the mayor's office. Tommy is now a funeral director in town and I married an older man I met at my first marketing job.
2. A ballerina - Oh I was all flushed thinking about wearing pink tutu's and pointy toed satin slippers. I took ballet lessons for what seemed like ages. "Run, Run, Run, Leap!" my teacher would command as she tapped her long pointer on the floor and with a fluid motion of her arm seemed to levitate us over a pile of records. I was going to be great. I am not a ballerina. I doubt my bigger-then-they-should-be hips and misc body parts would look all that hot in a tutu to be quite honest. BUT, I am a dancer. Of course my music is a far cry from Swan Lake. I dance around to the Wiggles and JoJo's Circus CDs. I don't get my body up on my toes much, but I do spin and dip a lot. I guess you can say I made it a third of the way there. Ha! Or less.
3. An Astronaut - yeah, I too wanted to fly through space. My math skills, however, left much to be desired and my interest gradually waned. I'm fascinated by the stars and what not, I just have no desire to actually fly that close to them. When we took our "IVF failed miserably we're going to wallow in the fact that we'll never have kids" trip to Tahiti, we paid to have this nutty British guy give us a "night sky tour" in Moorea. It was one of the best things we did that trip - and that trip was amazing from start to finish. But, like I said, standing on a hilltop with a pair of a binoculars and a nutty professor complete with umbrella as pointer is different than strapping in to experience zero gravity. The closest I get today is laying in the grass on a cool night, pointing to the moon, stars and planets as we tell our son what is what. I don't even think that counts as getting very far to the career goal.
4. A Teacher - Yup. Another stereotypical little girl thing. I'm sure there are a zillion girls that never wanted to teach, but at one point I did. I remember making tests for my brother to take and grading them when he was done scribbling away on them. (He is, afterall, four years younger.) As I moved through school, other long-term career goals got in my way, but it is something I've reconsidered a few times in my adult life. I even went as far as attending a seminar on alternate route certification. I thought teaching would be a great way to allow me to be home when my school aged children were. But alas, there's that older man I mentioned previously. We spoke at length and since I can earn more in a corporate world than a teacher will its important that I be in a point in my career that I can be considered 'primary bread winner' when the kids are college-aged. My dear husband will, at that time, be a sweet 60-something year old man. It scares him. He worries about his ability to have a job with decent pay and benefits when he's 60. My father is nearing 57 and is convinced he's going to be offered an early retirement package by January from the company he's been with for over 35 years. Hubby knows this and it scares him more. Being 13 years younger than the 'old man' of mine, I know he's right, I do have to be in a position in my career that I can be "the provider." So teaching is a done idea.
That said - even though I'm not a teacher in a formal career sense, I am still a teacher by default. All parents are. I taught my son to walk. I taught him his alphabet. I've taught him to count to 14. I've taught him the language skills he has. I've taught him about the moon, the astronauts and the Space Shuttle. I've taught him about trucks and planes and trains. I've taught him to feed himself and to pick out his own shirts. I've taught him to say please and thank you. And I keep teaching him new things every day.
This week my mom taught me when to plant tomatoes and how to cover the beds with grass clippings to help keep the weeds down. She taught me how to feign excitement over the 10-millionth bulldozer we see in a day. She's taught me how to be a good mother...and from that I know that my in formal job as 'teacher' never ends. Career goal obtained without pay.
5. A lawyer - My aunt was a lawyer - a corporate lawyer that used to work for Hanna Barbarah (bad spelling!?) and used to send me calendars filled with cartoon characters. I wanted to be a lawyer too. Then I spent the day, as a child, with a real attorney and I decided that it was actually quite boring. To me, being a lawyer was only good when you had Perry Mason type moments and seeing as how those could be few and far between, the job lost its appeal.
6. A writer - This is the one that made it all the way. My "Day Job" has been in marketing. Even now, in my technically self-employed state, my primary contract is to perform marketing and public relations duties for my former company. In this role I write. I write a lot. I write everything from press releases and trade show signs to white papers and sell sheets.
I also have this blog - no pay but lots of satisfaction in that I can write what I want, when I want to. On the money side, I've ventured into the freelance market and have written a wee bit for publication. Its not a lot and I certainly should get off my ass and pitch more ideas so I can write more for pay...which is actually in reality more about the glory of seeing my name in print. I have a ton of excuses why I've not pitched more to date. Nothing worth wasting time over now though. They are, in fact, just excuses.
All of this certainly falls short of that novel I was going to write at 13 and its all very different from what I set out to do as a college Freshman. I'll have you know that I was going to challenge the fame of Woodward and Burnstein someday. I was going to be a great reporter. A red-headed Lois Lane. That was me. Then my journalism professor had a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer speak to us. All I can recall today about that lecture is that journalist get crappy pay to have the one hightest suicide and divorce rates in the country. Understandably, when you put that up against the speaker we had in our PR class, writing for papers lost some of its luster.
The way I see it, I'm young - I'll only be 31 at the end of this month. I have time to write that novel. My fiction writing professor used to drum into our heads the rule that you "write what you know" if you want to write a good piece of fiction. I don't feel like I know enough yet - at least nothing interesting and so I put off the great novel. Some day maybe I'll do it. I just haven't felt a book begging to get out of my head yet. Essay's - sure...they become blog entries and some day maybe things I pitch for the heck of it...but books no. At least no book since I hit a point in maturity to recognize what was a "good story" vs some sort of cruddy predictable teenage vision of great literature. ;)
So I guess, looking back on it, my little kid dreams of "when I grow up" weren't so far off. Then again, I'm not "all" grown-up yet by any stretch of the imagination. That'll come later. For now, there's still time to grow and learn and expand.