There are so many twists and turns in life, so many things you don’t or can’t see coming. It’s taken me nearly 44 years to come to a place in my life where I’ve managed to do the things that were high up on my list. More than half a lifetime!!
When I was a kid growing up on Long Island, every child talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up. Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, whatever it was. I had three answers to that question: I wanted to be a veterinarian, I wanted to be a writer, and above all, I wanted to be a mom. A career was just bonus. More than anything in the world, I wanted children, even then. And I wanted as many dogs, horses, and cats as I could afford to have.
My mother was a librarian, so books were all but sacred in our house, and I fell in love with books early. I read early, and wrote my first story when I was four. I don’t remember what it was about at all, although I feel safe in saying that it was probably about horses, and I’m sure that somewhere in my parents’ things that story still exists. They kept things like that forever.
One of the first books I read till it was dog-eared and falling apart was All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott. Well, of course! It combined my first loves: books and animals! And it was James Herriott who made me want to be a vet, although it is difficult to accept that those kinds of vets don’t exist anymore. But at that age, I imagined myself as a female Dr. Herriott, helping animals and their humans during the day, and a writer at night. I would also, according to my mother’s plans, be married to a wonderful West Indian man and have the requisite 2 children, boy and girl.
I stuck with this combined plan of mine and Mom’s for many years. It started to change when I realized that I didn’t like research. I wanted to write, but I didn’t like being told what to write about, how and when to write it, and what the content would be. It was one reason I liked science fiction/fantasy. I could write about people with blue skin who live on a planet with two purple moons, where the sun was green, the water was burgundy, and the grass was pink, and there was no one who could tell me that it was impossible. If anyone tried, I could simply say, “Oh, you’ve been there? Then, pray, enlighten my humble self!” Needless to say, no one ever did.
I discovered boys, and lost interest in writing, though never in reading, and, apparently, never lost interest in weaving either. I wrote for myself. I discovered beading, and threw myself into that. Years passed, I finally met a mostly-wonderful man (lol), and we grew a family of two beautiful little girls who drive me crazy, and four big dogs (who also drive me crazy). In all that time, three things remained constant: I wanted to be a mom, I wanted to be a vet, and I wanted to weave. Forty-four years, and I’m two-thirds of the way there!
When I say that the twists and turns are odd, I mean that the plans you make are often not the ones you wind up with. I expected to be long done with college and veterinary medical school before I got married or had kids. Yet here I am at 44, on disability and not yet done with undergraduate school and still planning on vet med, which I thought was nuts at my age, until someone asked me how old I would be if I didn’t go. People don’t get younger. I’m going to keep getting older either way, so I might as well do what I want to do.
Learning to weave, as much as I wanted it, I didn’t really expect to learn at all. Kids? My plan was three boys first, then a girl, so that when she was old enough to date, every male in her orbit would know she had three big brothers in addition to her father for them to worry about, and only the best guys would stick in those circumstances! Plus, it was a well-known fact that girls have special relationships with their dads, and boys with their moms. I didn’t expect my girls to be as close to me as they are.
There are a lot of lessons to be learned by not following your plans to a “T” is what I’m trying to say, I guess. There are times I wish I had, sure, but overall, I’m happy!