Coming of Age

When I grow up, I want to be…. (yes, I know I am pushing 60 here, but indulge me for a bit!), a marine archaeologist. Or a famous author. Or a rock star (I think we all know that was never in the cards). Or a wealthy philanthropist. Or just plain insanely rich. I want to own a home in Ireland. I want to see Knossos on Crete. I want to be a clever artist like Mary Engelbreit, and have my name and my art syndicated. I want to be Susan Sarandon. I want to discover lost tribes and fabled treasures. I want to be the world’s leading, pre-eminent authority on something. I wish I could play an instrument like the harp, or the harpsichord or the dulcimer sweetly enough to bring tears to your eyes. I want to swim with dolphins, study linguistics, make croquembouche, and have a collection of vintage clothing that is astounding in its’ scope and beauty. I wish I knew how to cut bias dresses like Vionnet, and wear clothes like Bianca Jagger. I’d like to live in Grasse, and have the nose to become a master perfumer. I’d like a brace of wolfhounds to roam my extensive county estate with me.

Man, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Contemplating this, I see a common thread is fame, wealth, and glory. That is probably from reading all those fairy tales as a kid. And Judith Krantz in my formative, young adult period.

I think I was about 30 when I realized I was too old to be a precocious genius in any field. I will admit it was a blow. I was not living up to my potential. However, by that time, I was living a real life, and not just waiting for something BIG to happen to me, to bring me fame and an opportunity to shine. I had pretty much realized no fairy godmother was gonna zap me with a wand and override all the decisions I’d made that brought me to that point in time.

Becoming a mother changed everything. I was responsible for creating, sheltering and guiding this incredibly precious child. I had no idea you could love someone that much, or so fiercely. When they say you would die for your child, they are not kidding. The Baby became the most important thing in my life. I didn’t exactly put my own life on hold, but almost all decisions I made at that time, revolved around how they would affect the Baby and her quality of life. It was then that I started wearing a seatbelt, quit smoking, and learned to make better choices in what I cooked.

Anyway, there is a period of years when I trundled along, not exactly living an unexamined life, but focusing on things closer to the domestic front. I was lucky that both Mr. GG and I had work that we felt passionately about, though we knew we were never gonna be rich (note: Archaeology and Museum work will not make you any money. However the job satisfaction factor is off the charts).

So a lot of other stuff got put on the back burner. I learned to appreciate what I had. I learned to fight for what was really important, and it was amazing how much stuff was no longer important, when weighed against the health and wellbeing of our family. I got my priorities straightened out. And it made me happy. Mind you, I don’t think being happy is the end point of living – I think that being happy is a by-product, an emotion produced when you do things that are meaningful or important to you. Whatever that may be.

After the Baby left the nest, I had more time to devote to exploring other interests. And I am not saying that raising her put me on hold, just that I found other things were more important than moving to California to study marine biology. But now I am comfortably middle class and middle aged. I have the time and health to make a moon garden, perfect my croquembouche, fool around with writing, volunteer more often, research anything that piques my fancy, and do things that enrich me on a personal level. I still want to do all those things I mentioned above, and a whole lot of other stuff that I didn’t bring up. And I probably will do some of them. Or as close as circumstance and my desire let me get to doing them. I am still sifting through to see what strikes a chord, and excites and intrigues me. But in the mean time, I have also learned the beauty of living in the moment. Of being grateful for what I have, where I am, and who I am. There is always more to feel, more to know, more to see, more to be. So when I grow up, I want to be exactly what I am now. A work in progress.

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