Dear Andrew—When You Grow Up

When I came to get you from ‘school’ today, I saw a sign on the door written in marker. It said, “When I Grow Up”. And next to every child’s name there was an occupation written in a primary color. Some said ‘fireman’, some ‘teacher’, some ‘police’…yours said ‘Andrew…doctor.’

Now, this made me laugh because I’ve written on my blog about how I would NEVER want to be a doctor, and how awful it sounds, so maybe it would serve me right if you became one and got to laugh at me all the way to the bank, and then got to save lives all day while I was steadily learning to drive on the highway. 

Maybe you would be a good doctor—you never know. You’re only 3, and technology changes all the time…there are jobs today that didn’t exist when I was your age. Reality stars and Youtubers make plenty of money, and there was no such thing when I was little. Reality tv, not money.

I hope I don’t put pressure on you to take a certain path, but no promises. I mean, I want you to be good at what you do and I want you to have a life with little suffering. I want you to be prepared for your career. And yeah, I’m crass enough to admit I want you to make money. You’re gonna hear my opinion on this until the day I die…sorry, but that’s no surprise at this point, is it?

I’m a teacher. The other day a third-grader asked me, “Is it fun being a teacher?” I said yes, it was. “But people are always yelling out your name!” 

And yeah…teaching is a very exciting job, but if you need a lot of peace and quiet, I can’t recommend a job in an elementary school. Unless you’re the person who proctors the tests or works in the CFO’s office. (Ooh, that’s an idea… go into finance like Pop Pop! Or accounting! Seriously, if I’d had any interest in numbers, accounting would be great. Also very quiet.)

Speaking of proctoring tests, there might be a living in that. Daddy did it for a while. It got kind of boring..but you get to look at a screen all day. And you’d do that if you could.

And that’s just one of the many jobs Daddy has had over the years. Before you were born, he worked at a place where he just answered phones all day..he didn’t like it. Then he worked at a frozen yogurt place. He liked it..of course you would LOVE it, but it doesn’t pay much, and they make you shave your beard off (or wear a net around it…) Then he became a teacher too. He’s good at it. 

Daddy is also a perpetual student. He keeps going back to school and getting more degrees. He likes to read long books and then talk about them with his friends. Maybe you’d like that. There’s not a lot of money in it, but people like it. And you get to wear comfortable clothes to work, so there’s that. And you get to have great conversations with people. Seriously, my days at college were some of the best of my life. I would start talking to someone about some idea or some writer, and the present time and place would drop away. We would have long discussions that were never boring. I found other people who loved to read and write..and those were my people. 

But your people may not be there—and if you don’t go to college that’s fine. Your people may be the people who make things with their hands, or they may be musicians or actors or singers (you’ve got a good voice; I’m not sure if it’s actually good at this point but it is…loud.) Or maybe you’ll have some great idea for some brilliant thing we all need, and you’ll spend your life perfecting it and making it and selling it (Can it be a blender that cleans itself?). That’s fine.

I wonder often if God will call you to be a pastor or a priest—if I’ll stand in the congregation, listening to you sing prayers or bless the bread and wine, remembering how I dragged you up the aisle the day of your baptism, you in your suit and me in my fit-and-flare dress, you throwing a tantrum about having to stand and me stone-faced, determined to get you there without incident. I wonder if you’ll be a missionary somewhere I’m afraid to go. There are many such places.

But the truth is, there’s no hurry. And I really don’t think of it often…I can’t, you see. Because it’s like looking down when you’re walking on a wire. I can’t think about the fact that someday you’ll have to make a living, that you’ll be a man and have a calling on your life…that I’m raising someone’s husband and someone’s father. I just have to think about today’s tantrum..today’s mess..today’s laughter during prayers…today’s bread. But someday you’ll be a grownup, and I’ll know what you became. 

It’s crazy to think God already knows. He’s watching you in the future, living your life…what does he plan for you? Who, right now, is yet to be born, who you’ll know or minister to? Is there a little girl in some preschool class right now who will one day be your wife? What will you be?

Maybe a doctor. Who knows? But here’s the truth…

When you were born, there was a commercial that kept playing. It showed a little boy on a high dive, in a swimsuit and goggles, before a big audience, with cameras pointed at him. Then he jumped. And a man hit the water without a splash, while an older woman stood up with her hands over her mouth in anticipation. That’s when you realize she’s the only one who sees the diver as a little boy with blonde curls. The tag line was, “To their moms, they’ll always be kids”. 

And you’ll always be my Drew.

Love, mom.

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