This morning at about 7.00, I almost pulled out ten pans from the cabinet to find that tiny omelet pan which the commercial swore would make my mornings easy; my husband almost pushed my son into the shower and I almost shoved the milk cup into my daughter’s little mouth – in other words, it was a regular school day morning! My daughter seemed lost in thought and suddenly asked, “Mom, what do you want to be when you grow up?” For a second I thought I lost it completely since we were to start in 10 minutes and we still had to wear shoes, fill the water bottles, pack a snack, tuck the shirt in and brush the hair. But she wouldn’t budge until she got an answer so I said, “ummm, I want to write, now run”. She said, “You know you should come to Kindergarten with me. Ms. S is a great writer; she’s teaching us how to write. She can help you”.
That afternoon, over a cup of tea, I thought about it again. So, what do I want to be when I grow up? We are always asking our kids this. But do I have a plan, an idea of how my life would be once I have the time and maturity to think beyond myself and my little problems? “I want to go on a world tour; I want to be more spiritual, I’ll study the scriptures and live life peacefully; I want to take up music/yoga/dance that I left off since the kids need my time and attention now.” I’ve heard these from some friends, but it isn’t really about retirement and empty nest; as much about growing up and not growing old. Can we have a self of our own, within the life of our own, right now? It’s probably different things for different people. I’ll know I am growing up when I can do at least some of the following, verbatim.
· I think about a good friend of mine that I talk to on phone regularly and imagine having her family over on that perfect weekend. Instead, I’ll drive away instantly to her house to just be with her for a few minutes before I pick up the kids from school.
· I volunteer at school sometimes whenever there’s a call for help within the time frames that fit my schedule. Instead, I’d go to every PTA meeting at 7 PM at school just to show my support for all the wonderful volunteers out there and not worry about dinner, homework and sleep routines of my kids.
· I'd volunteer with my kids more frequently at the institutions I support and not just donate some money or goods once a year in a conscience-cleansing attempt.
· I would not judge me when I come face to face with a guard down version of myself.
· I would not strive to turn every experience into a teaching moment when I am spending time with the kids. Watching movies, reading together, visiting or entertaining friends and family, homework time, when they are down from a loss at game, class test or a fight with a friend, excited about a win – can I just let them enjoy or get over the moment without getting worked up myself?
· I’d smile more, laugh even more, fret a little less, accept my limitations, embrace my imperfections, let go of a little, hold on to a few things even more tight, in other words just find that little person lost in piles of hoarded layers of life.
I don’t think she appreciates all this right now, but when she “grows up,” I’ll show her this post and tell her this was my answer to her question.
That evening, my husband came home giggling about something. On the way to school, my daughter had asked him where he would go after work. He answered, “I come home”. She said, “No, not home. Where do you go AFTER work?" Since he works late most of the time, he thought she must’ve assumed he was going out to do fun stuff after work and decided to enlighten her on the fact that he works very hard for all of us. After the lecture, she was frustrated and gave an example: “See, I went to Kinder after preschool, right? Brother went to 3rd grade after 2nd; cousin went to college after high school; just like that, where do you go after work? Don’t tell me you have nowhere to go!” God, the girl never stops thinking, does she?