When I started high school, I was certain I was going to be a fashion designer…or a French teacher…or a lawyer…or a medical examiner. (Quincy was a hit TV series at the time.) I knew I wanted children but, given my lousy luck with boyfriends, wasn’t so sure about a husband. I knew I wanted to travel. I knew I wanted laughter. By my senior year, I had narrowed my focus to fashion designer and/or French teacher. I would live in Paris and have an apartment in New York. I could clearly picture the design lines I would produce; a blend of conservative and hip, very haute couture. My designs would be carried in the top retail stores and my own boutiques. They would be featured in the pages of Vogue and I would travel the world. I would leave my mark upon the world. Before I died, people would know I was here.
I graduated with a degree in business (and a minor in French) and promptly landed a job with Neiman-Marcus in the Management Training Program. At the ripe age of 22, I felt like “life was finally coming together.” However, I didn’t stay at Neiman’s long. The money, the challenge, the thrills, and the “industry connections” I had dreamed of weren’t there. I changed paths and pursued a career in the newly emerging telecommunications market. It paid well. I was challenged. I liked the people I worked with, and by 26 I was starting my climb up the “corporate ladder.” Though I had no regrets in changing careers, at 28 I hit my “mid-life crisis.” (Got it out of the way early. Probably due to the overachiever in me.) Life was not unfolding as I thought it would and I really wasn’t sure “why I was here.”
Sometimes, life turns out very differently than we plan and leaves us wondering “why we are here.” After seeking the counsel of friends and family, it was my mom who shared that if I was “here” to impact only one other life, my time was not wasted. It didn’t have to be a grand gesture; it could be a smile I shared, a donation I made, a comment of support, or a simple act of kindness. I didn’t need to leave my name in a history book–or a fashion magazine–to leave “my mark” upon this world; I need only touch the heart of another.
Almost 3 years later, I gave birth to my oldest (with the husband I had met a decade earlier–that part of my life changed, too.) Another 3 years later, her sister arrived. And with their arrivals, I no longer doubted why I am here. For me, that answer came in two small bundles wrapped in pink.
It’s been over thirty years since I left high school, and though things didn’t turn out the way I had planned, I wouldn’t change a day of my journey. And, that includes the really, really lousy ones that helped form the person I am. I’ve been blessed with two wonderful girls, a fabulous husband, opportunities to travel, lots of laughter, and still have a great love for fashion, even though I’m in jeans most days.
This is a pivotal year for me as a mother and a teacher and a woman. It is a transition year. My oldest will graduate high school and I will take another step closer to my empty nest years. I will never stop being a mother, but my role will change. My schedule will have more freedom teaching only one; there will be more room for me in my days. And, once again, I have found myself pondering why I am here as I begin to outline my next chapter.
The other day, my sister sent me an (AMAZING!) video link (below). (Ironic, since I had it bookmarked to send to her. 🙂 ) The lyrics hold a concise answer to my question and a summary of all the dreams I hold for my children. I am so very grateful my sister is here to remind me why I am here when I begin to forget. She reminded me that when I begin with the end in mind, the answer is clear.
First and foremost, I am here to love. And, that is legacy enough for me.
And you? Have you found your answer to the “Why am I here” question?
©2011 Mary Lanzavecchia/Transitioning Mom