Every so often I like to do this fun thing where I berate myself for not having a real life. What I mean is that the life I have is fine, but is this it? Really? Other people seem to be...achieving things. I, on the other hand, am pleased when I manage to get the floor swept. Yes, I'm homeschooling three boys, but there are plenty of people who do that - and more - and still manage to...achieve things. Make money. Be well dressed. Say witty things that leave everyone in earshot laughing. Me? I'm hoping for a swept floor.
Lately I've been trying to imagine what I would do if I weren't swamped with the homeschooling and the floor sweeping and all. It's not that I'm PLANNING to chuck it all, fling the children at the nearest public school, and scurry off after my own interests, it's just that I'm musing about what exactly I would do if I did.
"...what I would do if I did." Yes. Clearly I should be a WRITER. Sheesh.
In my life Before Children I was pursuing a teaching degree, by the most roundabout manner possible. My college transcripts should be published as an example of how to attend school for a staggering number of years and still not achieve an actual degree. Hint: change schools. And majors. And minors. Often.
Anyhow, I can't really see myself going back to teaching, because that's what I do NOW. And I know how frustrating classroom teaching can be, and all the headaches that go along with it. Nah, if I am going to teach, I'll teach right here, where I know I have 100% parental involvement and I can't get in trouble for telling a student, "You are being totally obnoxious. Cut it out."
The most money I ever made was as a cocktail waitress, a job I actually sort of liked. I wore a cheerleader's uniform and danced on a box. Wow, that sounds really sleazy, doesn't it? Heh. It was fun. And the money was insane. I just don't see myself doing that now. The music was loud. All the smoke and the drunk people would make me crazy. Hmm, listening to myself, I also suspect my cane would impede my progress through the crowds, and no one would be able to hear me warble, "SIT DOWN, YOU WHIPPERSNAPPERS!"
So what, then?
Conventional wisdom says you should pay attention to what you LIKE to do, what gives you joy, what works with your talents and temperament. I like to sleep in. And eat chocolate. That is not a paying position.
Saturday I was out, running one bazillion errands (seriously. I could show you the list), and thinking through the puzzle of the career I don't have. As I stood in line at a store, a woman got in line behind me, with her two sons. The oldest looked about Tre's age, and the youngest about Raphael's age. I watched them for awhile, taken by their individual charms. The older boy was so dignified and aloof, rolling his eyes at his mom when she put her hand on his shoulder. He was surreptitiously eyeing the women on the magazine covers with a look of awe that was rather sweet, the wee perv. The little one was a bombastic little ray of sunshine, talking a mile a minute and climbing on and off the shopping cart. After a while I struck up a conversation with the mom, and sure enough, the boys were my boys' ages. We talked about our kids for a while, then I payed for my things and left.
As I walked out to my car, a little more spring in my step than before, it hit me. THIS is what I gravitate to, what catches my attention when I'm out on my own. Kids, in their many goofy forms, are what make my eyes light up. I forget, in the daily grind, how fascinating I think children are.
If I did find another job to do, I'm sure I could find satisfaction in it. I know I'd just LOVE to have a paycheck and a title and oooh, a DESK. That would be VERY COOL. But I also know that spending my days away from the kids who are the very most precious to me would be like spending my days locked up out of the sun.
It seems, after all, that THIS is what I'm going to be when I grow up.