I’m reflecting a lot this month. We’re preparing for a Sweet 16 party for one of our daughters. 16 is a milestone, but it’s really only 16% of the way to becoming a centurion. She still has so much of her life ahead of her; finishing high school, choosing career and spouse, children of her own.
Reflecting on myself at that age, I remember feeling so grown up, so ready to take on the world. If I only knew then, what the years have taught me.
I loved 50’s and 60’s music but enjoyed the music of the 70’s, too. We laughed to the many songs by Ray Stevens like The Streak, my Mom helped organize benefits for people in need with our CB radio club, and we loved watching MASH on tv. Star Wars was THE movie and we wondered if we would be able to afford the huge rise in gas prices (which now seem so minimal.)
But then, I think it’s probably just as well we don’t know everything at 16, or even at 25. Life is experienced anew each day. We choose where we are headed, what we will do, who will be in our lives, who we will let go.
We make choices, those choices open up new avenues and close others. It’s a bit like a maze that has many routes, but each changes the next course.
I look back on the choices I made. At 16, I was headed for a college, then a career, something in the animal science field. My world centered on animals of all kinds. I had close friends and family, too.
I was a teen in the 70’s. If you’d like a glimpse into what life was like in the 70’s, click here.
After my career was set, I planned to marry, have two kids, and would need a nanny to help raise them as I was certain I’d continue my career.
Jet forward to me at 55. I had gone to college for animal sciences. But then my life took some twists and turns. I did work with animals, as well as other jobs, but before I was truly meshed into a career, I found the love of my life and we married. He was a computer entrepreneur.
We did have two children, 2 adorable boys. And when the first was born, I knew I could never leave him with anyone! I was a stay at home mom. Actually, more of a work at home, but my kids came first, always.
And those 2 children? By age 40, we actually had 5 children and hopes for even more. I still had my furkids, too. Dog shows, horse shows, rabbit shows, county fairs, and much more. I’d helped with retraining rescues, I had taught dog obedience classes, and I had been the county 4H goat leader, dog leader, and rabbit leader.
Now at 55, looking back, that little 16 year old, too shy to branch out yet eager to find her way, had no idea what the world would offer her. Life has had its preverbal ups and downs, of course. But I am so happy to have 9 children (Remember we wanted more? Adoption came our way) Our little 10 acre farm became a thriving 50 acre organic hydroponic farm. My career? It’s a myriad of animals and kids, farm and home, all intertwined with family. My family is my career. My career is my family. And I’m good with that. My choices led me to realize that in the end, this is the life I had always yearned for.
I have no need for a nanny and annual vacations. I don’t need the big, fancy home that my 16 year old self planned. At 16, I had a lot of great ideas, but they were very young ideas. Life needed to season them, to help them grow and develop. Each day helped to nourish those ideas into a life that is full of happiness, with dabs of unhappy, of course, but so completely full of happiness that the unhappy gets pushed aside.
If I could talk to my 16 year old self, I’d tell her to keep dreaming and planning, but to not forget the importance of family and close friends. I’d tell her not to be surprised when she realized that her best chance at happiness was family and home!