A Mother’s Dreams

One night, a couple of days before Mother’s Day, LOML invited me {quite forcefully} to join him downstairs. Trying to figure out what could be so compelling this late at night, I soon found myself in the middle of a mess. Thanks to a broken pipe in the hot water heater, water was running, dripping, pouring into the basement. Soggy ceiling tiles, shorted out light, puddled carpet, saturated insulation. As I threw down towels, wrung out towels, moved buckets, salvaged stuff out of the wet zone, ran upstairs to check on the water status there and then ran back downstairs, I realized I was standing barefoot right smack dab in the middle of the perfect picture of motherhood. Standing back, with my hands on my hips, I knew, at that moment, Norman Rockwell could not have captured the essence of a mother’s life any better!

Mothers are constantly assessing, diverting, praying, learning, evaluating, judging, sucking it up, crying, drying, prioritizing, choosing, redirecting, swearing, plugging, cleaning, surveying…and then we take a quick breath and start it all over again in the next moment. I can’t speak for anyone else but I know this is not the fairy tale dream I grew up with!

But we still dream the dream. And it’s a good thing we do!

The earliest dream I remember having when I was a young girl was the desire, wish, longing to have been a pioneer. Dressing up in my Grandma’s pioneer clothes – complete with bonnet, lace up dresses and button-up shoes – was a little bit of Heaven for me. I’d let my imagination take me away to a time when I knew in my heart of hearts, I would have been one of the valiant pioneers. I would have cooked over cow pie fires with no complaining and walked miles and miles and never once tripped over my long skirts or petticoats. But eventually I realized I had been a fence sitter too long in the pre-existence. I had missed my chance to be a Pioneer. So, this dream of being a pioneer was pushed to the back of my mind.

Growing up I had lots of short-term aspirations. Like being a world-famous bug collector or a roller skate queen. Watching all the popular variety shows of the day where they invited famous people to perform, I began to believe I could be a famous musician. So I worked towards that dream. Until I sat on my violin. Fortunately, I had a mother who was not only willing but adamant that I have some musical training and so we tried the piano this time. One of the few musical instruments meant to be sat on. Then the organ. Then the hippie in me won out and I took up the guitar. Circumstances changed and my dream of achieving recognition for my great musical talent was pushed to the back of my mind.

I have always wanted to be a writer. Again, my own mother was supportive as she helped me rhyme words and count syllables while I struggled to write down what was in my head and my heart. But then elective classes in school hit and I decided I could be an artist. Oil paints, linseed oil, chalks….I could do this. But I found I could only copy someone else’s work, I couldn’t paint what was in my own head. And so this dream of writing something important that others would enjoy and painting a priceless masterpiece were pushed to the back of my mind.

I went to college with aspirations of being a social worker. A couple of hard classes defeated me and I decided to change my major to education. I began working towards a teaching degree. Then I met this cute guy. School continued but there were other choices and options on the horizon now. So, goals of being either a social worker or a teacher were pushed to the back of mind.

The night before I was to be married, my mother and I were talking. I’m not sure what exactly brought it up, but I informed her that if, for some reason, my betrothed was not at the temple the next morning, I would be getting in my VW bug and hitting the road. I would not stop until I came to the first Peace Corps office and there I would be enlisting. I would devote my life to serving others and taking care of those less fortunate than myself and she may or may not ever see me again. It was dark as we were talking, but I’m pretty sure I heard her eyes roll. I’m also pretty sure she spent the rest of that night in fervent prayer that there would actually be a wedding the next morning. Needless to say, Alan was at there the next morning {albeit a bit late} and, so, my Peace Corps dream was also pushed to the back of my mind.

I had a variety of goals and dreams and longings as a young girl.

Life happened. Cooking, sewing, budgeting, keeping house and looking after a husband all took a front row seat in my life.

And then….

….Baby #1, fresh from Heaven with his own little set of challenges and talents, was laid in my arms. I was blown away. I was honestly in new, uncharted, unmapped territory! And then came #2, #3, #4 and #5 – each of them with their own set of challenges and talents for me to discover and learn and help them master. Sometimes I wandered through thickly forested areas or gravel pits or on paths with thorned bushes on either side. Sometimes it was more of a straight path through beautiful meadows. Whichever way, no matter how many books had been written or how many “perfect” mothers there were out there, I was forging my own path. Figuring things out on a daily basis. Praying constantly for help. I realized my dream. Fence sitter or not…

I got to be a pioneer.

I learned to sing or hum lullabies and primary songs while bouncing a colicky baby. I realized I could create harmony out of the sound of children’s off-tune, marching-to-their-own-drum melodies – all playing simultaneously, usually with no volume control and sometimes around the clock. And having a concert with recorders and ukuleles while singing “Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley” was nothing short of spectacular!

I got to be a musician.

And not a moment in the day went by that I did not try to write on my children’s hearts words of love and encouragement. “Be your best”, “It’s what’s inside that counts”, “You are my sunshine”, “You can do anything if you want to bad enough”. And at the end of every day, there was always an “I love you, no matter what” and a kiss. And amid crayon art on the wall, finger nail polish stains on the carpet and stick figure cards, those Kodak moments came frequently enough, giving me a glimpse into the beautiful, unique eternal nature of these spirits entrusted to me – these priceless masterpieces. And I was renewed.

I got to be a writer. I got to be an artist.

Out of everyday moments, I was teaching grace in hard situations and strength in the midst of tears. Spreading an impromptu picnic on the floor to get the most out of the cake that just fell off the counter. Trying to help my children remember what they were made of inside; they were here to make mistakes and they had a Father in Heaven who loved them very much. Holding a sobbing 18-year-old on my lap while her heart broke because there would be no prom date. Wrapping my arms tightly around another daughter trying to understand a miscarriage. Sitting upstairs and hearing, through the heat vents, another child sobbing in the shower downstairs. Blessed with so many opportunities to experience tender mercies and strength beyond my own – so many moments giving me more experience in social work than any college courses.

Explaining to a son that if you are going to ride your bike with your feet on the handlebars and your arms flapping in the breeze, you probably deserve that large goose egg on your head — and you should be very grateful that is all you got. Reading books alongside them to make sure they understood what they were reading; understanding why I quit math after high school geometry; teaching them that school work NOT finished at school automatically becomes HOME work and they did need to bring it HOME And, of course, running alongside an uncertain but determined bike-rider right after the training wheels had been removed. All of these instances, as well as many others, made me a better teacher than anything I would have learned sitting at a desk in a classroom.

I was a social worker. I most certainly got to teach.

I never made it to any 3rd world countries with the Peace Corps. But I will argue that catching barf in my lap; wiping runny noses with my bare hands; rinsing messy diapers out in the toilet multiple times a day; trying to put a band-aid on a minor scrape while the victim is most assuredly convinced they are dying; scraping food out of hair, noses and ears; trying to understand why one child is sitting on the roof while figuring out which child stole the ladder; rescuing stuffed animals from being flushed down the toilet and reading the same little Golden Books over and over and over and over again rivals anything I could have done in another country. I may have gone to bed exhausted but oh, so very satisfied.

I got to serve others.

I am so grateful I had my dreams, even if they lingered for a time in the cobwebs because they have come true in ways that are so much more amazing than my original dreams!

Happy Mothers Day to women everywhere who are blessed with the opportunities to influence the lives of these precious children. You may just be the realization of their dreams! They will rise up and call you blessed!

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