When I was younger I had big, exciting dreams about all of the remarkable things that would happen to me in my life. Every crazy chance I took was another chapter in what would surely become my best-selling memoirs. I dried my eyes after every failed romance, and felt sure new possibility was always just around the corner. I drove thousands of miles in my rattle-trap car going nowhere in particular and anywhere at all but alway sure I was heading somewhere amazing.
After I had my first kid I realized I didn't dream in quite the same way anymore. I had adventures and thrills to be sure, but not of the hare-brained "leap before you look" variety. Kids taught me to be cautious, to be sensible, to be measured. This was not a bad thing, to be sure, it was a necessary step in my development, but it was a befuddling step for me to make.
Tonight I went to the memorial service for a three year old boy. He drowned in a backyard pool in just 4 feet of water. His older brother and sister are so sad and confused. His poor parents are bereaved and shaken and sick with hurt. His grandparents are longing for the little life they had only just begun to know. His teachers are grief-stricken. The entire community came out tonight. I saw people I know only by sight, what you might call a "nodding acquaintance" bowed and wracked by grief. Other parents that held their preschoolers a little tighter in the crowd. One mother was just quietly sobbing as her little girl, obviously a classmate of the child's, kept saying, "Look Mommy, there's M!" as she pointed to the pictures scrolling on the overhead screens. Such a short, small life. A tiny flame snuffed out, blown out, gone in just a moment; in just a breath.
My dreams are different now. I want nothing remarkable. I want an ordinary life. I want to cook for my kids and make Halloween costumes, and drive them to dance class. I want stupid yelling fights with them at age 13. I want sleep-overs and gossip and driving lessons and prom. I want to talk about their majors in college. I want to know what their favorite books are and listen to their favorite music and meet their significant others. I want vacations and dinners and phone calls and letters. I want grandchildren and visits and Thanksgivings and to see who they become. I want to die an old woman, in my sleep, knowing that my kids are okay. That seems to me to be the best dream, the only one worth having.