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Living the Dream {Six Word Memoirs}

Living the dream. Six minute memoirs

I recently reached out to a friend after a series of particularly difficult days. No one issue led to my writing her…I just needed to share my burden with someone who I knew would care. Someone in the trenches herself. Someone who wasn’t likely to offer me a way to fix it…and she didn’t. The words she wrote brought tears to my eyes the day I read them, and again today as I share them with you. This is just a small snippet of what she wrote, but they are words that I am sure many of you need to hear right now.

“There is this picture I had/have in my head of what the kids’ childhoods would look like. And though not perfect, they would be different…I hurt for you because though our circumstances are different, we are going through the same thing and it sucks. It isn’t like what we want for the kids is bad. It isn’t like I want to going around kicking puppies or anything. I want this good lovely wonderful thing for these kids and my family but for some reason, God has other plans for them. And that is super frustrating. It’s hard knowing how long and hard to fight for that good noble thing, and when it’s time to give it up for something different, something that seems to us less than ideal.”

My friend’s words were spot on and I realized some (though not all) of my struggles came from me. From the vision I had in my head, the storyline I had laid out for myself to follow: husband, lots of kids, homebirth, breastfeeding homeschooling. All of these things have happened. I suppose it is my kids’ childhoods that have veered off course the most. I never imagined I would have to ask my 10-year-old to call 911 as I worked on his choking brother; fearing he was about to die in my arms. I never imagined my teens and preteens would tube feed a brother or lie awake at night, listening for him to breathe, worried that he might stop at any moment. I never pictured life and school and birthdays interrupted by dozens and dozens of trips to a hospital 100 miles away. I never imagined mothering children who have survived a war. Children who walked mile after mile in the night, escaping enemy soldiers. Children who have gone to be hungry night after night.

I never imagined how the emotional struggles of my special needs children would wear on my typical children. I never imagined the raging and screaming. I never imagined having a teen approach me and ask, “Mom, is {sibling} allowed to run away?” I didn’t envision trips to psychologists and psychiatrists and I certainly wasn’t the type of mother who would give her child DRUGS for behavioral or emotional issues. Nope. We would provide love and routine and rules and wholesome food. Add in the love of Jesus and what more could a child, any child, need?

Add in the love of Jesus and what more could a child, any child, need?

A lot as it turns out. Heart surgery and counseling and medication and public school. MRI’s and CT scans and EEGs and EKGs. Feeding tubes and breathing treatments and more surgeries and therapy.

The thing is, my kids, know no different. I am the one mourning the loss of their idealized childhood. They haven’t spent years cultivating the dream of the Perfect Homeschool Family in their heads. They haven’t read the script so firmly established in my own mind. The childhood where we take leisurely walks in the warm sunshine, discussing various plants and wildlife. The childhood where we spend long afternoons painting and creating art. The childhood where we eat from the bounty of our garden and enjoy homemade bread with dinner each evening. This is

This is my dream. Not theirs.

My children are busy growing and learning. They are making friends and getting jobs and experiencing the world around them. They enjoy the diversions from our routine whether it is a trip to the library, the zoo, the beach, swimming or ice skating. In the amazing way children have, they enjoy each moment to its fullest. They reminisce fondly as they look through our family photo albums. They are writing their own script.

Have you heard of six word memoirs? I am a writer, so from the moment I first heard about six-word memoirs, I was intrigued. And here’s mine:

Living the dream. Different than expected.

20 Comments

  1. vivian

    my dreams have changed as i have aged. i can only rely on God’s grace and mercy to keep me totally relying on Him to show me my path.
    I am way past children, so even into senior years, life is different than the dreams we had.
    you are doing a wonderful job–growing strong christian children. praying for you as you walk this part of your time of life.

  2. honestlyamy

    My theory is to keep the kid’s expectations low, so it is easy to please them, and they are not easily disappointed.
    My son asked for a bag of coleslaw for Christmas and my other son wants a pair of glasses frames…easy peasy!

  3. Leah y

    Wow. This is spot on. This is exactly what I needed. Today, yesterday and for quite a few weeks before that. My dream of my kids childhood had been completely changed and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I was feeling like I was grieving. This is exactly why. It’s nothing that I envisioned. And they don’t even know it. Maybe now I can actually do something about this loss as I have finally figured out what it was.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thank you for sharing that Leah. That is exactly the epiphany I gained from my friend…it is my dream, not my kids. They don’t feel like they are “missing out” or that I’ve failed…

  4. The Offense Of Joy

    Bravely learning delight, by letting go.

    = That may be mine right now.

    This was really moving to me, Renee. Thank you for being so vulnerable. (I can relate to what you wrote even more after some events today.)

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thank you Misha, but your post inspired my post 🙂 I hope all is well with you and your lovely family.

  5. 2busyannie

    I have had the same grief and loss here too. I was an awesome homeschool mom to my first two, even bought curriculum to teach calculus to first graders. Until acronyms entered our life, like FASD, RAD, PTSD, and ODD, and those were followed by brain surgery, psychiatry, and medication. The screaming started and ten plus years later there is still screaming, although not as much as before. And I am not the fun homeschool mom I always envisioned myself to be. I am too busy driving here and there for school pick-ups and drop-offs, appointments, monitoring behaviors, turning door alarms on and off. Who has time for read-alouds and field trips, art class or calculus for kids? I fall asleep when I read out loud. Trouble is, in our house, some of the children remember the way it used be and they mourn that with me too. They miss the fun mom.

  6. bemis

    Wow, thanks for this. It’s so true. I only have very young children (3 and under), but I realize I’ve already planned the idealized childhood for my kids. And yet, I should have already realized that things rarely turn out the way I’ve planned them too–I know the feeling of thinking your child is about to die in your arms and your other child(ren) watching as the ambulance whisks his sibling away. And wondering if your children are going to be okay…not the normal wonderings of a mom in usual circumstances, but the worry over a child born way to early, or who has been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease or birth defect. I’m past the point of that sort of worry right now (I thank God for that, but know it could change too), but there are still circumstances that make me wonder why things are the way they are.

    And then I’m reminded of the things I love to remember that I’m sure were NOT part of my parents’ plan for our ideal childhood…including being well-known in our small town for the number of times my siblings and I ended up in the emergency room for broken bones, stitches, appendectomies and the like.

    My six word memoir was actually what I decided during college would make an excellent epitaph. I think it still applies:

    Enjoyed life. Died. Still enjoying life.

  7. Cecily spencer

    Thank you, Just thank you. I went looking for a blog years ago for these very reasons and because everyone else’s life seemed to look the way I wanted mine to look. Only they didn’t have special needs kids or kids with traumatic pasts and brain damage. Your blog has helped me not feel alone. thank you.

  8. sarah

    Great post. I am not the best at communicating though writting. 🙂 I really look up to you because of the attitude you have with the hardships you face. You do a wonderful job of finding the positive. Even this post, which I greatly relate to, has a beautiful outlook. Thanks for sharing this with all of “us “.

  9. brenda

    I understand having to let my dreams for my children die and to trust that God is faithful to finish what he started. Never guessed how our adopted children and our family would be affected by ADHD, PTSD, RAD, bipolar, and borderline personality and then having to work so hard to help family members to understand and not shun these children. I went back to college to have a better understanding and now work with families with children like mine. Even this week I found myself comforting parents because of the lose of “normal” kids and the guilt a parent can carry for feeling they are not enough to meet the needs of their children. Churches and fellow Chrstians can be very judgmental and hurtful. More compassion, empathy, and love need to be shown. I’m grateful for the ones who are learning jow to be a help to families like ours.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thank you for sharing Brenda. I suppose this is just one more thing God is teaching me through my children.

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