If I were to ask Luki three times in the same day what he wants to be when he grows up, it's likely that I'll get three different answers — Fireman! Drummer! Train conductor! But though his answers may vary, there's one thing about these conversations that remains constant. When he finishes telling me about his future plans he always asks me, "How about you, mama. What do you want to be when you grow up?"
I turned 29 last week. As I celebrated reaching the home stretch of my twenties, I couldn't help but feel like I am closing out the most significant decade of my life. Over the past ten years, I've graduated from college, gotten a job, bought a couple of houses, married my true love, and — most importantly — given birth to two beautiful boys. I can't imagine any future events that could possibly come close to giving my life the meaning and purpose motherhood has. Growing babies and pushing them out will forever be my greatest accomplishments.
Still, when Luki asks me what I want to be when I grow up, "a mom" just doesn't feel like it’s the right answer. The truth is that I’m always caught off guard by the question... What do I want to be?
Sometimes I try to avoid him by saying, “Oh, I’m already grown up,” but Luki doesn’t fall for it. “So? What do you want to be?” he insists.
The funny thing is, although twenty-nine, I don’t feel (or act) like a grownup most of the time.
I often get told that I look younger, and it’s probably because I don’t know how to apply make up or walk in heels. Or because I still throw tantrums at my husband when I can’t get my way about which restaurant to have lunch at. Or because there’s a pile of receipts that has been sitting on my desk for weeks waiting to be faxed to my insurance company, and I just can’t seem to be responsible enough to accomplish the simple task.
But I think the biggest reason why I don’t quite feel grownup is because, much like Luki, I still have big dreams. Dreams of traveling the world and learning to dance. Of running marathons and getting tattoos. Of making a difference and writing a book.
Yet, unlike Luki, whose dreams know no limits or boundaries, who really and truly believes he will drive a fire truck one day, my dreams for the future are constrained by reality and resources. How will I pay for my travels around the globe? What will my mother think about me getting a tattoo? Who'd want to read a book written by me? You know, the kind of boring things only real life, bona fide, 29-year-old, adult human persons think about.
It's the kind of attitude that, if unchecked, will always make the previous decade better than the next.
I may be rounding out the most significant decade of my life, but there's still plenty of fun to be had, good to be done, and dreams to be realized. And I think I've figured out how to do just that.
Next time my son asks me what I want to be when I grow up, I plan to bend down, look him in the eye, and tell him with a smile, "Luki, when I grow up I want to be more like you."