What Defines a Woman… [scratch that] a Person?


I’m sitting at the table tonight while my four children are getting ready for bed.

The eleven year old asks a question about something she’d like to purchase with money she has recently acquired.

Somehow, said eleven year old ends up weeping on her bed… overwhelmed by the choices she faces in the years ahead of her.

When she walks back into the kitchen, hair disheveled, nose red, eyes swollen, it is hard for me to breathe.

She is me. Crying as a child, the only daughter, realizing that one day, I would be the only one in my family with a different last name.

Why are you crying?”, my parents asked.

When I get married, I will no longer be a ‘VanBibber’. I will be different from the rest of you“, I replied.

Tonight’s conversation was that. And yet it also veered so far from those sentiments.

Why are you crying?”, we asked.

The girls in my class already know what they want to do when they grow up“, she replied.

But so do you. You want to own your own animation company and create cartoons. Have a cat of your own. See the world.”

(blank stare)


Their plan is to get married, have children and own a big giant house.

Suddenly, my self-confident child, so sure of her purpose and dreams, is doubtful.

Her dreams don’t look like everyone else’s.

And that makes her a target.

We want everyone to look like us. Dream like us. Think like us.

It makes us feel better about our own choices, doesn’t it?

But that doesn’t make those choices better, or more right for us.

And that doesn’t make them any more likely to come true. If being my own independent-free-spirited self and having four children has taught me anything it’s this: We aren’t all cut from the same cloth.

We all have different purposes, hopes and dreams.

Mama and Riggy, can I call you anytime I need advice, when I grow up?

Of course, Sweetness. We are always here for you.

Just be you, my sweet girl.

Just be you.

linked up with Just Write


  1. I was one of those kids too – the ones who could never put their finger on just what it was that I wanted to do or be or whatever. So I settled into a career that paid well, but that I loathe going to each and everyday. And now I’m just as lost as your 11 year old.

    • she actually is very clear about what she wants to do (waaay more than I was at that age). But that is also the very thing that makes her feel so different and confuses her.

      I did the same thing as you. Although I started out be very clear about what I wanted to be as an adult (an artist/illustrator/graphic designer) I took the safe root and ended up totally changing course. It did not bring happiness…

      (I think it is the other 11 year old girls who are struggling as we did…)

  2. Her dreams are BEAUTIFUL dreams. They may change over the years, but I hope she never loses them to the crowd. Beautifully written post, too.

    • thank you, Jade! That has always been my prayer for her. Since she was a baby, she has marched to her own beat, and I’ve always been concerned that somehow that would be beat out of her (figuratively).

      The more I see her grow, the less I worry about that. But I also know that this will bring about new issues in upcoming years as other people label her ‘differen’t and ‘odd’…

  3. This made me tear up! Sweetie! Once you become a animator, you can own the BIGGEST house of all, have the best hubby of all, AND have kids. :) How wonderful! Her dreams sound awe-to-the-some to me! You go girl! Chase your dreams! :) blessings, cat

    • That’s my thought too, Cat! (and Randy and I will come swim in her pool!! :)

      She’s my independent, free-spirited, free-thinker girl!

  4. I so wish that the pull to fit in wasn’t so unbelievably strong at that age. All that we want is to not be differentiatable, which is the opposite of what we SHOULD want!! I remember those feelings all too well. I wonder how we can teach our kids that they should want to be different, want to be individuals, and want to not be like everyone else?

Speak Your Mind