I was bringing some dirty dishes to the church kitchen after teaching Sunday school yesterday when I saw a tall figure enter the men’s bathroom.
“Hey!” I said, calling him back out. “Is that who I think it is? Come back out here!”
That tall figure — towering about a head and a half over me — was my former Sunday school student, whom I taught back when he was a short and kinda scrawny 6th grader. He indulged me while I engaged him in some height comparisons and questions about his future. Now a second-semester high school senior, he’s likely headed off to Madison for college in the fall.
At home I watch my own high school senior getting ready to graduate. He’s the baby, so in a sense I’m “graduating” soon too. In part to get ready for this transition, the past couple of years have been a period of intense refocusing and reorganizing my life, with lots of reflection on what I “want to be when I grow up.”
Seeing my former student yesterday made me think about what I wanted to do with my life when I was his age. My mother fairly pushed me out the door to college. I really didn’t want to go, although I loved school. I just didn’t see the point since what I wanted to be was a homemaker and a writer. Who needed to go to school for that?
I remember scandalizing my Spanish Conversation class in my first year of college when the day’s assignment was to have a discussion about our future career plans. “Quiero ser ama de casa,” I said. “I want to be a housewife.” My teacher tried to correct me. Surely I meant “ama” (boss/owner) of some kind of business? Of a casa editorial (a publishing house), perhaps?
“No, I mean housewife,” I clarified in forbidden English. “And a writer.”
I still remember the look on the face of my only real academic rival in that class. Her freckled face radiated with the delight of sure victory. I might run neck and neck with her up through those 400-level Spanish classes, but after graduation I was toast. She’d be headed to a multinational bank as a translator and I would become … what? ¿Una ama de casa? Pan tostado, indeed.
When I look around now at my imminent empty-nesterhood, I ask myself that same question: What do I want to be?
If you look at my enduring life interests, they are the concerns of a housewife/writer. My goals for the year include learning to make my own non-GMO tofu and homemade laundry detergent, taking my wild foods foraging book out into the woods and finding a meal, and growing some heirloom variety chiles. Oh, and get an agent to represent my short story collection and finish writing the Great American Lesbian Novel.
Just as I’ve spent the past couple of years really coming to accept my essential writer-ness, I think the next year will be in part about embracing my true ama de casa-ness. I like home — with or without any kids in it. I like making home, creating order, feeding people, planning ahead, being cozy. Sure beats a day in the office of a multinational bank, if you ask me.