Many kids fantasize about their future adult lives. At some point in middle age, you’re just compelled to reflect and compare what you wanted or expected with what you created.
When I was a kid I had two very different ideas about what my grown up life would be. One involved being married to a fabulously handsome successful man, having lots of kids, and being a stay at home mom: Volvo station wagon, church bake sales, golden retriever, PTA meetings, the whole shebang. The other involved working with refugees and orphans in developing countries. I don’t recall that scenerio involving either a man or kids of my own.
When I reflect on these two divergent fantasies, I can’t help but think 1) wow, I was a schizophrenic kid and 2) how bizarre that I’ve actually done a fairly good job of melding the two, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
The Volvo has been replaced with a Ford Focus station wagon (I guess nine year-old Alison didn’t figure on frugality playing so much of a role in my future life). I converted to Judaism as a young adult and, like all good Jews of a certain age, I’ve recently begun exploring Buddhism. The golden retriever is a golden retriever/chow mix. The kids are just one kid and she’s adopted from Ethiopia. She’s still little so no PTA meetings yet but I figure periodically teaching her Buddhist meditation for kids class counts for something. My master’s degree is in international health and development and while I have yet to do any actual work in the field, I’m trained for it, have worked from home with programs in developing countries, and have a sneaking feeling a big leap into the field might be right around the corner. The handsome/successful man, well, he never materialized and when I do imagine a partner now, she’s a girl.
On the day I was born in rural South Louisiana nearly forty-three years ago, my parents could not have fathomed that I would one day be a Buddhist/Jewish lesbian single mother of an African child. It just wouldn’t have occurred to them but apparently it occurred to me. But why? What was/is different about me?
I have no idea but I do think I was different from the start. I never felt comfortable in that world. I do feel comfortable in the one I’ve created. It’s not perfect but it’s perfectly me.
It’s early yet, but I wonder what my daughter will fantasize about her adult life. I imagine her as a fabulously successful dancer or artist, globetrotting for performances or openings but I won’t bat an eye if one day I visit her in a suburb, Volvo hovercraft parked in the garage.