She didn’t know much about the world back then, the 10-year-old girl whose parents had split and whose world had turned upside down. It was 1981, and the fear of Iranians and oil shortages was still palpable. But the bigger fear was a family dividing.

A couple of years before, Rhonda, on the playground, had confided that her parents were divorcing. She felt bad for her friend, but in her heart she said, “That will never be my parents.”

Now it was. Dad was gone; mom was doing her best to make ends meet, to keep a household together.

And sitting on the desk before her, a simple fifth-grade assignment. It was nearly the fall of the year, but it was the spring of life. Whatever you want, the teacher probably said. In your future you can do whatever you want. So what is it you want to do when you are grown up? Write about it.

And this is what I wrote:

My Future
When I am grown up, I am going to be a . . .
a housemother. I would like to go to college, but I don’t think I will. for one thing I probably won’t have enough money. I would rather start out like my mom did. She works now but she didn’t used to. I would be a good mother to my kids. They would be fed good because I love to cook. I think I am a pretty good cook myself. I kind of like to clean house, but I wouldn’t want to do it every day. I might work sometime, but I don’t know.

It was 1981.

Things don’t always turn out as we plan.

But if they did, would we be any happier?

Would we feel the hand of God wrapped firmly around ours if we spoke and it came to pass?


I was looking through some old boxes and came across this old essay, written as a school assignment. I received an S+ and “very good” even though the grammar and punctuation are atrocious, and the ambition was rather short-sighted. But one thing is certain, I adored my mom. And it was her love that eventually enlarged my world and gave me the vision for looking beyond myself and my circumstances. Thank God for mothers.