What do I want to be when I grow up? I think I've been asking myself that question probably since I was first aware that someday I would, in fact, grow up. Or maybe since I realized that being "grown up" was different than my current state of being. I can remember at times wanting to be a doctor, a writer, a musician, and a costume designer. In high school I had a lot of different interests and talents so I had many options open to me when I started college. By then I began to focus a little more. For a short time I wanted to be a buyer for Macy's. I was interested in business and fashion, and it seemed like I might end up being something in one or both of those fields. Then as college came to an end, I realized what I really wanted to be when I grew up was a wife and a mother.
At some time in the process of getting married and having children I decided I must be grown up. I had apparently reached that place in my life where I was something. I defined myself by my jobs: a full-time wife and mother and part-time accountant, as well as part-time volunteer at church and school. My favorite job title was Mom.
Now that my children are grown and gone my job description has changed and I'm back to wondering what I want to be when I grow up. I'm a young empty-nester embarking on a new chapter of my life and realizing I still have decades ahead of me to plan for, and I'm supposed to BE something, right? I could have a full-time career for the next 25 years, but what would I do and why don't I know what I want to be?
Today I realized I've been looking for the wrong answers. In fact, my whole framework was wrong. Being grown up isn't some state I will reach and then I'm somehow finished or complete. Growing is a continual process. "Up" isn't an absolute measurement, but somewhere above wherever I am right now. And what I am can't be summed up in a few short titles.
What do I want to be when I grow up? I still don't know all the answers but I have some ideas. I want to be happy and healthy. I want to be kind and giving. I want to be strong and resilient. I want to be curious and adventurous. I want to be a good example and a good friend. I want to be a wife and a mother and eventually a grandma. Some of those things come easily to me and some are going to take a lot of effort. But that's ok, because I still have a lot of growing up to do. I don't need to be defined by a job or career or title. I want to practice all these qualities, and if the time comes when I am actually grown up I hope I've at least made some progress in becoming what I want to be.