Just now (literally, about 1.5 minutes ago), I heard this exchange between my children, who are sitting in the living room watching How to Train Your Dragon (I’m sitting a room away, working at the dining room table… eavesdropping on them, naturally).
Damon: Hey, Avery? What do you wanna be when you grow up?
Avery: What do you mean?
Damon: You know… like, what do you want to do for a JOB??
Avery: ummmmm… I wanna be like those people that take care of pets.
Damon: Like Aunt Kathy? [Aunt Kathy is Nick’s aunt, who runs a kennel… that’s where we always take our dogs when we go out of town.]
Avery: Yeah… ummm, no. Like a doctor for pets.
Damon: Oh, a vet?
And that was the extent of that conversation. Then they were on to the next thing.
First of all, it always amuses me when I hear these “serious” discussions between the two of them. I have no idea what made Damon think of this question… I guess something in the movie brought it up?
And then, I was struck by Avery’s answer because that’s exactly how I answered that question for much of my childhood. I wanted to be a vet… until I was in about 7th grade and realized I’d have to do “icky” things to the animals… like operate on them and give them shots and stuff. Then I decided what I really wanted to do was save the animals… so I changed my answer from “veterinarian” to “zoologist.” With images of National Geographic running through my head. (As if. Can you see me in the wild, capturing and tagging wild animals??? ahahahaha!)
Fast forward, ohhhhh, 20-some years… and what am I doing with my life? I’m sitting here tonight, copyediting a book about veterinary… stuff. That’s totally a coincidence because I don’t usually edit veterinary books. I abandoned my dream of doing anything scientific or animal-related when I nearly failed Bio for Majors my freshman year of college. Science? Yeah, no… not my thing as it turns out!
Instead I became a word geek. Lover of literature. An editor because there wasn’t much else to BE with an English degree. A technical editor… God only knows why. I hate science. I’m horrible at science… already proven that! Now I’m a crazy comma momma. Maybe as far from a veterinarian or zoologist as you can possibly get (except that I just happen to be editing a veterinary book tonight). I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. Some days I fear that I’m ALREADY grown up, and I’m always just going to be… this.
Hearing the exchange between my kids tonight made me wonder… I wonder if every little girl, when she’s seven, dreams of being a veterinarian? Or is this just one more way in which Avery is my mini-me? I also wonder what Avery will be 20+ years from now. And, like any mother, I hope that… whatever she is… she’ll be happy and love who and what she is.
Those days when I fear that “this” is all I’ll ever be? I find comfort in the fact that one thing I’ll always be is the mother of two amazing people. And if that’s all? If I’m not a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher or an astronaut or a veterinarian? That’s okay. Some days, when I hate my job and I feel sorry for myself for being “this”… on those days, I have to remind myself that being Damon and Avery’s mother really IS the most difficult and most rewarding job I’ll ever have (corny but true!).
And maybe one of them will do something fabulous one day… like discover a new life form or find the cure for cancer or save the animals. Or maybe they’ll “just” be great parents who love their kids as much as I love them. That would be okay, too.