I guess little children are supposed to dream of what they want to be when they grow up. For me it was not so much when I grew up, but rather “if” I grew up. Some people would doubt whether I really ever have; I kind of like it that way. I do not remember too much about those childhood dreams. Oh, there was the time I got an Oakland Raiders’ helmet for Christmas when I had a dream of becoming a professional quarterback. That was in the Raiders’ glory days when Kenny Stabler headed their offense. The last time I saw my third grade teacher, which was really not that long ago, she told me that she still remembers me bringing a football in for show and tell when all the other girls were bringing in their little girly things. That dream, of course, would not come to fruition; a five foot eight inch tall female cannot become a professional quarterback no matter how hard she tries.
I once thought about becoming President of the United States after my 5th grade math teacher wrote on my report card that he would not be surprised if I became such. Obviously, that is not to be either, although I guess technically it is still possible since we have not yet had a woman president. Now that Hillary’s dream seems to have been dashed into pieces, I think Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are doing their best to beat me at that attempt. I am more than willing to let someone other than myself have that designation, although I am not so certain that I would want it to be either of them.
One dream that might have been a little more practical is that of working for NASA. Perhaps in today’s world I would have thought that such a dream was a little more realistic, but back then it was just more of a fantasy–one that I did not really think I had the potential to attain. I only knew of two things that I for sure really wanted to be–a wife and a mother. I do not know for sure how most girls feel today, but back when I was growing up, I think it was something most wanted. I was one of the lucky ones; not only did I get the opportunity to get married, I have been blessed with a wonderful husband. I also have had the opportunity of becoming a mother to four wonderful children, two daughters and two sons. I have spent the last 26 years of my life being a stay-at-home mom, although eight years ago I did return to school at first taking only one class per semester.
When I was in my youth, that is as far as I had my life planned. Becoming a mother and raising children did not seem like a short term deal; it seemed more as if it would be my life. What I did not realize at the time, was that although I would be a mother for the rest of my life, I would not be raising children for that entire time. Even if somebody would have told me 28 years ago when I first got married that my last child would leave home when I was 48, I would have thought they were speaking of an eternity; little did I know how quickly 28 years would pass. Now, in five weeks I will finally graduate from college and one month later my youngest child will graduate from high school. It is only a matter of four more months before all of my children will be gone and I will be left wondering, “Now what?”
There is a quote I like from the television series “The Wonder Years” which aired in the late ’80’s to early ’90’s. I think it explains a great deal of how it feels for parents to see their children grow up and move on, so I wanted to include it here.
“And so we finally got our new car. It wasn’t red, it wasn’t a convertible, heck, it wasn’t even a Mustang. But it was brand new. And it was pretty cool. ‘Course, Dad got his shot at king-for-a-day… and we were happy for him. But that afternoon, I began to understand what Dad had been going through. There was more to that old car than fuel pumps and crankshafts. There was a part of all of us in that car. The places we’d gone, the things …we’d done… the family we had been. The family that was moving on. And for the first time, I understood the value of what my Dad had put into it. And why it was so hard to let it go.” –Kevin Arnold (The Wonder Years)
Truly we love what we put our most into. For me, it was my family and I am glad I did so. I now understand why elderly people often have a hard time leaving their homes. It is not the home itself, it is all of the beautiful and even sometimes difficult memories. It is where nostalgia reigns, not in the walls or furniture, but in the very heart and soul of each individual who passed through its doors.
I know I am not the first to go through this transition, nor will I be the last, but obviously for me it is a first. Although many others have dealt with such a transition, no one in the world is exactly like me so my transition will be unique. Therefore, no matter what the answer is for the rest of those who have or will find themselves in similar circumstances, I have to find my own answer. Although I should have seen the obvious, I never knew that there was life after children; I never knew that what to do now would be such a difficult question to answer, both emotionally and logistically; I never knew it would leave me feeling so empty!
I know there is much more life to live, at least I hope, and I know that I have several options on my table. I have thought about teaching high school math, but to tell you the truth, I just do not know that I want to go back to high school. I could continue my education going on to get a masters and perhaps a PhD, but most people already think I am a little off my rocker for studying math and physics with no real goal in mind. I know that when it comes right down to it, though, I will not base my decision on what others think, unless of course, one of those “others” end up being my husband who has been my greatest advocate and adviser and who has sacrificed the most during my educational journey. I have also thought about doing volunteer work, but I do not know what type of volunteer work would give me fulfillment and satisfaction. One thing I know I cannot do, is just stay home. If I do, I know I will literally go crazy. I find this interesting because my favorite place to be has always been home. There was a day when I would have given anything to have some peace and quiet, now the silence screams at me.
What bothers me the most, though, is that I have lost my passion for life. I do not know what direction I want to go, yet I know I cannot just stand still. I have always had a need to tackle challenging problems; a need to feel as if I am not intellectually stagnant. At the same time, though, I feel a deep need to give something back to the world from which I have taken so much. I did not mean to be a taker, it is just that I have been so greatly blessed and why, I do not know. I have not deserved these blessings anymore than the rest of the world. At times, the depth of my blessings truly puzzles me. They have truly been beyond my wildest dreams. That is why I do not feel right about dreaming for anything more, yet dreams make life worthwhile. I know what I really want to do is to dream again; to have something for which to look forward. I guess you could say that my dream is to dream. I think I am at a point that many call a mid-life crisis. Perhaps that means I am sitting atop of a rainbow and as I gaze down on the other side, I have an inner hope that somewhere over the rainbow dreams still really do come true. Maybe it is time for me to help in making the dreams of others come true. But how?
Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4 [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]