Sunday, May 8, 2011

Everything I Never Knew I Wanted

I remember as a little girl sitting with my cousins, Dawn and Christina, and we'd pretend and pretend and pretend about what life was going to be when we grew up. We played Barbie, hide and seek, and a whole host of other things. With all of that, the game that stands out most in my mind was playing house in their basement. It seems like we played house down there for hours on end. We imagined all sorts of scenarios. I think I even remember pulling out Olivia Newton John records and dancing our cute little hearts out to "Let's Get Physical" and then the Madonna record that had our other favorite song, "Material Girl". We were fully prepared to grow up and be famous dancers or rock stars...or something. Dawn and Christina had been in some dance classes, so they even had all the fancy outfits to dance in with tons of sequins. I think I might even remember some kind of blue head band thing with a rather large feather sticking out of it. At any rate, suffice it to say we were really good at pretending together.

As we grew up, our "when I grow up" dreams changed a little. We were too big to pretend anymore, and I guess it wasn't something we talked about much, so I can't say I know for sure what they wanted to be "when they grew up". I can say that I thought I knew exactly what I wished to become.

I knew I loved the theater. I had a high school drama coach who got theater into my blood, and there was no turning back. I especially loved technical theater, but I really enjoyed acting too. (Just, please for the love of all that's good in the world, do NOT ask me to sing). I wanted to work somewhere in show business, I thought. I didn't particularly care where. I spent some time studying technical theater in college and the business end of it really sucked the fun right out, so I knew I wanted to do something different when I grew up and save theater as a fun hobby.

Ultimately, I got my associates degree in interpersonal communications and my bachelor in Social Work, but have spent the majority of my time teaching pre-school or doing autism therapy. As I got older and busier with "real life", I guess I stopped thinking about what I wanted to be when I grow up. It didn't really occur to me until today that I have everything I never knew I wanted.

I'm not that famous theater person I thought I'd be. I don't drive a fancy car and have lovely jewelry. I don't know one single famous person that I can name drop for you. Not one. To suggest that my wardrobe is humble would be an understatement. I only have about two (maybe three) pairs of shoes and one less than stellar purse. There is nothing fancy about my home nor anything spectacular about my yard. My nails aren't well manicured, and my hair spends the majority of the time up in a pony tail. If it's ever left down, it likely has some strange sticky substance in it lovingly placed there by one of my five children. My make-up collection consists of some lip gloss, eye liner, and mascara. I do have some lipstick that I reserve for "special occasions". I don't have the title of director, doctor, therapist, or Nobel prize winner. My title is just three little letters that you can spell the same way backwards and forward. Mom. Quite honestly, I live a rather simple life that really isn't likely much to talk about in the eyes of others.

Somehow, though, I realized today that I have everything I could ever wish for. If I found a star to wish upon right this very moment, I'd have stand in silence as there isn't a thing I can imagine that I am without. Instead of all the fancy stuff I thought I wanted in my youth, I have gifts that can't be purchased anywhere else in the world. They are the finest gifts of all.

I have sticky finger prints on almost every window in the house. I have french fries on the floor of my van and stickers carefully placed on my van window after many harrowing pediatrician visits. I have bags under my eyes from more sleepless nights spent consoling a crying baby than I can count. I have broken finger nails and dishpan hands from washing dish after dish after dish full of chicken nugget dip and barely touched vegetables. I have toothpaste smears all over my bathroom sink each night after five little mouths have been not so carefully brushed with "bubble mint" Buzz Lightyear toothpaste. I have boogers crusted on my shoulders where a child laid his head for reassurance after falling and scraping his knee or having had his heart broken by a friend. I have little tiny hand prints all over my butt from giant spirits who are trapped in tiny little bodies running up and hugging me forgetting they'd just eaten ice cream...or yogurt...or a chocolate bar...or pudding...or, well you get the idea. I have a mountain of laundry that I doubt I'll ever really find the bottom of. That mountain is loaded with stains that will likely never come out but represent hours of laughing and giggling as little people played chase and constantly fell on the grass staining their knees or chocolate smears all down the front of a beloved shirt that happened to be worn at the same time we spontaneously decided we needed chocolate sundaes. I have toys strewn from one end of the house to the other, each representing a silly game or even perhaps a game of make believe just as I used to play with my cousins. I have stacks of first grade homework and the non-stop chatter of a fifth grader who just has to tell me all the latest cafeteria gossip right now or he's just going to burst. Instead of fine art gallery art, I have a lovely collection of hand-drawn rainbows and misproportioned drawings of "me" lovingly hung on the refrigerator. I have a plastic sippy cup on my counter with the lid removed so that the bouquet of freshly picked dandilions will have just the right vase to sit in as they grace my counter top.

The list could go on and on because, really, I have it all. My children know they are loved, even though they sometimes question it when some "completely unfair" rule is enforced. (I only wish they could know how much more it pains me to enforce rules than it hurts them to have a consequence inflicted). I have children who know how to laugh, how to pray, and how to love. I have taught them who God is. I have shown them that they can be anything they want to be. I have a husband who loves me more than words can say and sacrifices his whole self for our family on an almost daily basis. Indeed, I would contend that I am the richest woman in the world.

My life today is certainly not the picture of what I thought it would be all those years ago when I would play with Dawn and Christina and we would pretend what we would be when we grew up. It's not even the picture of what I thought it would be when I was in high school and was sure I had the world all figured out. I don't think it's even quite what I thought it would be the day I knelt across the alter and married the man of my dreams. It's better than all of those things.

Today, as Mother's Day comes to a close and my children cry because they're just sure they don't need to go to bed and they just can't bear to sleep without a certain beloved toy or are missing a favorite tv show, I am grateful beyond measure for it all. I can honestly say that I now have everything I never knew I wanted.

No comments: