My kids are in their late 30s. I had them young. Probably too young, because I wasn’t prepared for the daily energy level you had to maintain. Most of the time I was a single mom….even when I was married. I married because I thought I was in love, but as I look back I know I didn’t even know what that was.
Through the years I wondered about a comparison study that compares the emotional well being of adults that had been raised by young people vs. seasoned adults with all their senses about them. I doubted myself as a parent everyday…always felt like I wasn’t giving enough, but that’s pretty much how I felt about everything I did back then.
Between working full time and trying to be a mom that was better than the one I had, I was usually tired. Although I was going through the motions physically, I always had a daydream running through my head.
I was a city girl in my daydreams. I lived alone, but had a large network of friends. Between a robust social life and the stimulating career that I would have, I was never alone, never bored and incredibly fulfilled. I would have a well appointed home. A home that was always exactly as I left it. If I knew then what I know now, my secret life existing only in my mind, would have included a dog. I would still love to cook, and there would always be a perfect dessert made awaiting for me at the end of a long day. My return home would include changing into some cute lounge wear and as I padded across the clean kitchen floor, free of the hardened stuck to the floor Cheerios, I would cut a single serving of the perfect sweet treat onto a beauriful dessert plate and relax in front of the TV to enjoy my dessert and reflections of the day.
This was all quiet a contrast to my life.
Of course, I never acted upon my fantasy life….I knew it wasn’t in the cards I was dealt. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children like no one I had ever loved before or even since their birth. Even though they are now in their late thirty’s, I feel more connected to them than ever and have the fierceness of a mother bear when it comes to protecting them.
Now fate has brought me a life I didn’t envision for myself. I live halfway across the country from my kids, my husband travels extensively for work and I no longer have to work for a living. I am free to dabble at finding my fulfillment and I still love to cook, but have trouble with the quantities….I’m a visual cook and seem to end up with enough to feed 8 even though I now cook for 2. My husband and I move every couple of years, so there’s always a new town to explore or and a new town to research for our arrival.
One night as I came home late, since my husband was out of town, I changed into my lounge wear (it was a close 2nd to perfect) and watched my feet pad across the floor to cut myself one perfect square of the chocolate brownie that was awaiting my return. I carefully put the square of brownie on the plate, returned the pan of brownies to its designated resting place and headed for the living room with an accompanying cup of tea.
The unmistakeable feeling of dejavu struck me. But wait! This wasn’t what my secret daydream felt like in my head so many years ago. This felt lonely and miserable.
As most of us have experienced, you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone. I wish now on my quiet nights that I would have relished every moment of the chaos that was my life and helped to turn it into memories my kids would have forever. They talk about funny and happy childhood memories, but I wish I would have done more to ensure their memories. Now, I count the days till they visit and relish every text, email, video shot, and even snail mail any of the grandkids send. In spite of my secret life as somebody’s wife, my kids turned out to be great parents, good citizens and warm and loving people. I enjoy being in their presence and hearing what they have to say on any topic.
My own childhood memories are something I struggle with … my mother was abusive and I don’t have any warm or happy moments to remember. Even in my early years I knew I just had to be better than my own mother. i mistakenly thought this was for the welfare of my children…i didnt realize till much much later, this was for me too.
As the holidays roll around, I am planning for their next visit. We all stand around the kitchen and chat while I cook…..this, THIS is the life I should have been dreaming about.