Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Backup Plan

When I was growing up, I answered the question, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" with the answer appealing to most demographics: a reporter. And I was being honest. But a part of me knew that if I answered with my heart, I'd be judged. I knew if I answered, "I want to be a mother and raise great kids," I'd somehow be put into a more dismissive category. Lots of women raise children. Lots of women stay home to rear them. But my need to be taken seriously, to set myself for a career "in case my plan didn't work out", conducted the answer I gave.
I went to journalism school, I worked in media and I loved being a reporter. I don't doubt that throughout my parenting years, I'll weave reporting in and out of my life story's fabric. But as far as I'm concerned, I've struck gold: I have married my best friend and become a mother very early in my adult life. We just bought our first home. I am already living the pinnacle of my life's dream. Every day that dream grows to encapsulate what we do, and I love doing exactly what I'm doing. It's perfect (for me) just the way it is.
I couldn't plan my life this way. No one gets to say they want to graduate university, get married, move to the Yukon and start a family before they turn 25. How many people does that dream happen to? So while my cards were lining up, I came up with a backup plan.
I still run away to it in my mind sometime, when I want to explore my alter ego, my parallel dimension. See, in another life, 25-year-old Sarah would be a ruthless, passionate reporter. I'd wear stilettos every day, silk blouses and pencil skirts. I'd be addicted to something from Starbucks and have every moment of every day planned in my Blackberry, and joyously so. I'd live in a metropolis, maybe even my heartland: New York City. I'd take yoga classes with Zen masters, pay $500 for a haircut and style, and know exactly what was the couture du jour. I'd have a plan and be working towards it: networking, working hard, making the most of deadlines, watching my writing and interviewing skills improve every day. I'd be telling stories to millions of readers every day before going out for chic cocktails with other single, hard-working, perfectly groomed people.
And it's funny to think that could be my life. That really, if I went mental and abandoned my family and ran away, this could be reality. For people that graduated with me, this is life.
I carefully look around my new house, smell the bread I just baked, see the toys I need to put away later, and hear the sound of my retriever barking in my backyard. I live in suburbia with Chariot-pushing, Volvo-driving Lululemon-wearing mamas and embrace that I'm living my dream. No need for a backup.


  1. Love this post Sarah. I never thought I would leave my career behind, but everyday I am thankful that I did.

  2. What's your "shit its the fan" backup plan if you wake up like Kevin McAllister and your family has disappeared?

  3. It used to be pursuing a Masters and continuing my career in Adult Education in the north. I would be working with adults who dropped out of school giving them the skills/education to get into trade school, college or university and become strong independent persons not dependent on welfare programs.

    However, I now think my back up plan would be a cabin in the woods with a huge green house, chickens, pigs, a couple of cows, where I can forage and hide from the world! Although I guess I would need to win the lottery to make that plan work.

  4. I love this post too Sarah.
    I never thought I'd ever have to feel the pressure from others to be a mom and have a career...but I find myself more and more having to defend the fact that I love being a stay at home mom and that I find it very fulfilling.
    It's funny because I've been a nanny, worked in early childhood education and have taught at the high school level (all things involving children) and that seems to be acceptable to others, but when I say that I am staying at home and doing many of the above mentioned things with my almost one year old people lok at me like I'm crazy. "Could that really be fulfilling", it seems like they want to say? But for me it is. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else but what I do.


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