I wish I had been the type to keep a journal, and had written down through the years what I thought I would be when I grew up, or as I entered university, and then the work place. I think looking at what I thought I would be, and what I thought would be important to me compared to what I actually become and what is actually is important to me would be quite comical.
I have no memory as a child of wanting to get married and have kids, or of EVER considering being a stay at home Mom might be a choice I would make. Even after having kids, I never really grasped that the babies would grew up and I would be middle aged. SHOCKER! The idea that my parents and in-laws would age was very vague, until one day I looked and realise they are seniors and they have slowed down. They are not invincible and will not live forever. I have no idea how I ended up in retail banking, it was never on my list of career choices. I never considered that hard work couldn't always fix everything.
I do have memories of always fighting for the underdog, and a clear sense of right and wrong. I remember loving my English, History, and Politics classes in High School, and not surprisingly I have a Political Science Degree with a minor in Women's Studies. I have always loved animals and remember always wanting a horse. I thought I would work in policy dealing with women's issues, and considered law school to use that degree to support women. I thought climbing the corporate ladder was the goal. I always felt although a relationship is great, I did not need a man. I remember definitely NOT wanting to live in the suburbs. I wanted to live in the heart of a city or in the country and finally get that horse.
What ended up happening....
In University I met a guy. We did not start dating for several years after we met. For many reasons we are a good fit. To the outside world we may seem like an unlikely pair, and complete opposites. If you look closer we are similar in the core values, but our way of expressing them differs. Our parenting style is very different but the goal is the same. The way in which we work is very different but we both have a very good work ethic. He is a Math and Science guy; my strengths are in the softer skills, and creative process. As it turns out I do need a man. I need this man, my partner. We are a team. So we got married.
Then we buy a house in the suburbs. (In fairness we looked at least 20 houses in the country) so I would have a yard for the dog I wanted. Hubby is not a dog person; he had not grown up with dogs. On the first visit to the breeder a huge Golden Retriever jumps up into his lap like one of those toy sized dogs, tucks Hubby's arm into his mouth like a soother, and stays that way for the next 20 minutes. Hubby's facial expression was priceless. Six months later we brought our new puppy home (We used a very scientific method to choosing our pup; we picked the one that just kept coming back to us).
Next we have a child. WHAT! Can't believe I’m a mother! We arrange daycare as I prepare to go back to work, when Hubby quietly suggests I stay home. He is wondering who our child will tell about the frog he saw if I am not there to listen. I say yes since I am pregnant with our second WHAT! AGAIN! Clearly lost my mind! The feminist in me realises this is an opportunity to teach my sons to be kind and decent, and to respect women.
I volunteer at the playgroup, was the registrar at the Nursery School, volunteer 25+ hours a week at my kids' school(s), was a Beaver Leader, and the list goes on. Each of these roles allowed me to impact kids in a positive way, and more often than not support other women. It was at playgroup a group of us started a campaign to the ban cosmetic use of pesticides. It dawns on me that maybe I did exactly what I thought I would do just in a different way. I tried to teach future generations to be tolerant, and girls to feel empowered. I supported women, and was active in my community. I sat on committees that changed policy and law. I stayed a strong independent woman in my role as partner and stay at home Mom in a house of males.
I have teens now. I am middle aged. My parents are slowing down and getting older, I can see it clearly now. Corporate life isn't going to happen, at least not in the way I envisioned. Planning for retirement is the goal. That's okay; I have no regrets, or feelings that I missed something by taking a route that was different than what I planned. I am happy that we were open to alternative options and paths in our lives. We have been married 21 years; our kids will finish high school soon and go off with their own ideas of what and who they will be. Lately I have been focusing on those things I can do or change in my life to make it the best it can be. I look forward to the next phases of our lives, understanding that it may not be exactly what we planned or expected.
Yep, Just Cathy Thinking Out Loud again.