Saturday, March 19, 2011

When I Grow Up

I'm 38 years old.  And I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

While in high school I dabbled in babysitting, working in a fabric store and a flower shop, and lifeguarding at the local swimming hole.  I knew I'd never do any of that for the rest of my life, though being a lifeguard on Baywatch did seem to have it's perks.

The first career that I remember wishing for, when I was a little girl, was to be a teacher.  I think that's common for little girls when they enter school.  I had discovered some great teachers and often tried to emulate them while playing school with my best friend in her basement or my attic.

I remember, too, wanting to be come a marine biologist.  I think what I really dreamed of was to swim with the dolphins and pick up seashells on the shore and snorkle over a coral reef.  Nevermind all that research.  I just wanted to be near those graceful creatures and touch them and steal some of their magic and smile as they smiled, neverending, at me.

At one time, I even wanted to be a nurse.  Specifically, an ER nurse.  I would watch various "medical" shows on TV, like Trapper John MD and Quincy, and thought that would be a glamorous life.  All the excitement and yet helping those in their most needful hours.

I didn't do any of that.  I didn't even go to college.  Well, that's not entirely true.  My agenda when I was in my senior year of high school was to marry the boy I loved and be his wife and mother to his children.  That part came true.  And I still hold those titles today; and as battered as they are, they still bring me joy.

My parent's, on the other hand, wanted me to get some more education.  They never, ever pushed college onto me.  I don't even remember them suggesting it.  They did, however, request (demand) that I take a scholorship test for a year's tuition at a technical school.  I surrendered and did as they asked, so unwillingly.  And I won the scholarship.

I married 2 months after my high school graduation, moved 3 hours away, supported my husband as he finished his college career, and finished a 9 month program at the technical school.  I now held a medical Receptionist certificate and had no idea what to do with it.

My first "real" job was as a parts secretary in a corporation that produced big machines - machines that made other things.  It paid the bills, but I did not want to do that the rest of my life.  I left the job when we moved home 9 months later.

Next, I was an administrative assistant (aka secretary and receptionist) for our local Cooperative Extension office.  It was enjoyable, for the most part, but again, nothing I was over-the-top about.  Seven years and 2 children later, that came to an end and I became a stay-at-home mom.

After baby number three, the illness (and eventual death) of my grandmother, and a failed home business, I went back to work part-time.  I became the office manager of a funeral home and medical transportation office.

The medical transportation part was OK.  But the funeral home ... strange as it sounds ... that was were I could envision myself for the rest of my working days.  I was helping people.  Helping them make decisions and guiding them through one of the hardest times in their lives.  Some days were really, really hard - I'll never forget the day I helped a young mother choose a casket for her child.  But I felt like I made a difference, like what I was doing actually mattered to someone.

I eventually left that position for personal reasons.  I chose my family over the job I loved.  And in the end, it was the right decision.  Family will come first ... always.

Today I work in a physician's office.  I am a receptionist.  I'm finally holding the title that matches my certificate that I received nearly 20 years ago.  I enjoy the people I work with and the people I've come to know as our patients.  But I'm still restless.  I can't envision myself here until retirement, but I won't leave anytime soon.  Not without some intervention from God.

Which brings me here.  What do I really want to be when I grow up?  I still don't know.  Maybe I never will. 

I toy with the idea of working in a funeral home again.  I have no desire to go back to school to become a funeral director - that just would never happen with 3 children and a home to take care of.  But an assistant, even if it's just in the office?  I can do that.  I know that.  Truthfully, though, I can't picture ever touching this career again. 

I know have a desire to help people, sometimes I think young people, teenagers.  But I have no clear path, no plan.

But I think I'm finally beginning to understand who I want to be.  And this is probably so much more important that the "whats" in life.  No, it IS.

I've recently been following Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience, and God is touching me through her words, her photos, her joy.  I want to be that joyful wife and mother, the one that finds a blessing in every minute of her crazy day.  I want to count my gifts (One Thousand Gifts and more!) and let the gratitude flow and never cease.  I want to be comfort, a safe place, showing wisdom and mercy and grace.

I want to be "Ann" when I grow up.  No, that's not it at all.  I want to be like Him.

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