“How do you like it?” She asked expectantly. “Being a stay-at-home mom has always been my dream, but everyone tells me that I am crazy.”
The young barista stared at me from the window of the coffee shop waiting for an answer; I looked away, suddenly feeling embarrassed. I had been complaining about how tired I was and how hard my day had been, a day spent being a stay-at-home mom.
It had been my dream too.
I used to be her, just out of high school, working at a coffee shop, dreaming about starting a family and spending all day raising my kids.
For a second, I envied her. She was barely an adult, body un-touched by pregnancy, hair and outfit thought out and neatly put together. She could go home after her shift and relax if she wanted to, maybe marathon a show on Netflix. She could go out with her friends spontaneously and stay up late.
She was responsible for only herself, she seemed weightless and free.
I miss those days, sometimes.
But when I was like her, single without a care in the world, all I wanted was to find the right guy.
I didn’t let myself fully enjoy the time I had to be on my own, away from my little hometown, outside of my parent’s house. I didn’t fully grasp that this would be the only time in my life that it was just me.
I should have spent that time growing and making memories, but instead I spent it on an endless prowl for the “One”, I needed him to really start my life, to begin my dream.
A month before I turned 21, I found my man; I was infatuated from the start.
We fell in love pretty quickly and instead of soaking in the time I had to simply date and get to know him, I sat around wondering when he would pop the question. Once he “finally” proposed, I was so excited for the wedding.
My engagement was yet another time that I would never be able to return to and it was overshadowed by my desire to move onto the next step. I practically couldn’t sit still until I finally made that anticipated walk down the aisle.
As soon as we got back from the honeymoon, I started looking forward to the next big thing: Babies.
The little ones came quicker than even I could have imagined. We had barely even finished finding places in our new home to put our wedding gifts when we found out I was pregnant. Sadly, just as quickly as the pregnancy had surprised us, we lost it.
To our disbelief, a month later, we were blessed again and this time it stuck! Our sweet, blue-eyed boy came into our lives exactly one month after the first anniversary of our wedding.
Only 3 months after our son was born, after watching me spend most of the evening in the bathroom, my friend convinced me to go buy a pregnancy test, just to rule it out.
Those pink lines showed up instantly, and we were shocked to find out that we were expecting, again! (Yes, we know what caused it, but thanks for asking.) Just one week after our oldest son turned 1, his precious little brother joined our humble home. Just like that, after being married for 2 short years, we were a family of 4.
And here we are. That was fast.
You would think that by now I would stop trying to hurry life along and that I would stop to smell the baby powder, but no, all I smell are dirty diapers and spoiled milk.
I find myself looking forward to the time when my kids will take themselves potty, no more dirty diapers or waking up in the middle of the night to change their bedding. I can’t wait until they can get themselves up each morning and pour their own cereal.
Oh, how glorious the day will be when I can shower without worrying they are pouring laundry soap all over the house, or when I can pee with the door closed.
What is wrong with me?
As I sat there in my car, the barista’s question still hanging in the air, I was convicted.
I couldn’t believe how long I had been living this way, how long I had let myself go through life desiring to be somewhere else, doing something else. How often do I thank the Lord for everything He has given me, how often do I just stop and think of how blessed I am?
I am living the dream right now, my dream.
Someday, when my kids are grown, a young mother will ask me how I am enjoying the empty nest and regaining all of my freedom. She will tell me how she is tired and how she doesn’t want to look at another dirty diaper or hear another cry in the night.
I will envy her, I will think of this sweet time I am in right now, when I had it all, when I was living the dream and I didn’t even know it.
So for now, I will stop saying I can’t wait.
I will cling to the time I have and embrace every beautiful, fleeting second. I will acknowledge every day that this is the time I have dreamed of my entire life, it is all I have ever wanted. One day, I will want it all back- the time I wished away.
Today, in front of a little coffee shop, a simple question changed my heart.
I blinked back a tear and turned to look at the girl still waiting for an answer,
“Staying home with my kids is my dream too, but I often take it for granted. It is amazing. Enjoy every minute of your life from now until then, the future will be here before you know it and you can’t get the past back.”
She smiled and handed me my coffee. As I drove off I thought to myself,
“I hope she takes my advice…I wouldn’t have.”