What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

When I was a teen, there was one question I used to dread being asked.

Well two really, but only one question is germane to this post. Besides, after years of being asked if I have a boyfriend I can finally tell them no, but only because my husband tends to frown on the idea of sharing me with others. It's too bad no one seems to want to ask me that question anymore.


When I wasn't fretting over the fact I was invisible to most boys and dateless for more Friday nights than I care to count, I was obsessing over how to answer the dreaded "So, what do you want to be when you grow up?"

I didn't have a clue. I finally just started telling the well-meaning adults who asked that question of me that I had high hopes of becoming human when I was all done growing up. It generally shut them up. Until at least, the next time we crossed paths.

To be honest, I'm officially a grown up, closing in on middle age and I still haven't the faintest idea of what I want to be now that I am an adult. I've been everything from a retail slave, movie theatre manager, nurse, chauffeur, line cook, student, journalist, dog walker, paper deliverer, serial volunteer and less than dedicated wife and I still don't have it figured out.

Ask me what I don't want to be and I can give you a straight answer: I have no desire to be a rodeo clown, paramedic or the person working the kill switch in a slaughter house. I would also shun being a stripper, a street performer or any profession requiring me to wear spandex lycra for a living.

I'm closing in on 36 and I still don't know what I want to be when I'm a grown up other than happy. And I'm pretty darn happy. Broke yes, but terribly, awfully, incredibly happy.

As a mother I want my children to be happy. Successful would be nice too, but I'll settle for happy, healthy and hard working. I don't want to pressure them into feeling like they have to decide NOW what they want to do later.

I've tried to be cognizant of the fact that my children, while getting older, are still kids. They have time to figure their lives out. I don't want them to rule anything out at this point in their young lives and heck, if they decide they want to be zombie killers, as long as they aren't doing it from their bedrooms in my house when they are 40, I'm okay with that too.

However, life is nothing if not one big circle and it seems I'm back where I started, only slightly doughier, lined and more jaded.

Now that Fric and Frac have entered their last years of schooling, it's time for a new chorus of "What do you want to be when you grow up?" While I anticipated this for them, what I never anticipated was other grownups asking me, 'what do they want to be?' Like I'm supposed to know my children or something.

I have to tell you, the first time that question was asked earnestly of me; I floundered the same way I floundered as a teen. Fric is easy, she's been single-mindedly focused on the same goal since she was four and while I expect her to one day reach that goal, I won't be surprised if she suddenly changes directions and pursues something else.

She's 15. She's supposed to be able to change her mind at this stage of the game. Frac, however, is much like I was at that age and each week he has a different interest. Nothing has captivated his imagination and his future is as much as a blank slate as his father's and mine was. I'm not worried about this lack of focus when it comes to his future at all though since he's a bright kid. He'll figure it out just like everyone else does.

But when I explain this to other well-meaning parents who have their children's lives charted out they look at me like I'm guilty of beating my kids and have suddenly grown three horns out of my forehead.

I seemed to have missed the memo somewhere along the parental lines stating I must install a definitive future for each of my children in order for them to succeed.

Just another badge to add to my collection of parental failures.

The comical reaction I've gotten from shrugging my shoulders and insisting my kids have time to figure it out has only inspired me to think of clearly insane answers to give whenever I'm now asked about my kids plans for the future.

"Well, we really hope little Fric aims higher than writing internet porn like her mother. We're training her to be the next Snooki. I hear there is good money in that and it would be neat to have a famous daughter. As for Frac, well, we think he'd make a really talented hustler. As long as he gets to wear a shiny fedora we'll be pleased."

If I'm met with blank stares I'll just follow up with, "If all else fails, we have high hopes that when they grow up they'll finally become humans."

Hopefully this will satisfy the curious masses. Or at least give me enough blog fodder until my children are old enough to figure out their futures for themselves. Just like they are supposed to.