I do not have the children I expected. They’re like me in ways I wish they weren’t. They express traits of their father’s that are not amongst my favorites. But, on some days I can see the best of myself and my spouse shimmer within them. I treasure those days. Even then, when I am hopeful and happy (relatively), I worry and cannot sideline the stereotypical Westside mother I embody. I push for more. Always and forever more. I am the Sisyphus of parenthood, my children the recalcitrant rock that will not heed my guidance up Opportunity Hill.
My children are late bloomers. Some days I have to dig deep to believe that they will bloom at all; those days when their rooms are disasters, a teacher (or sometimes two, frankly) emails concerns, or when I see the thing they swore they would never forget on the kitchen counter, right where I left it… when I reminded them to take it. On those days, Opportunity Hill seems like an insurmountable mountain. On those days my digging is for comfort — candy, wine, carbohydrates in any form — or competence – the pursuit of work in areas of my life where I don’t feel like a complete and utter failure.
But that was yesterday. Today is a good day.
Today I see the promise of a little bud. One child has been kind, another resourceful. One has found a new client and a buyer for an old car.
Today I sold my son’s 2005 Prius. A tick on my “To Do” list. The realization of a dream dared dreamed by another mother’s son.
“You can count it,” said the buyer and his mother of the envelope they handed me.
“No, you’re honest,” I said slipping it into my purse. My son knows the young man’s stepfather. It’s a strong enough connection for me to trust that the bills added up to the agreed upon price.
I smiled and handed him two car keys. And voila, right there in the AAA vestibule, a young man’s dream came true.
“Can we give you a ride?” the first-time car owner asked.
“No, thanks, my husband is coming to get me.”
He beamed. “Oh, good. Then we’re going to deal with insurance!”
I took a mental picture, believing then as I do now, that it would be the first and only time I’d see someone this stoked about insuring anything. His mother paused, “Thank you. It’s his first full time job.”
And then she followed her son and his dream into AAA. She followed his dream.
I should’ve had the car washed, filled up the tank with that last half gallon. I should’ve done more.
“Amy, he said he wanted it “as is”. He’s going to work on it with his stepdad,” my son texted in response to the litany of my failings I’d just sent him.
We nurture dreams for our children – it’s what keeps us going as sleep deprived new mothers. And we keep dreaming because no matter how much they challenge us, we always hold out hope for them in our hearts. But kids have the audacity to individuate and dare to develop their own dreams. My little buds will bloom – just not in ways I expect or maybe even want them to blossom. What idiot taught them to think for themselves and question everything while pursuing excellence. You know the answer, it’s that bitch in the mirror.
The 16-year-old, dirty Prius was part of that other young man’s dream, one of many if the skip in his step is to be believed. I hope he fulfills them all.
- This Mother’s Dream Prayer
Dear God,Enable my children to blossom. Let the glory of their blooms provide shade to those who need protection from the sun and lift up those who need a stalk to climb closer to its rays.
May they use their privilege to live useful lives. Please, help them find a passion and serve that passion’s dream – then enable them to further the dreams of the others whose lives they touch.
Please, dear God, give me the wherewithal to accept my children’s dreams for themselves, no matter how different their visions of their own futures are from what I so desperately want their lives to hold for them down the road. They are their own people; they should have their own dreams. Please, please, please give me the strength to believe the previous sentence. Dear Lord, I know my list is long, but I am strong willed. Teach me how to bite my tongue even when I’m right. And I am right. A lot. When it comes to my kids at least. I know the little buggers well – even though they have the nerve to develop as whole people with dreams of their own.