What to be When You Grow Up
Yesterday at our two youngest sons’ school, it was “Dress-Up As Who You Want to be When You Grow Up” day.
Red Ribbon Week is killer. I had curated 10 outfits that coincide with the day’s apparel. Actually, I am pretty impressed with myself. Not only was I fully cognizant of the week’s events, but I am also fully prepared.
Today they are going to school in their pajamas. I am best at this one. It never will grow old, pajamas, we got pajamas.
So, Charlie, the four-year-old wanted to grow up and be a giant spider. After an hour of arguing, crying, and me trying to encourage him while firmly explaining that it is impossible for a boy to grow into a large arachnid, he agreed to be, a “dinosaur digger.”
Thank you, Walmart, for providing a $7.00 shirt that affirms this boy’s second choice calling.
To the opposite degree, Sam knew exactly what he wanted to grow to be, a builder. He wanted to wear a shirt like my husband wears and borrow one of Justin’s hard hats. Super simple. However, on the way to school, while listening to Sam’s favorite song by Kanye West, Stronger, the rhythm, as Gloria Estefan predicted… got him.
Sam, howled, “Mommy! Weems gots to go back to the house! I changed my mind! Please, I don’t wants to grow up to be a builder! I wants to grow up to be a dancer!”
“I am not going to back. Forget it, I have an appointment and you don’t actually have to grow up to be what you are dressed up as today. You are only six! It’s just a fun day. You are a builder, Charlie is a Dinosaur digger and I am a mom raging against all things Red Ribbon Week!”
Sam burst into tears, “I gots a bag of dem sequins! You can just sew dem on my shirt and pants! Please! I just gotta dance.”
So, we drove back to the house…
I dropped off a builder and a Dinosaur digger. I feel certain that Sam’s Latino roots afford him a little ba-dunk-dunk. And yes, we do love Kanye. But there is no scenario in my life where I sew two thousand purple sequins onto my 6-year—old son’s clothes and send him to school where he would be devoured and forever remembered as the kid that wore a sequined costume to 1st grade career day.
He’ll thank me later.
I arrived home to clean and prepare for the celebration of our son, Luke’s, 19th birthday. Also, to hide all the sequins. As I prepared for an interview with Xamayta Graver, I thought about career days of the past. I thought about what I wanted to be and what I wanted my kids to be.
I dug the sequins out of the trash.
There are things I can control. Certainly, there are sequins to be sewn. There are things I can and have done to foster dreams.
Most assuredly, there are ones I have stifled.
I hung little boy shirts on little blue hangers, fresh out of the dryer. Then, I changed Super-hero sheets and loaded the dishwasher with cups and their no-spill lids. I tripped over Luke’s enormous shoes, shoes, he prefers not to wear. He never did grow out of that “phase.” And I reflected on the 19-years- of shoe battles, and how society behaves. and how that never influenced Luke’s choices. Thank God.
Who are these people? Heaven only knows all the things they will be. All the things they will try and fail at, try and succeed at, and try… and love, or regret. Or, how they will grow.
What did I want to be when I grew up?
Better still what do I want to be when I finally grow up?
Well, I remember that I wanted to be a dancer, and then a newscaster. I remember I thought, I would only be happy if I were famous. And, I remember about four years ago, when I realized, no… fame is not something I would ever want.
My mind wandered as I made beds and made my way to the office for my interview. In junior high, a teacher told me that girls don’t have many career choices. She said, “Girls don’t have many career options when they grow up. They can be mommies, which is not a REAL career, a nurse, a secretary, or a teacher.”
If memory serves, I remember thinking, “Well, that’s stupid. I hope she is wrong.”
She was, and she is.
I have been a lot of things. And I know, I will be many others.
This is the truth for my children as well. They can go and do and be many things. However, no matter what they become, whatever they master, or fail at, no matter the path, they are forever my babies.
Truly, it is the best and worst job in the world. Pour your entire being into the growth and development of a human, and when they are 18 (0r before,) they will go and do whatever they please. You have no say. No retirement plan, no benefits. You will receive no pay, you will never get a full night’s sleep again, and they reserve the right to call or come home or not. There is nothing you can do about it.
Meeeeeeeee! Pick me! I want to do that job! I really want to wear mom jeans and say stuff my mom said, that I said, I would never say. Yes, let me go out for coffee with other educated like-minded women and talk about the madness of missing socks and how little sleep I have had since 1995.
And it is.
I am a mom.
Whether or not I sew sequins on Sam’s pajamas, or convince Maggie to quit her day job to pursue her passion, I am their mom.
Sure, Luke, our hippie-baby and his father are entirely different. Still, they are in the garage, celebrating Luke’s 19th birthday by crafting a make-shift table saw. Something which I neither condone nor will participate until I must put a severed finger on ice and drive one or both of them to the Emergency Room. They are entirely apart from each other, and a part of each other.
I pray those parts remain unsevered.
Truth be told, I begged our oldest son, John, not to join the Marines. I know this is cowardice. But I know him, or I claimed to. He is gentle. This Marine knows only compassion. Still, his argument upon signing was, “This is who I am, mom. This is who you raised me to be.”
I have recounted when the heck I ever said things that instilled “Marine” in him. However, he is happy. And he is indeed a Marine. He would lay down his life so that you and I could be free to agree or disagree and still be free. Sure, he is marrying one of my best friend’s daughters in May. And yes, I did pray that prayer. But I actually take no credit for this brilliant option.
Sophie and Maggie continue to have some things I recognize from me… and others, that are like nothing I would have considered. Thank God.
As I watch them grow, I am delighted in who they are.
Most assuredly I have been criticized for calling the vandals, Sam and Charlie, the vandals. My only defense is this… my words, whether playful or stern, only determine a tiny factor in these humans and what they will become. They are loved. And, I believe in their good character. Even when the toilet needs replaced, again.
My hopes are grand. Though, my God is grander. I know they must grow and go. The things I wish for myself and the beings that call me mom are quite diverse. But, the God of my heart, He is streamlined, stealth, and has prepared a way. When I am not there, even if they forget to call on Him, He is there. He is the God of restoration. And for this I am most grateful.my words, whether playful or stern, only determine a tiny factor in these humans and what they will become. They are loved. #mom Click To Tweet
Whether I fail as mom or succeed, He is everything.
Of all the things I do, the things I will do, He is everything.
And of my children, let it be said, I hope when they grow up, this is their truth.
Everything they are and everything they hope to be.
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
May you walk after Him, and fear Him and keep His commandments and obey his voice. May you serve Him and hold fast to Him.” Deuteronomy 13:4
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