When I Grow Up

“What do you want to do with your life?”

It’s a loaded question high school students face regularly.

Myself, I didn’t have an answer in high school. Four years of college, a summer stint through Europe and a decade in Sales couldn’t answer the question. It wasn’t until I got married, had two babies, and decided to stay home to focus on them that my love of writing surfaced.

The rear of the school bus was still in view when I decided to put pen to paper. I wrote some articles. I wrote a manuscript. Then another. And another. At thirty-seven, I discovered I had a passion for something. I was finally able to answer that elusive question: What do you want to do with your life?

The feeling was (and still is) euphoric.

Though I can’t quite pay the mortgage – or fill my gas tank- I feel fulfilled. I’m happy. My regret? Not starting sooner.

I think the question that needs to be asked is: What do you love to do?

If someone would have posed that question to me, perhaps I would have reached this conclusion earlier and avoided years of career-based turmoil.

My son is a high school sophomore faced with the question of his future plans. His answer? Depends on the day: “Restaurant owner.” “Business Manager.” “Sales.” “Um, I don’t really know.”

He is less than enthusiastic about his classes, getting through them with minimal effort. I’ve become that nagging mom, reminding him daily:Pick up your grades or you won’t get into a good college.” He politely stares at me, waiting for my mouth to stop moving so he can resume his focus on his IPhone.

He loves hockey. He plays on the school team. And he loves music. He’s in the school marching band and jazz band. Do you know what he does with that phone? He watches marching bands from all over the country perform.

At dinner last night, he put down his fork and with a wide smile said, I have band tomorrow.” My husband’s gaze met mine over the chicken. I shrugged. Okay, so it would be nice if his eyes shined when he talked about his math or science class, but we have little control. You can’t make someone love something. It’s a part of who they are.

For his upcoming sixteenth birthday, he asked for a tuba. That’s right. You heard me. Tuba.

Like every parent, I want my children to earn a good living so they can have choices and be able to give their own children choices. But more than that, I want them to be happy. Earning a good living and being happy can be mutually exclusive.

Maybe I needed to travel and work at jobs I detested before I was ready to express myself through writing. Who knows? If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have met my uber-supportive husband, so I can’t help but be thankful for my past.

Life is short. Why not be truly satisfied with how we spend our time? Most of us spend a majority of our waking hours at work, don’t we?

I told my son Do what you love to do and you’ll have a happy life.” 

Is that realistic? Perhaps not…but a mother can dream.

Let’s ask the right questions, such as: What kind of future is out there for a hockey-playing, tuba-touting young man?


What do you love to do?