Sunday, January 11, 2009

When I Grow Up

My old boss (at a job with a one-year term for which I had not yet found a successor job) used to say that I should let him know when I had decided "what I want to do when I grow up." I found a next job - and then another, and I'm planning to stick with this one for a while - but his larger point was correct.

I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up. In my interview for the job I now have, I was asked, "Where do you see yourself in ten years?" It's not a bad question. I studiously did not explain about the rambling Victorian farmhouse on the outskirts of a quaint village, with a dozen children and a roaring fire and a couple of golden retrievers. Consequently, I had no coherent answer at all. Blessedly, they seemed not to notice how badly I was stumped, and the conversation meandered smoothly along.

But I was inspired by shinejil's post on seizing her dreams and accomplishing some of her life's goals to think more about what I dream for myself if I never have children, or maybe regardless of whether I have children. Because I think part of the destructiveness of the IF is spending so many good years just waiting for something we can't control. Another part is mortgaging so much of our identity to the idea of motherhood. Motherhood is beautiful and wonderful and necessary - not, I hope, to our survival; but intrinsic to womanhood, I think. But it's not the entire story, or every woman's story would be one sentence long and they would all be the same story. They aren't. The IF struggle and misery deserve a chapter, maybe a long one (whether or not the next chapter is "Pregnancy"); but they don't deserve the whole book.

What else am I? And why do I feel in such danger of losing my grip on it?

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