My Teen shocked me the other day. Her stated goal for herself since she was a young girl is to be a foreign missionary. Now, I know well that this might change, and that's fine with me, but in the church world, foreign missions is a lofty goal.
For the past year and a half she's attended a charter school targeted for those interested in the health sciences. She feels that having a medical background will open more missions doors for her. Plus, there is always the possibility that she will not be a missionary, and the medical field seems to be fairly wide open right now.
But these are not her highest aspirations for herself. She shared with me, one late night when everyone else were in bed, what that other, loftier, goal is. She'd love to be a stay at home mom who home schools her children. She spoke with awe in her voice at the grand design of raising children to be their best, before the Lord and in the world. She realizes, though, that this is a gift and that she might not be given it, so of course she will prepare for life in the working, serving world.
I was stupefied. Truly. She wants my life. And I, to be honest, don't.
I gave up a job I found very satisfying in order to follow my husband toward his dream vocation. When I left that job, I knew, like anyone knows anything, that I would not last more than two months as a SAHM. And here I am, 14 years later, still a SAHM, still reluctant. And this life I defaulted to because there was nothing better available is now my daughter's dream job. I laughed in pain at the irony.
I wonder how much better at it I would be if I loved this thing that I do - if I saw it as the perfect achievement of a lifetime of desire, as a gift. Would I be able to really cook? Would my home remain clean for more than ten minutes at a time? Would my children rise up and call me blessed, instead of grumbling when I remind them that there is another English paper due?
This is not something that I can work up, however. The desire for it is, I think, a gift, as much as the bestowing of the lifestyle is. I'm like most people who are stuck in a job that isn't ideal for them, that makes them feel inadequate daily, but is how they get by. I think, though, that knowing there is a level-headed kid out there who would love to be in my shoes just might make carrying this load a little easier.
Today I chatted with Tween. Since I was curious, we discussed his dream job. He has two he can't choose between - the pastorate (DH's field) or a train engineer. I asked him how he planned to go about fulfilling his dreams. These are his plans:
If he decides to become a pastor, he will go to college and work toward a higher-level degree. Meanwhile he will volunteer his services at a church that really needs him so he can get some hands-on experience.
If he decides to be a train engineer, he will go somewhere with an Amtrak station and a sightseeing old-time steam engine line. He'll go to college just in case there aren't any train jobs available, but if they're hiring, even just for a janitor, then that is where he plans to begin.
When Teen and Tween were little, I used to worry that they'd buy too heavily into the "you can do anything that you want to" mentality. I was concerned that Teen might want to be a ballerina and Tween an astronaut, and that I'd have to burst their bubbles and help them set more mundane goals. Looks to me like that concern was misplaced!
Aim low, kids!