When I was a kid, my parents told me I could be and do anything I wanted (as long as it required a college degree and wasn’t embarrassing). As a graduating nursing student, my prof leaned into my ear and said, “I know you’re going to set the world on fire!”
I don’t think she meant arson.
So I grew up with these expectations that if I worked hard enough, the world was going to be my oyster and I would rule all with my kindly queenliness. I would MAKE A CONTRIBUTION.
Didn’t help that my mum was one of the first female lawyers to graduate from UNB, and that she was smart as a whip and so obviously not happy with staying at home, her intellect stuck in neutral.
Not only would I rule the world, but marriage wasn’t really important, and boys less so, was the message.
I did my degree, went out to work, only to find out that I wasn’t particularly good at bedside nursing. I had chosen nursing because I knew I didn’t have the commitment to be a doctor. But nursing demanded odd hours and racing about and constant fear that I’d screwed up somewhere or that I would be asked to do something I had no idea how to do.
I got married. What the heck? I had absolutely no diagram about how to be married. I didn’t even know people who knew how to be married. Ergo, I ended up in the nursing scenario again, always afraid I was doing something wrong.
That’s okay, I thought. I’ll parent. I’ll be the BEST parent. I’ll BE INVOLVED, but not smothering, funny but not mean, perfect in every way. Well, my kids will tell you how that turned out. I was INVOLVED but a lot of parenting is simple boring drudge work, interspersed with those moments of glory that make you do it. There’s a reason babies smile at 6 weeks. I didn’t much like that job, either, though I do like my kids.
I moved to public health. Felt a bit more certain there. I’ve always been able to talk myself out of situations, so teaching about healthy habits came naturally. And then I learned I could talk myself INTO situations. Uh oh.
Every time I had one of these deep “whoa can’t do that” experiences, I stepped back, further into the introvert world. I felt like Tigger, wanting only ‘haycorns’ and then deciding he hated them.
I’m coming to realize that I am meant to lead a small life. One where successes are small, often almost invisible.
One where when I leave it, the obituary will likely be a three line one. “Mother of three. We have NO IDEA WHAT SHE DID WITH HER TIME. It’s possible we’ll miss her.”
But maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe I should learn to settle in, be my little person, grab the joy I get from making people laugh or when they see my little critters or watch me make a fool out of myself. Maybe life is in the little things, an ear for a friend, a pair of socks for a cold kid, a smile for the bus driver, a warm ginger cookie like the ones I just baked for my sister.
Or maybe…..maybe….maybe I could just finish this book and…
The dreams of bigness die hard. Yes, they do.
PS: I did learn how to be good at boys, but too late, she cried, and waved her wooden leg….
Most of us live small lives, and the small things you mention, the ear for a friend, the ginger cookies, these are not small, but big things to the recipient. When I was going through cancer treatment 8 years ago, it wasn’t the grand gestures I remembered (like the huge bouquets of flowers, delivered) but the walk in a small lilac garden with a friend, Lilac, you see, has healing properties. So does time with a friend.
Your epitaph should read: Dreamer of dreams, big and small, she made a difference in the lives of many.
Love this! Thanks for sharing your intelligent, funny thoughts, that tend to provoke. Which is a good thing, of course.
On Jan 17, 2017 12:16 PM, “DA’s Ephemera and Etceteras” wrote:
> dorothyanneb posted: “When I was a kid, my parents told me I could be and > do anything I wanted (as long as it required a college degree and wasn’t > embarrassing). As a graduating nursing student, my prof leaned into my ear > and said, “I know you’re going to set the world on fire” >