When I was a girl, people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said I wanted to be a mom and have babies. Really.
When I was in high school and people started asking me what I wanted to "be", I knew that having babies was NOT what they wanted to hear.
So when I was a senior, I decided that I would study Fashion Design. After all, I loved fashion (still do!), had bought myself $100 Norma Kamali bathing suits and had a subscription to Vogue and WWD with my babysitting money. I made the coolest clothes in high school and considered myself very fashion forward. I wasn't absolutely positive that I wanted to be a fashion designer, but I felt compelled to make a decision because it was "time".
Well I went to Fashion Design school- FIDM in SF. What I learned was that I could MAKE anything. Really, anything. Somebody has to sew these things and I am one of those people who understands the language of threads, wool, weaving, textiles, drape, bias, and construction- involving fabric. I can make a pattern for anything and I would be happiest to spend all of my money in a fabric store! While in college, I would stop at Britex at least twice a week to feast my eyes on floors upon floors of bolts of fabrics and notions.
And I adored my Pattern Drafting class, pinning muslin onto Wolf dress forms to make patterns was just right up my alley. I learned so much! And created a lifelong love for Wolf dress forms (thank you Janey, Ms. Wolf was the perfect gift!):
Maybe my interest developed while watching my mom sew when I was little. I have a vivid memory of her kneeling on the living room floor with a tissue (Butterick?) pattern laid out on some yardage, pins in her mouth, using that little pronged pattern tracer that looked like a tiny, pokey pizza cutter.
My mom sewed the satin red, white and blue ballet skirts for my recital when I was just 5 or 6, she sewed all of our Halloween costumes, she sewed us girls Easter Bonnets and made us cute matching nightgowns out of pillowcases and ribbons. She let us use her sewing machine any time we wanted.
Turns out, I'm a mom who had babies (3), who can sew just about anything, who loves fashion still to this day, who is crazy about textiles of any kind, who used to play "office" and "store" with my sisters, who is doing (for the most part) the things I wanted to do when people asked me "What do you want to be when you grow up?".
I'm thinking about all of this as I watch my detail minded/computer building/lego/boy engineer pursue his college education studying physics and math. And as I watch my Beautiful Daughter #1 try to decide what she "wants to be" when she grows up. She is feeling that same pressure, trying to figure it all out, and only now, in my early 40's can I really say to her: just study what you are interested in. It will come to you. I think someone else has made our plan already and we have to be open enough to receive those directions.
And that may be the hardest thing of all.