I’m 46 years old. I should know what I want to be when I grow up but lately I’ve been waking up not knowing. I went to college later in life- at age 29 I graduated- and I got a degree in Anthropology and African American Studies. To be honest at the time- I went back to school I was simply looking to get a Batchelor’s degree and fast. I had an Associates degree and knew that if I had a 4 year degree I could get a better paying job. I had intended to go back and get a Masters of Education after a few years of working but husband and kids- that didn’t pan out.
I don’t regret going to college but I regret rushing through it. I had gone to Community College when I was only 15 1/2- I quit high school due to extended absences from illness and since they would not matriculate me- I was not doing 9th grade for 3rd time. I had missed over 50 days of school Freshman year and again in Sophomore year (Pneumonias and bronchitis plagued me). So I left and went to the local Community College where they happily took my parents money in exchange for me attending and I loved it. I just essentially used it to “finish highschool” so when I went to a 4 year school 10 years later-I had NO clue what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I knew I had limited funds and had to pay myself so I asked the registrar “What can I get done in 18 months? for the lowest cost…” and that is how I ended up with my major/minor. I loved the education, I loved the learning but in the end I graduated doing the same exact desk job I did before. I just worked at the college I had attended vs locally and because of that and the commute into the city I actually ended up getting paid less. I had to use my “extra money” to pay for commuter rail passes and expensive city lunches. I went to college and honestly got no benefit except that I met my husband while I was there.
I didn’t have internet at home- this was back in the dark ages- 1998/1999 and I didn’t have a huge dating pool of guys from my small town in Massachusetts so I put an online dating ad one day while I was at work, on lunch. I would happily arrive 10 min early to work to check my messages and in the 1998-1999 school year I dated 45 people. Dated is sort of the word for it. I had 45 blind dates, of which about 6 were more than one date. But on June 5, 1999 I went on my last blind date and #45 is who I am now married to and I am grateful for that.
I graduated in 1999 and began working as an Admin for one of the Deans of the college. It was a rewarding job and fun but it was boring after about a year. I was far too skilled to continue doing the job but on paper had no real skills to do anything else. Sure, I could go back to school and get my Masters but who could afford that? Not me. So I focused on myself and went to work like a drone. My husband and I got married and began having kids and I put school and work on the back burner. My husband made enough money to support us and we talked and I really wanted to be the day to day person raising our kids and since they had medical issues after they were born it was decided. I would stay home.
I stayed home until 2010 when I began working part time at the kids school. I was so passionate because I had truly wanted to be a teacher. I was looking forward to it and realized with a 4-year degree I could pass the MTELS and teach while I got a Masters Degree in Education. I was hooked. But my plans were derailed when we discovered our youngest son was allergic to the school building and the mold found within it. It was not bad enough for them to do any real remediation but it was bad enough that my son couldn’t enter the building and thus I began my 5+ year journey homeschooling our 3 children. I became a teacher, just not the way I had planned.
So that “teaching job” ended about 18 months ago as my kids decided to go back to school. Meanwhile we’ve moved a few times- Watertown, MA, Wellesley, MA, Littleton, MA, Shirley, MA, Seattle, WA, Somerset, MA, and now we are in Palatine, IL. We’ve been busy. Job changes and we’d move. That is all over a 20 year span mind you but still- it was a lot of moving. I had a part time job for a bit and now I’m stuck with “What do I want to be when I grow up?” again. I really don’t know.
I love to write and have written a book, Continue to Live and Flourish, a Guide to Surviving it All. I really enjoyed writing it but it hasn’t done superbly well. I self-published it and it’s a personal accounting of my life and although it’s a good representation of who I am, it’s not going to be a show-stopper in terms of sales. I have in the works a YA fiction novel based on my life but taken back quite a few years. It’s full of family drama, a teenager who is depressed and suicidal and about how she makes a friend and he helps her realize her worth and she seeks therapy and gets better and her life becomes whole again. That is really my story except I haven’t found that “thing” yet that I want to do with my life. Unless it is writing in which case I’m doing “my thing” right now.
As much as I have been a successful student, wife, mother and “teacher”, I feel like I am a failure because I don’t do anything right now that people can put their hands on and say “Wow- you did that!?” Maybe I don’t need that sort of recognition but I feel a bit empty not having an answer for “What do you do for work? Now that your kids are back to school and all.” What do you say to that?
While I figure all of that out I can assure you that I have a good life. To be honest, I do not know how folks work full time and raise their kids. No judgement, I just can’t fathom it. I am up in the morning at 5:45am 6 days a week. I rise-get coffee and begin packing lunches, fixing breakfasts and driving 3 kids to school at 3 different times. Thankfully this year I’m involved in a carpool so some days I only have to drive twice! That’s just mornings, afternoons- forget about it- I should just don a taxi hat. I am in the car some days from 2:30pm to 5pm non stop back and forth to the house- and occasionally 20 min waiting for someone outside a violin lesson. And that doesn’t include the evening activities which thankfully we have reduced to 2 nights a week and occasionally more- most of the “more” is me attending Booster meetings and PTA meetings and Scout meetings. I’m tired and I do not have a full time job.
What I’d love to do is feel fulfilled. I want to feel like my “job” is good enough and maybe that is just a “me talking” thing vs. how the world views me. I know plenty of people that think it’s enough that I am attempting to be an author and a writer and that I have a family and a husband who travels and that I have to maintain the household or we’d all die without paid help. Maybe that is enough. Heck if you had to hire a driver/nanny to take the kids hither and fro you’d be broke by days end. John goes to work at 7am and his home by 6pm- he’d never be able to do any of the carting around. Maybe what I do is enough and I can stop here, but somewhere deep inside I know there is more.
Do I go back to school at 46 and get that Masters? But now in what? Teaching has changed so much I’m not sure I want to do that. Social Work? Therapist? I don’t know. All I know is I still have time to figure it out. And why not? Hopes and dreams have no age limit. Wanting a full life is a dream we should all have and strive for. For now- I’ll go and get my writers hat on and try to figure out how my 2 main characters figure out middle school and high school. I have to make it relevant to today so I am using some of the kids stories of their experiences to make it more realistic to today. Back in 1980’s when I was in both middle and high school there were no cell phones, no social media and none of the tech we have today. Makes me glad I went to school then to be honest.
So for now, I’ll leave you to figure out “What I want to be when I grow up.”