I’ve had to say goodbye to a few dreams. In fact, I’ve come to realize that I’ve had to let some dreams die that I didn’t even know existed.
First, the dream of pregnancy and birthing a baby. That one was a big one for me. That dream has never actually died. I wonder sometimes if that dream came true how that child would or would not change my perspective or relationship with my kiddos. The chances of that dream ever materializing continue to decrease year by year, but that dream has not died…
The dream of a picture perfect family. Now, I would have told you that there is no such thing, but what I expected to eventually have and what I’ve got, are, well… they just don’t match up. I guess it’s similar to the girl who has fairy tale dreams in her head of married life, and instead ends up with reality. She would have told you she knew her husband wouldn’t be perfect either, but the expectations were still higher than could be reasonably achieved by anyone.
And I guess it’s funny I say that – most people look at my family and see “picture perfect.” But that is only when we are all together. As soon as my children step out of my sight, they have absolutely no attachment to at least 50% of what makes my husband and I tick. They don’t have any intrinsic motivation for the values that we hold. They continually sink to the lowest standard in the room, often creating it themselves if no one else’s is low enough. They are often unkind, disrespectful, and have no concern for the interests of anyone around them. This kills me. I never consciously dreamed about my children holding my values, it was something I always took for granted would happen naturally. It didn’t. Or at least it hasn’t yet. My oldest is probably the closest to an exception – I’m holding on to hope that things may still get better in the future.
The dream of my children internalizing my values (see above), work ethic, and core beliefs. Again – these were not spoken dreams, these are dreams that were just taken for granted in my mind and assumed. But as it hasn’t happened, I’m now faced with this reality. It is jarring and uncomfortable and causes a lot of tension in our home. I’m quite upset much more often than is healthy. It’s not good.
Let’s just take work ethic as an example. Clean dishes. We wash some things, and the rest go in the dishwasher. We take turns doing different chores, so most of them have had dishwashing as a regular chore at least a couple times. When I was there age we didn’t have a dishwasher – my kids have it so easy. So I showed them how to wash – in general and specific dishes as well as lessons were needed. I literally typed up step-by-step instructions to help them remember all those little things (use hot water, wipe the counter down when done, look at each dish before putting it in the drainer to make sure it’s actually clean….). I was tired of repeating myself so I’d tell them to read the list before they walked away. They’d read it – and not do a thing on it. I’d walk past the drainer not even thinking about dishes and a huge piece of food would compel me to call the child to return and actually clean the dish – with much anguish on both our parts, me from frustration at them not doing a decent job and them at being bothered to do a completed job again. Because of course they felt like they’d done it already and so should never touch it again. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reminded them that I don’t care how many times they run the sponge over the dish, they aren’t done until it’s clean. I don’t care how many times they run the rag over the counter, they aren’t done until it is actually clean. It doesn’t matter how many times the broom touched the floor, they aren’t done until there is no more dirt.
We continue to have these same conversations. Conversations we’ve been having for well over four years, with some children closer to six. It is beyond my comprehension that I am still trying to instill a work ethic and sense of pride in a job well done into my young teenagers. No, they weren’t with me as babies, but really? Because they missed this kind of instruction in the first 1, 2, 4, or 7 years of life, they’ll never get it? Really? I just can’t accept that! But my reality is not changing. Not at all.
And now I sit here, on the edge of insanity. Is this dream supposed to die? For the sake of my sanity should I stop caring about how clean my mixing bowls are when I grab them from the cupboard? Should I stop trying to instill my work ethic into my children? Should I just accept the fact that they just don’t see dirt? Ever? Oh, when I wake up to the tranquility of a quiet house and eventually make my way down to start breakfast and am enjoying the peace of being the only one about…and I pull out a dirty dish!??!! It shatters my peace. I can’t wash it for them – they need to learn to be responsible. I can’t wake them up too early – they need their sleep and I need my quiet time! So I am just left with annoyance and trying to find another dish that will serve the same purpose.
I feel like so many of these unspoken dreams are now coming to my conscious, and I am in a constant state of grief. But not the grief that comes with death. No. The grief that comes with mourning something that is taken away from you, but still there technically. Like perhaps someday these dreams can come true, which keeps them alive. But the reality is that they aren’t coming true. And if I knew for sure they’d never come true then could I, perhaps, move on and accept my reality? But no, I grieve with hope, which is pretty much a type of torture I don’t enjoy and is a recipe for discontent.
I guess I’ll just end this rant here. I don’t even have advice for myself on this one. Often I feel like I know what to do but am a failure at actually doing it. Here? I have no idea. Let it die? Or work to make my dreams come true?