When dreams are missing in action
Keeping yourself in mind when you’re a parent can be tough
Friday, December 19, 2008
I like Tyler Perry. I love his optimism, his love of life, his energy, his drive and his talent. He makes movies about people who look like me. I appreciate that.
The other day he was talking about dreams. He said you have to have dreams, that you can’t let them die. Sometimes I feel as if mine are on life support. Or worse, they’re M.I.A.
Often I feel as if I’ve lost my way. Maybe even lost an important part of myself. It’s been such a gradual thing I didn’t even realize it was happening.
I am a wife and a mother. I write, perform and do other things as well. But it’s motherhood that has been all encompassing. It’s joyous and frustrating. Exhilarating and draining. Like most mothers, I find myself putting my interests and wants on permanent hold. Why is it that we can’t ever strike a balance? Yet even as I ask that question I know the answer.
I love my children. They are beautiful to me. In many ways, they are the best part of me. They make me laugh—big, happy belly laughs. Other times I shed tears because of them. When one of them is hurt, it breaks my heart, too.
A year ago a good friend of ours lost her battle with cancer. Anita was a loving and gentle soul. She was one of those adults who really got children. She let them know that they mattered and that she was genuinely interested in what they had to say. My children adored her, especially my daughter Sydney.
The day Anita died, Sydney cried in my arms as we sat on the edge of the bed. I held her close, wishing I could have spared her this hurt, wishing we could have saved Anita. But there are some things you can’t protect your children from, no matter how deeply and fiercely you love them.
I share my children’s triumphs and happiness, too. A few months ago, my 5-year-old mastered riding his two-wheeler. We whooped with joy as he sped off down the sidewalk.
My youngest son now holds the door open for me, just like his father and brother. I try not to burst with pride when he says, "Momma, am I being a gentleman?"
And when my daughter sang clear and strong at Anita’s funeral, the sweetness of her song brought tears to my eyes. I know how hard that was for her. She was only 8 then, but she rose to the occasion.
Those are the moments that stay with you forever.
We are connected to our children in a way that goes beyond just flesh and blood. It’s something I never would have experienced had I not morphed into this multi-faceted creature my children call mother. I am teacher, coach, confidante, chauffeur, cook, housekeeper, beautician and nurse all rolled into one. Chaka surely had to be talking about mothers when she sang "I’m every woman. It’s all in me."
In my children, I see the very best of me. I am never more proud than when I see them mirror the love and care I lavish on them to others.
It’s a known fact that mothers keep a ready supply of Neosporin and Band-Aids on hand, that we hold our babies when they’re feverish or feeling sick, that if we could love the hurt away there would be no disease or injuries.
It’s reciprocal. If I’m hurt, my children rally around me. One day I had a migraine that took all the fight out of me. My daughter held my hand and made sure a lined trash can was ready if I couldn’t make it to the bathroom when the nausea hit. She checked on me faithfully until my husband arrived home to take over. My sons popped their heads in, too. "Mommy, are you OK," they asked. They put their hands on my forehead to help make the pain go away. Already they understand the healing power of touch.
All days are not perfect. Still, they are my angels even if their halos do slip from time to time or have a few dings as is the case with the angelic- looking baby of the family.
I thank God for the miracle of my children, for the joy and richness they have brought to my life, for the ability they’ve given me to see things with fresh, uncritical eyes.
It’s then I realize that maybe I haven’t lost my dreams after all. Perhaps they’ve just changed. And so have I.