Article by Wendy McCance
As a kid, I had a lot of expectations about what my life would be like when I grew up. Now looking back, it’s interesting to see what panned out and what turned out much differently than I thought it would.
I remember back when I was in second grade thinking about jobs and marriage and kids. I thought I would be an elementary school teacher for a blink of an eye (probably because I had a teacher in second grade who would go on to be by far the best teacher I ever had). I think many kids go the traditional route at this age when thinking about a career. How many girls wanted to be a teacher or a doctor or boys wanted to be a fireman or a policeman? Not to be sexist, but back when I was growing up, those were the careers that seemed to be the most popular for boys and girls.
Well, by third grade, I knew I wasn’t a lover of school and being a teacher only sounded good because of the summer breaks and holiday parties.
Third grade also introduced me to the children’s book author, Judy Blume. The very first book I ever read by her was, Are You There God It’s Me Margaret. To this day I have no idea why I picked out that book when our third grade class went to the library, but it changed my life. That book is what set the course for my love of reading. I dreamed of being an author of children’s books for years after. It took being unable to continue working outside of the home for me to return to the idea of writing. Finally, I am pursuing my dream!
Thank goodness for the internet. When I was younger I went to the library to read about becoming an author. It sounded extremely difficult and I had no idea where to begin or what to do. The internet is fabulous. You just type in your questions and get the answers you need to make your dreams a reality.
In all, I went on to have not one career (like you would imagine you would have once you are out of school) but many. Looking back, I have had a terrific time trying out many different careers and wouldn’t have had it any other way. Now that I am writing, all the jobs I have had are just expanding my view of the world and will definitely make an impact on the stories I will be able to tell.
I remember thinking when I was a kid that, of course I will get married someday, but I didn’t want a wedding ceremony with everyone present. I was horrified at the idea of kissing someone in front of everyone I knew and anyway, I have never liked being the center of attention. Picturing myself walking down the aisle with all eyes on me made me want to forget getting married at altogether.
Funny how that turned out. The first time I got married I went to city hall and then back to work once the ceremony was over (which was pretty much the way I had hoped to marry). The second time I got married, I had the ceremony in front of friends and family. I was scared to death, but with three kids in tow, it felt special to really celebrate the occasion by having a proper ceremony surrounded by everyone who meant the world to us. It was definitely the best decision I could have made. The best part is that I have an amazing memory of celebrating with the man who was truly the person I was meant to marry!
When I was little, I loved playing house and I adored dolls and changing and feeding them. I wanted to be a stay at home mom too. I pictured having 3 or 4 kids because I loved the idea of a big family. I never got along with my sister and I thought if a family was big enough, there would be brothers and sisters for everyone. Surely each child would find someone to get along with in a bigger family.
As I got older, probably around middle school, I decided I wouldn’t have children after all. I didn’t get along well with my parents and didn’t have that storybook feeling anymore about having a family. Raising a family just seemed stressful and sad and limiting.
When I was out of school and on my own, I met my first husband. He had a big family that I adored. Many of the siblings were grown with kids of their own and I got unlimited opportunities to be around kids of all ages. I just fell in love with these kids and that’s when my perspective changed. I decided that yes, I did want kids of mine own and I would like that big family after all.
I ended up having three kids (thankfully they all get along with each other) and it was the best decision I ever made!
I moved around a lot when I was small. I lived in Ohio and Kansas and Montana and Michigan. Montana made a big impression on me. I loved the mountains and the small town feel of the state. It was a beautiful place to live, the people were friendly and it felt peaceful. I always thought I would move back there once I grew up. In fact, when I left (we were moving to Michigan) at the end of second grade, I told my second grade teacher and my friends that I would be back soon.
Sadly, after all these years, I still haven’t made it back. I met my first husband when I was 18. He had a big family that all lived in the same area and he didn’t want to leave them. I understood and was so drawn to big family life that I was more than willing to give up Montana for a family that I felt closer to than my very own. I stayed.
I grew up surrounded by health. My parents (for the most part) had very few health problems and the issues they had did not bring their world to a halt. Medications, surgery or a change in lifestyle were all that was needed to get them feeling good again. I took my health for granted. It never occurred to me that I would have any health issues at all.
Well, boy was I wrong. Graves Disease, Fibromyalgia and Multiple Myeloma have changed the course of my life dramatically. I have had to alter my level of exercise, how much I can do in a day before I am completely wiped out and sore and I am no longer able to work outside of the house.
I miss the days of having endless energy. I hate contemplating how much I can do before I have to take a break. I can’t tolerate sitting for too long in a vehicle or even in a chair at the movies. I end up hurting too much from sitting still for so long. I tried to play sand volleyball recently. I had been missing doing what everyone else seems to be able to so easily do. Well, one evening playing was all it took to be in so much pain it took two and a half weeks to recover.
Even with the challenges of health issues, I have found ways to work around limitations. The best being that once I wasn’t working outside of the house, I started my own business and took up writing. Now I am doing what I love most!
As a kid, I used to imagine what my home would look like when I got to choose my own place. I would picture how many rooms it would have, what style home I’d pick, what the outside of the house would look like and what type of neighborhood I’d live in.
What is amazing is that I ended up with a very accurate picture. I remember as a kid wanting to live in a colonial just like the home I had grown up in. It was comfortable and felt like what a grown up house should be like. I wished for a home like the bigger homes in our neighborhood with four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms and a dining room. I loved our house, but the bigger homes just felt a bit more grand. I would picture great holiday parties and family gatherings in a home of that size. Our home had one less bedroom, bathroom and there was no dining room, but it was still a great house. It felt like a perfect, cozy home to live in and raise a family.
That vision of what I would be living in someday all changed when I went with my family to visit another family that lived in a tri-level house. I’d never been in a tri-level and didn’t even know they existed. Well, I fell in love. I adored all the floors and thought it was the coolest house you could live in. I desperately wanted to live in a house like that someday.
Years later, I would move into not a tri-level, but a quad-level home. I thought a tri-level home was cool, but the quad-level house blew my mind. Four floors with four bedrooms and two bathrooms on the top floor, a kitchen and living room on the main floor, a family room, bedroom, bathroom and laundry room on the lower level and on the lowest level, a finished basement. It was the best house!
Several years later, we moved out of that house and once again I was surprised by where we ended up. There was a neighborhood I loved that many of my friends had lived in when I was young. As a kid, I remembered saying that when I grew up I’d love to live in that neighborhood. It just seemed like such a happy, peaceful place to live. The neighborhood had twisty streets, lots of trees, beautiful homes and a pool in the community.
We ended up living right in that neighborhood, on my favorite street and in a house just like the one I grew up in. The only difference was that I got the extra bedroom, bathroom and dining room. It wasn’t a purposeful move to that neighborhood either. It’s just where we found the house that met our needs and kept our kids in the school district we wanted them in.
By far, the homes I’ve owned were the closest I have come to seeing my images of life as a grown up realized.
I wish I could remember more of the dreams I carried as a child. I love being able to compare what I was thinking about then and how things have turned out now. All those years I was so anxious to know how it would all turn out like a good story and I couldn’t wait to get to the end of the book. Now I feel like I am making the sequel. What will the second half of my life look like? How will life change once the kids are on their own? What will they do for a living? Will they live close by? Will I have grandkids? Will I get a book I have written on a bookshelf at a bookstore? Will I end up getting a home on the water when I retire? The questions go on and on. I can’t wait to find out what happens when I turn the page!
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]