This week we’ve been challenged to share our childhood dreams. I suppose I had the usual childhood fantasies about meeting Prince Charming and riding on a white horse up the mountain to a gleaming castle. I would never again be expected to make my own bed, clean up after myself, or watch out for little brothers. I would have leisure time to do whatever I chose, and ladies-in-waiting ready and eager to assist me. It was a rude awakening to find out there weren’t enough princes to go around.
When I was in grade school I wanted to be an actress. I remember watching the Patty Duke Show and thinking how wonderful it would be to always look perfect and have perfect clothes and have cameras following you everywhere. Part of the appeal of the show, of course, was that the main character and I had the same first name. I’d write scripts for myself and act them out in front of the mirror. I practiced signing my autograph and drove my younger brothers nuts when I spent way too much time in the bathroom getting myself ready for school.
Later on I joined the band. I started playing clarinet in fourth grade, and then just before seventh grade I switched to oboe. I spent hours practicing, and for a while I thought I’d make a career out of that. The summer between my junior and senior year I played in a group called the American Youth Symphony and went to Europe. I loved traveling and seeing new things, and after this experience I knew that musicians traveled all over the world and thought it would be fabulous to get paid for it! So I practiced even harder, and I won a full scholarship to a college only six hours away. It wasn’t one of the top elite conservatories, but the price tag was very appealing to my parents.
Then in college I discovered all sorts of fun things to do other than practice. I spent a semester or so wasting time before it dawned on me that my parents expected me to graduate with some sort of marketable skill. As much as I enjoyed college, I didn’t want to stay there forever. So I had to make some decisions. What did I enjoy doing, other than performing? I loved working with kids. And I realized that growing up, the people I’d admired most and wanted to emulate had been my teachers. So I got a teaching degree and spent twenty-eight years teaching elementary school.
Being a wife and mom was never really on my to-do list, although I can honestly say that they are the best so-called jobs I’ve ever held. My kids are undoubtedly the best part of me, and a legacy I can be proud of. Now that my time is more flexible I’m so happy to spend time with my grandkids. After all, I’ve had a little practice now. I don’t stress out about whether or not an extra cookie or another half hour of cartoons will ruin the child’s life. I get to just hug them, spoil them, and enjoy them.
So now I want to be an author. I want to create stories that people will read and remember. I want to make people laugh, cry, and think. I want to provide an escape for the harried mom, hope for a discouraged teen, and clean entertainment for anyone who happens to pick up one of my books.
I guess some of us never stop reaching for dreams.
What are some careers you’ve considered?