What do you want to be when you grow up? This not an uncommon question asked to kids and teenagers, but when my husband asked me in my 30’s it seemed a little out of place. I laughed, thinking he was just joking. What was he talking about I already went to college, and I was a grown up. The more I thought about it I realized that is was a good question.
Let me give you a little background leading up to our conversation. I had the perfect set up, I had been working part time from home for 13years while we raised our 5 children. About quarter time engineering and the rest being a mom. The building market slowed and the company I worked for no longer had enough projects to keep me busy. Though I worked minimal hours I couldn’t believe how much this change impacted me. I had worked for the same company since I graduated, if went elsewhere I would likely have to spend many hours working to prove I was a worthwhile employee. With one child still at home and 4 busy school age kids, there were things I wasn’t willing to give up. I still wanted to be the person asked to read a mid afternoon story or the one to hear how their day went as they stepped off the bus. So where did that leave me? Engineering was something that had been in my life since high school. I felt like giving it up would be giving up part of me.
When I was a college student I had such great focus on my career, I had it all planned out. As we all know so well, life changes. Now my family was my focus. Losing my job as an engineer was a blessing and an opportunity. Though I enjoyed working, right now that career was not my passion; I think I knew this even before I lost my job. Just because I wasn’t designing buildings anymore didn’t make me any less me. Shifting my focus didn’t mean I was giving up that career forever, it just meant it didn’t fit in my life right now, and that was OK. I had so much work to do at home and I don’t mean housework (though I have a lot of that too). I realized that I wasn’t giving my best at the most important and rewarding career I will ever have, being a mother. Before I could start any new “job” outside the home I needed to focus on being the best at the one I already had. After all as a little girl I dreamt of being a mother long before I even knew what an engineer was.So as I try to focus myself to one career, I realize that it’s not always about what we want to be when we grow up. Sometimes it’s just about, defining who you are in this moment in your life. Just like the 4 year old girl who once wanted to be a princess or the little boy wanting to be ninja turtle. We too as adults will continually reshape our focus and adjust our plans. So don’t be afraid every now and then, no matter how old you are, to ask yourself that question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”