When I Grow Up I Want to Be…

my grandparents and all their great-grandkids Christmas 2012

robb and i were asked over Christmas dinner what we want henry to be when he grows up.

my first reaction, after recent sad biographies in the news of kids turning into sad, scared, violent adults is that i’m more worried about what i DON’T want him to become than what i do want.

all i know for sure is i want him to be healthy and happy. and it was universally agreed that “happy” is what we’ll aim for. but what is ‘happy?’ and how do you snag it and keep it for your kid?

happiness is an elusive, vague concept. when we tried to dissect it some, we came up with happy = satisfaction with who you are. and choices. options. opportunities. the chance to succeed, by your own definition, and the confidence and security that goes with that.

and God. a lot of peace of mind and freedom from having to be perfect comes with knowing Him. and with faith, ideally, a kindness and awareness of others. a sense of accountability and acceptance that there’s more to life than just you and your own personal needs.

this conversation was between my parents, my sister, my grandparents and uncle. all of these are outstanding people- who i would certainly consider happy and successful. so when they talk, i listen.

my grandparents, in their late 80’s, are amazing specimens. they are brilliant and vibrant and funny and have been married for something like 65 years. and they still like it. 🙂 they’ve experienced a lot of life. they both tell vivid stories of living through WWII (my grandfather in the ocean, my grandmother working hard back at home), but also are completely active in the world today- caught up on the recent best selling novels and regularly on facebook and email and shopping online.

when they grew up, she one of 9 kids, he one of 17, as you can imagine, there was not a whole lot of money or opportunities. they did well for themselves, but neither of them went to college and always wished they had. so they prioritized education for their 4 kids. and my dad and all his sibs have at least an undergrad degree, some have more.

my grandparents lived their lives well and were very successful, but also were able to give their kids opportunities they never had.

and although we acknowledge that a college degree does not guarantee success (or even regular work),  it generally can open up doors that might otherwise be closed. and, again, ideally,  it at least encourages exploration of the mind and a desire to learn and grow.

i think that’s the other part of happy. always having new, fresh goals in front of you. always changing and moving and becoming a better version of yourself.

my grandparents are a great example of a love that lasts forever but never gets stagnant. and are each people who continue to challenge themselves and learn new things. they are also kind, generous, fun and full of faith and life. 

when i grow up, i want to be like them.

and i guess when henry grows up, i want him to be the ever-evolving, most complete version of himself that he can be. excited to be alive, confident in who he is, strong in his faith, and giving to others.

and a brain surgeon astronaut AIDS-curing scientist pastry chef.

but no pressure.

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