Every parent-to-be has no doubt spent plenty of time dreaming about what their children will be when they grow up.
Will she be a future president? Will he be an all-star basketball player? Will they go to an Ivy League?
When you’re pregnant, you’ve got time and you’ve got thoughts, so it’s only natural. Since finding my footing as a mother over the past few years though, I’ve realized that maybe those early dreams and aspirations weren’t really what I hope for my children after all.
More than anything, I really just hope they will be average.
I know, I know — but hear me out first.
I was a pretty average kid myself. Of course, I excelled in certain things — like when I was in the talented and gifted reading program in elementary school, or that time I won the spelling bee in 6th grade. But aside from that, I’ve been pretty darn average for as long as I can remember — academically, athletically (OK, definitely below average in this area), and socially.
I was never the “cool kid.” I remember sometimes wondering (well, more like wishing) I could be that popular girl that all the boys liked, or that really smart kid who got the full ride to Stanford, or that super sporty kid who led our high school to the state championship.
But alas, I wasn’t that girl and I never would be.
It’s not that my parents didn’t encourage me, or believe in me, or tell me that I was capable of anything I set my mind to. Trust me, they did all of that. It just wasn’t in the cards for me. But when I look back at my childhood and those defining years and look forward to where I’m at now, I think I’m pretty happy with average.
I may not have been the most brilliant scholar, but I was still able to make my way to a state school where I found my groove and graduated magna cum laude. It didn’t come super naturally; I had to work hard to make it happen, but I was proud when I did. I definitely had some of those brilliant kids as friends growing up though. I remember one of my friends dissolving into a heap of tears because she was worried she might get a B (gasp!) in advanced chemistry. The pressure and anxiety she felt to never make a mistake was so heavy, I have no idea how she managed it.
Many of those friends I had who went to the fancy schools are now working at pretty normal jobs and the ones with the prestigious jobs are working their lives away — with little personal time — to get ahead.
I may not have been a gifted athlete, but the fact that I didn’t excel in a sport meant I didn’t have to spend all my free time training, which meant I had a lot of time to try out different interests. I got involved in photography, drama, snowboarding, singing … and while I wasn’t particularly great at any of them, it was nice to not feel like I had to keep all my eggs in one basket. I knew people whose coaches wouldn’t even allow them to go snowboarding during their sporting season, lest they sustain an injury. I am thankful that I had a lot of time to spend with friends and family and to explore my own interests without feeling like I had to squeeze myself into a specific box just yet.
I may not have been one of the popular girls, but I had good friends. Just enough to provide me with support over the years, but not so many that my schedule was packed with social engagements. I wasn’t being invited to those parents-are-out-of-town types of parties, because I wasn’t in with that cool crowd. I remember feeling bummed about it sometimes, but I honestly think that not being cool saved me from some painful experiences and feeling pressured to do and try things that my 15-year-old self definitely wasn’t ready for.
As an adult, I have a career that I love (one that I might not have found had I been on a specific academic track), a wonderful family, and a happy life. It’s pretty average on paper I suppose, but for me it feels exceptional. These are the things I really want for my kids as they become adults — the hopes and dreams I have for them. As much as I would brim with pride if they did grow up to be brilliant scholars or professional athletes, or if they had arm loads of friends, those are not the things that I hope for them.
I hope that they grow up without any major emotional scars.
I hope they find careers that are fulfilling for them — whatever they may be.
I hope they find people that they love and a few good friends to confide in.
I hope they have families of their own one day.
These hopes may be small and simple and altogether average, but I’ve come to realize that sometimes average can be pretty exceptional.
Maybe my kids will be the next big Olympic athlete or our future POTUS, but maybe they will also be teachers and office assistants, and that would be just as wonderful if they were happy doing it. Either way, I’m feeling relaxed about the future, because average kids are actually pretty great.More On