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I was on the phone yesterday with a friend who’s known me a long time, although we’ve only ever seen each other here and there since we were 19-year-old summer missionaries together.
Those 19-year-old girls didn’t have boyfriends, although they would both start dating their future husbands within months. They didn’t know much … or knew everything, as most teenagers do. But they were both fully convinced they wanted to be mothers, stay-at-home ones.
We dreamed of having many small children, getting together to play Scrabble with our husbands as our kids worked puzzles and played with dolls on the floor. We dreamed of frilly Sunday dresses, growing baby bellies, and playing ring around the rosey.
My friend has two children, a girl and then a boy, just like my first two. Our daughters were actually due on the exact same day, although hers hung out in the womb a little longer than Libbie. She’s not quite as nuts as I am; her son is 6 months or so younger than my David.
And as we chatted yesterday about whiny, arguing siblings, how her husband was away for work and she was single parenting, and how exhausted we both are, she said, “I just keep telling myself, I’m living my dream!”
It seems like another world and another lifetime that I was a single teen in college. Lately, melting under the exhaustion of having three children, I’ve dreamed of going back to those days. I actually told my sister last week that I would like to go back, just for an hour, to swoon over the male a capella group, eat Ben and Jerry’s at The Cellar, laugh with my best friend.
It’s hard to remember that back then, this was my dream. Marriage. Kids. Writing.
It’s easy to want what we don’t have.
My friend and I both confessed that now our dream is sleeping. A lot.
So many older women have told me that this time when the kids are tiny is the best time. The time I will long for when I am fully gray. And often I think, “Really? When all they do is fight and scream and ask me for everything and I change diapers and I don’t sleep?”
But in the back of my mind, I get it. I’m pretty sure it’s true. The looming years of their own teenagerhoods frighten me more than crazy accidents or throwing broccoli on the floor.
After waking him up from his nap today, I scooped David into my arms and just held him. It’ll seem like minutes until he won’t let me do that. I breathed in his scent – peanut butter from lunch today – and kissed his head and rubbed his back until he wriggled away.
This is the dream. And I am grateful for it.