These were the pleasantest days of Sam’s life, these days in the woods, far, far from everywhere—no automobiles, no problems, except the problem of getting lost. And, of course, the problem of what to be when he grew up. Every boy has that problem. (from The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White)
Whenever I feel alone in my particular problems, it’s nice to remember that everyone has them. If E.B. White says it is so then it must be so. I must not be the only one who has ever had the crisis of deciding what to be. I have this book of school age memories that my mom filled in for me. It has my (awful) school picture from each year Kindergarten through grade five, the names of my teachers and classmates, lists of awards (attendance, straight A’s, Field Day Participant), and my ever-changing ambitions. In Kindergarten I wanted to be a Princess or a Teacher. In First Grade I wanted to be a teacher and a writer. In Second Grade I wanted to be a mommy or a writer. In Fifth Grade I wanted to be a scientist or a judge. The last one is funny to me. I could be a princess long before I could be a scientist and I have occasionally appointed myself as a judge but it’s a practice I’m trying to quit. If my memory serves, I think I chose the science profession because it was my Fifth Grade teacher’s favorite subject and I liked her. And I believe I chose to become a judge because my friend Justin wanted to be a lawyer and I reasoned that a judge was better than that. It’s not in the school memories book but I recall that in middle school I secretly wanted to be a country music singer and in high school I wanted to be a writer, a teacher, a missionary, a church children’s minister, and a stay-at-home mom all at different periods.
And sometimes, when I’m driving, I glance at myself in the rearview mirror and wonder at who I am. At what point did the ethereal “when I grow up” disappear? Which birthday made me a grown up? When exactly did I become who and what I am?
Sometimes I think all of that random ambition was wasted on me, like I’m some kind of a failure as a first-born child. I should be doing more, I think. But when I try to pinpoint my failure, I can’t. I have worked at a church as a girls ministry director, served in (very) short-term missions, taught reading and math (I still can’t believe they let me teach math!) to Kindergarten- First- and Second-graders, and I’ve even dabbled in writing (thank YOU for reading!). Most importantly, I’ve become a wife and mother! Those two spectacular events are so much more than enough that I could just slap myself silly for doubting my own worth.
My checklist isn’t exactly complete. My random ambitions are ever evolving and I am still young. I am not finished but I am complete.