Have you ever had a dream that feels so real that when you wake up you have to wonder if it was a dream? That happened to me the other night, and it’s still sitting heavy with me.
In my dream, I was at an amusement park, which is not one of my favorite places to be in real life. I don’t love rides or crowds of sweating people and junk food and nonstop noise, so it’s not a place I totally love. I was on a ride in my dream, and I looked over and saw my son who was on a different ride with someone else.
He was looking over at me with such a sweet smile. In real life, sure, he’s sweet, but he and I butt heads constantly because of his sharp 9-year-old, boy-ego tongue and sass. In the dream, though, he was just looking at me serenely and waving from across the park as I was being moved up and down on the ride I was on in slow motion.
Then, even though in the dream it would have been impossible to hear him speak since he was not on the same ride as me, I heard his voice tell me, “Mama, I know you don’t like being here, but try to slow down and appreciate these days more. I’ll be grown up soon, and you’ll miss it.”
The dream still chokes me up with how real it felt and the weight of the message.
We’ve all heard from older folks to “enjoy these days--they go fast” in regards to raising children, and I get it. I do my best to slow down and savor these days, but the dang truth is that it gets to be grueling, exhausting and defeating.
We can be Hallmark about it and say it’s all glorious and rewarding, but it’s not, at least not in my world. Raising kids and day-to-day life in general can sweep me away into a place where I feel like I have no idea if I’m doing anything right, and I find myself worn down, unable to step back and enjoy the gift of it all because I’m so busy examining the imperfections.
In my dream, my son was telling me to literally and figuratively enjoy the ride, and he was right. I need to sit back and just take it all in--the scary parts, the annoying parts, the parts that make me laugh so hard I could cry--just like at an amusement park and let the good parts carry more worth than the hard parts.
My kids’ childhood will be over before I know it, so I need to give this my all. It doesn’t mean I need to give them more things or become a helicopter parent to absorb every last minute. It means I need to check my grumpiness at the door.
Less getting annoyed when they get on my last nerve and more brushing it off and enjoying them.
Less wishing my husband and I had a child together and more celebrating the fact that our blended family is unique, hilarious and full of authentic love because of our love.
More of loving where I am in life instead of always looking ahead to tomorrow because tomorrow comes fast enough without my anticipating it.
Less regretting the past because that train wreck brought us to this awesome day.
As I write this, my daughter and step-daughter are outside chatting happily together. My son and step-son are out with my husband fixing a part on our camper. I feel like an idiot for ever complaining about how life is not exactly as I wish it were because the truth is, it’s better than I could have imagined.
I know the dream I had the other night will fade and the lesson will be lost on me some days, but I want to do my best to remember it to encourage me to slow down and enjoy the ride instead of complaining about the parts that are hard. Having challenges means we’re alive, and I want to feel that big time each day.
And the harsh reality is that one day, this day--in real life--will feel like a dream, and I'll wonder where the time went.