I had always seen my dream very clearly. In fact, when I was eleven or twelve I kept a notebook called my "future book." It was a book of blueprints for my house, names for my kids, and plans for how I wanted to decorate my home, the kinds of meals I wanted to cook, how I wanted my days to go. My future book made some naive assumptions about things like money. As in, we'd have it. Not that I ever wanted to live like Paris Hilton, but I didn't exactly picture myself as Oliver Twist, either.
Fast forward to two summers ago. I wanted a baby. Badly. I had a growing case of anger and frustration and jealousy. Why? Because it wasn't fair that we couldn't have a baby just because my hardworking husband and I couldn't scrape together enough money for a bigger apartment, let alone a house. Heck, if I were to quit working we couldn't even afford the apartment we were living in. We had done all of the "right" things - we worked our way through college without loans, got the best jobs we could in a free-falling economy, and lived on a budget that would put Dave Ramsey himself to shame. I felt the clock ticking. I was angry that having a baby was about having money. And then one day, I realized that it isn't. It took me a few months to let go of a sense of irresponsibility - I had bought into the idea that it was irresponsible to have a child if we didn't already have our financial ducks in the row that everyone else seemed to think they should be in. But at last, I let that piece of my dream go. So we didn't have a house. Oh, well, what I really wanted was a family.
Without giving the whole convoluted backstory, in April 2012, the Wednesday before Easter, I found out we were finally expecting. And homeless. And I didn't have a job. And Brian was still only employed seasonally. And we didn't have insurance. Gulp. Not exactly how I pictured it! But we managed. We spent most of my pregnancy moving from one relative's basement to another and finally got a great deal on a tiny apartment. We moved in two and a half months before Caleb was born. Brian landed a job one and a half months before Caleb was born. And I worked part time until the day I went into labor.
Becoming a parent was a trip, but if you are one, you already know that and if you aren't one, there's nothing I can say to really convey what it felt like. Suffice it to say, the transition into motherhood is not soft and feminine and motherly the way I expected. In fact, becoming a mother has redefined the word "feminine" for me. So there went another piece of my dream - the soft, clean, controlled, pulled-together vision I had for myself went out the window with my birth plan. But, after all, my dream isn't to be soft, clean, controlled and pulled-together. My dream is to have a family.
And now I am faced with the loss of another piece of my dream. You see, in my dream I don't work outside the home. I really thought that was at the heart of my dream. I thought my dream was to be a stay at home mom. I actually thought that was the "sacrifice" part. In fact, it was a point of pride for me that I would rather scrimp and save and live without so I could stay home with my kids. But it looks like for now, that isn't to be. I don't get to spend my days in my vegetable garden or my kitchen. I have to go grocery shopping at dinner time while feeding Caleb a "pouch" and chowing down a Cliff bar, and I see my husband for twenty minutes when we transition between who is going to work. But I guess, after all, my dream isn't to grow vegetables or cook casseroles. This piece is a really hard one to let go of, but my dream is to have a family, and if I have to answer phones and file paperwork so my family can eat, then you better believe I will.
I believe God's not just out there, but that he is so close to me that he can read my thoughts - and he cares. I believe that my dreams came from him as a gift and clues about what to do with my life. I also believe that he's God, and if he wants to he could wave his finger and fix all of this but that he's choosing not to. I don't know for sure why he has stripped away so many pieces of my dream, but I have a guess. I think he's making a reduction of sorts. He is intensifying the flavor and viscosity of my dream. All of the excess water is being boiled away, leaving only the purest, most beautiful and true character of my dream. Maybe someday I'll get to stay at home and my husband will have a 9 to 5 job and I'll have a vegetable garden and chickens and matching Tupperware. But if not, at least I know that I have the best part, the very heart of my dream - I have a family.