Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Daydream Believer

Before I had my own children I used to imagine what motherhood would be like.

It would be rosy.
Always very rosy.
Hearts and flowers and rainbows.

Oh I might have imagined pacing the floor with an adorable not sleepy infant on my shoulder but in my picture I would be sighing and smiling at the loveliness of that. Not anxious and crabby and bone weary tired after 56 consecutive nights of interrupted sleep.

I pictured myself chasing laughing toddlers thru the green grass, baking cookies in a sunny kitchen, reading stories cuddled up on the couch.

I did not picture myself standing anxiously over an impulsive three year old as a doctor stitched up her head for the third time in as many years, nor did I imagine sending a cheeky little girl to the naughty step. In my daydreams my children were always obedient and never talked back. They thought I hung the moon every single day of their little lives. They listened to my words of wisdom and nodded in agreement all the while thinking 'my mom is the best mom in the whole wide world.'

I pictured myself lovingly preparing meals as my teenager sat nearby diligently completing homework. I pictured riding in the car while my happy smiling teen rode beside me sharing tales of wonderfulness about her day mingled with I love you mommy. I did not imagine ordering food at a drive in window then driving off without it. Or flying right on by a turn I needed to take because I was trying not to freak out over something my teenager just shared on the fifteen minute ride to ballet.

I never imagined so many of life's hard questions would require an instant on the spot response or that I would ever sit on the bed of my teenager as she cried about the hurt a friend had caused. Nor could I have imagined negotiating the parameters regarding parental supervision, alcohol, and the 's' word for every single weekend's social events.

I did not imagine saying no.
A lot.

And I could never have known that once my heart was opened to the heights and depths of parental love it was open to a deep well of other emotion too...that I would never again hear of a hurt or hungry or neglected child anywhere and not feel sadness in the deepest part of my soul.

I never imagined a child sick with a high fever calling from hundreds of miles away or the worry that would percolate under my skin all week until that child's sweet voice returned to normal. I positively never imagined living an ocean apart from my child. I did not picture one day hearing about car accidents and broken hearts from hundreds and even thousands of miles away and not physically being there to make it all better.

In my daydreams I was always there.
Because in the daydreams of my pre-parenthood days I never ever imagined grown up children.

I did not know that as they grew I would hope their hopes and feel their hurts and want to give them the whole world. That somewhere along the timeline known as child rearing I would realize that just isn't possible. Or even good. I would one day understand that disappointment and success, sadness and joy, are all necessary parts of childhood if we want grown up children who are full of compassion and kindness and generosity.

No one could have told me then that when those babies of my daydreams grew up they would be wrapped around my heart so tightly and so completely that I would sometimes be overwhelmed with love for them. That even though they are not in a crib in the next room but instead are hundreds of miles away they still have the ability to wake me up in the middle of the night.

That one day I would lie in the quiet darkness of an empty house and pray for their physical safety, for their relationships, for the paths they would walk, and the choices they would have to make. That in spite of birthdays marking the passing years, in spite of time and growing up, they would be a part of me always, and although every now and then I would long for the sweetness of a newborn or the cheeky little toddler girl, or the teenager who was changing before my very eyes, I would finally understand...

Its the birthdays marking the passing years, the years we marked in minutes and hours as we grew up side by side...that those are the very things that have woven our lives together to give us what we have today.

And like the strongest strand of chord it can be stretched but remains unbroken.


  1. This was beautifully written, Joyce. I have felt the same way and I had to sigh a bit because I really do hope the teenaged years will resemble the whole "happy teen doing homework near me as I cook dinner."
    Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Beautiful post! I have the same images you had - my children will never be far and I can't imagine them grown and living away from me.

  3. I think every mom has felt this way! What a great post!

  4. This my be my favorite post of yours to date! Amazing and oh so very, very true!

  5. Great writing Joyce. Now I must go and wipe my tears...

  6. As always you express your thoughts so beautifully. I can't think of anything else to add because you've said it all.

  7. Great post! I think so many never go after their dreams because the reality of seeing them through is a lot of hard work. Whether parenting or anything else though, the fruit of that work is amazing and so rewarding. Beautifully written.

    Thank you Joyce (and thank you for stopping my blog as well).

  8. Joyce,

    This is so beautifully written and definitely expresses my daydream beliefs, too.

    Just last night my 12 year old daughter was crying to me and sharing her heart saying, "Can you believe in just 4 years Austin will be gone, and then in 6, I will be?" She is feeling emotional about the fact that he is leaving to go to high school after being home educated for the past 7 years. Life is about to feel very different around here and I look forward to getting used to the new normal. I have to say that I feel a lot of what she is feeling.

    Thank you for touching our mother's hearts with your beautiful words and helping us to feel what sometimes is difficult to express.

    Hugs from me to you,

  9. Sniff, sniff. You really have a way of putting to words what we empty nesters feel. Your longing for " the newborn, or the cheeky toddler girl, or teenager" will happen for you again--it's called grandchildren. In many ways they become just as precious to you as your own children.

  10. Aww, love this. It's so good to have people that have "been there, done that" so I know that the whiney stage that I'm in right now does pass :)

  11. Joyce,

    Loved the fairy tale version versus the real world reality of what raising kids is truly like. You have magically captured it all here.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  12. Wow. Wonderful, heart-felt writing, Joyce. You've, no doubt, put into words what many a mother has felt and feels through the years of child-raising.
    You have such a way with words. Thank you.

  13. So, so good Joyce. And just what I needed this week.

  14. That even though they are not in a crib in the next room but instead are hundreds of miles away they still have the ability to wake me up in the middle of the night.

    I won't mind any more then than I don't mind now. I think I look forward to it, just to know that the cord is stretched but not broken.

  15. Can I get a hanky alert next time, please???

  16. Parenting is such a journey of discovery...as you have written so wonderfully here. Thanks!

  17. Another great post! I really enjoy reading your blog, your insights, your memories, your dreams. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Lovely post. My boys are still young but I can dream too. I hope they will always feel like they can come to me no matter what.

  19. I am facing the teen years right now. It is much different than I imagined, but I know the day will come when they won't be under the same roof and I miss them already.

    Wonderfully written post, Joyce.

  20. This is beautiful and so true. You have been blessed with what you have experienced and God has been good to you.

  21. Joyce you nailed it. As one in this same stage , I can say you have expressed my heart. Thanks. Kleenex time.

  22. I made it down to "the quiet darkness of an empty house" before I totally lost it. I am the mother of a 7-year-old and a 16-year-old...and the teenager just got his driver's license three days ago. I don't think I've stopped crying since then. I know the day is coming when he is not going to be under my roof, and that day is coming even quicker than I'd like.

    Thanks for writing this.