I was never one of those kids who could picture herself in 10 years. I knew I'd be older, but I never had a clear idea as to where. I could never imagine me wearing one hat or another - living in one house over another. I didn't have the same answer twice when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Well, here I am, and I'm still a little dumbfounded about how it happened.
See, for all of my wondering, I never ever even came close to picturing me, mom of 3, scooping turds out of the bathtub by hand after dinner one night and thinking, "Great, I'm going to have to fold those diapers after the kids go to bed because I have to sanitize the 8,743 bath toys that were marinating in bacteria." No. No, sir, I did not picture those words coming out of my mouth.
When I was busy seeking higher education and immersing myself in academia, I had a hard time finding direction; I didn't know if I wanted to go into world politics or into teaching. I didn't know if I was going to write important works of literature or advance cures for awful diseases. It didn't matter what it
was, as long as I was making an impact somewhere.
But I had no idea it would come in the form of raising babies to be good people.
Nope. At my wedding, our priest said something about "being blessed with many children" or something like that and I have a video of me grimacing at the mention of bountiful offspring because I wasn't sure if I was ready for ONE child, let alone "many" of them. I didn't know what I wanted except to be with my husband for eternity.
Well, somewhere in there, something changed and now I wouldn't trade my life for anything in the universe. I adore my kids and my role as a mother and homemaker - even when I'm trying to hold it together through tantrums and maelstroms of bodily functions and worries over every single weird medical symptom. (And I never would have imagined how many weird medical symptoms kids exhibit, by the way.) It's unbelievable that I'm so happy letting my brain go to mush and letting my degrees hang uselessly on the wall next to framed pictures of Thomas the Tank Engine... that where once I could tell you how the electoral system in Germany worked, I can now tell you the entire Disney Channel morning lineup for both summer and fall. Where once I immersed myself in classic literature and read The Iliad for fun, now I have "The Little Engine that Could" memorized and have special voices for characters.
I think, during all my years of wandering without direction, I was wandering towards this without knowing it. I think I lacked a sense of direction because I was too young and immature to realize that this was the perfect fit for me and I was unable to force myself down a different path. I think that maybe I heard a special Someone calling me towards this, and because I had left myself open, I followed.
Is my life different now that I am Mommy and Wife instead of Ms. Popular or Ms. Overachiever? It is and it isn't. It's different because the things I do are not the same. Instead of searching for the perfect pair of heels to wear with those skinny jeans, I spend months choosing and sewing Halloween costumes. But the reason I do the things is no different - my priorities are no different. As always, I put others first, and I want to be the best I possibly can be.. the best mother I can be... the best wife I can be... the best person I can be. So just because I'm striving to overachieve in this job instead of in a skyscraper, glass-walled, corner office in Manhattan, it doesn't mean that I'm not the same fundamental person... and that makes me feel like a success.
So I wish only one thing: that I could go back and tap Ms. Overachiever on the shoulder and whisper, "Hey Girl, listen. You are going to end up happy if you follow your heart and are true to yourself like all the Disney movie songs will tell you, but don't forget to enjoy every single second of life until then and don't
worry about stressing over and planning every single step perfectly because there's a good chance you're going to end up in the right place no matter what. Have some faith... Life. Is. Good. Remember your roots and remember to be thankful for your blessings and you'll be just fine."
Because let me tell you, this journey is incredible - and made even more so by not being too focused on the destination to see the sights along the way.
They don't teach that in academia... and it's sort of a shame.