Broken dreams

Every once in a while I hear from women who gave up something to have children. They lament about a postponed European trip or maybe a successful career long ago set aside in favor of Sesame Street and covert ways to get kids to drink milk without chocolate in it.

I feel their pain. I love Marc and our kids, but let’s not pretend that a woman with a family can have it all. Most of the time, in order to preserve our sanity and strength, we “gracefully surrender the things of youth.” Unfortunately that includes low-cut dresses, back tattoos, and a few hopes and dreams.

For example,

I will never, ever, have a clean floor.

I’ve always wanted to live in a clean house. It’s a simple dream really. Yet middle age brought with it seasonal allergies and my kids suffer as well. We were told that rugs and carpets hide more dust mites than Mumbai at sundown. So we moved into a home that has wooden floors and I stroke out at least once a week trying to keep them clean. It’s a losing battle.

Then I started walking like a ninety-year old.

“You need a cane, old man?” Marc asked.

My kids started walking funny, too. Physical therapists suggested we all wear two sets of sneakers: one for inside and another outside.

“Are you trying to drive me insane?” I asked her. “Do you want to see me in bed with a round- the-clock morphine and Paxil drip? Boys need to be reminded to flush, wash, and blow. They’d never remember to take off outside shoes before coming in or remove inside shoes before leaving.”

My life is stressful enough. I told my boys to keep shoes on all the time and I’d mop every day until I’m dead – in my sneakers.

I will never, ever, have an FBI file.

This was always my biggest dream. Anyone who is anyone has an FBI file. I wanted to overthrow governments in third-world countries, free every zoo animal in North America, and chain myself to at least one member of Soundgarden.

Instead, I fell in love with a Jew ‘fro and agreed to reproduce. It took all my energy just trying to do Downward Dog in yoga without busting anything.

I will never, ever, go anywhere with ease.

Remember when you could pack your life into a tote the size of a ziplock bag, throw it around your shoulder, adjust several crystal necklaces and take off for the week?

I remember taking my kids on a road trip for two hours when they were eleven, and carrying two bags filled with:

– Gluten-free crackers

– Hummus

– Peanut butter for those who couldn’t stand hummus (read: Zachary)

– Inhalers

– Benadryl

– Books for the fourth time they say they were bored

– Grapes

– Apples – because “not everyone likes grapes, Mommy.” (Guess who?)

– Wet wipes

– Hand sanitizer

– 3 canteens

– Enough Tylenol to get me home.

These are my own broken dreams.

Don’t dismiss them or scoff. I’m not judging you or your crying jags, while clutching a bikini that will never again see the light of day.

We all had to give up something.

Now pass the Tylenol.