I want to plant a garden.
I want to grow my own tomatoes and squash, cucumbers and beans. I want to see pretty little rows of lettuce and carrots sprouting up out of the ground. I want a garden for herbs: rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, cilantro, mint, lavender. I want to plant blueberry bushes and strawberries; I want to pick my own blackberries for my homemade berry tart.
I want a cutting garden, too. I want to plant more hydrangeas and roses. I want to help my lilacs fare better than they have in the past couple of years. I want enough flowers to adorn my mantles, tables, and window sills in the warm-weather months.
I want to keep my home always clean and comfortable and welcoming.
I want to cook everything from scratch. I want to use fresh, healthy ingredients. I want to learn how to bake bread. I want to try interesting recipes. I want to teach my boys to try new things and I want to reach my husband’s heart through his stomach.
I want to be always hospitable.
I want to invite others – families, couples, individuals – over to dinner on a regular basis. I want to show them that small kindness and I want to enjoy their good company. I want partners for the occasional game of cards. I want my boys to hear others’ stories and to tell our guests their own.
I want to throw holiday parties and birthday parties and just-because parties, and to be well-enough organized to experience more joy from them than I do stress.
I want to visit the ill and the elderly. I want to bring meals and homemade baked goods, to mail care packages and hand-written letters.
I want to involve myself in our school and town and parish communities. I want to get to know people, to help them, and to feel comfortable asking for help myself.
I want to get my boys involved too – maybe in 4-H or Boy Scouts or sports or music lessons, maybe in some combination thereof.
I want to spend one-on-one time with each of my children, reading to them, teaching them, being creative with them. I want to listen to them and answer their questions.
I want to write.
Dare I say, I want to be a writer? I want to write essays and articles, tributes and love notes. I want to reach people. I want to sit in the quiet and make sense of my thoughts through my fingers, tapping out words that slowly fill a blank screen.
I want to use my mind.
I want to organize events and lead efforts. I want to advocate and encourage. I want to speak in public. I want to discuss and persuade and really listen. I want to subscribe to brainy periodicals and sit in a dimly-lit corner to read book after book.
I want to pray.
I want to find a way to sit quietly and think on God, not on the million-and-one other things that constantly flit in and out of my mind. I want to prioritize that relationship. I want to nurture it.
I want to teach my boys to do the same. I want to raise them to be more familiar with the treasures and trappings of our Faith than I have been.
And this – everything above – these are just the things I think are reasonable to want from the kind of life I’m living. These are the ones that fit into my stay-at-home-mom-to-several-littles paradigm.
If I could step outside of those bounds, I’d want to be a singer or an actress. I’d want to work in the halls of Congress or the United Nations or in Brussels or Rome. I’d want to be a journalist or a historian or a conflict negotiator or an event planner or an interior decorator, like my mom. I’d want to spend my spare time attending cultural events and visiting museums and walking historic cities. I’d want to travel.
I’d want it all.
I do want it all.
I just know that in this big world, with all these possibilities to choose from – all isn’t an option.
So I choose, and I try to remember to be happy with my choices. It’s usually easy enough for me to be happy with my SAHM over career woman choice. It was easy for me to be happy with my (previous) public policy over the arts choice. I was mostly reconciled to the domestic over international affairs choice.
But those things above – the ones that belong to my SAHM paradigm – they’re so much harder for me to agree to decide between. I resist choosing. I mourn my lack of a garden and the infrequency with which we have guests to dinner. I still don’t know how to make bread. (Really know – know by the feel of the dough in your hands know.) I approach parties and community commitments with a combination of excitement and dread. I blog infrequently. I rarely read books. My house is far from clean.
I don’t know how to make it all work, because again – all isn’t an option.
There are only 24 hours in a day. There is only so much activity (and alternately, neglect) that small children can take. I only have so much energy.
I’m trying to remember this. I’m trying not to mourn my nonexistent garden or my paltry efforts at hospitality. I’m trying to remember the home cooking that I do do, the stories that we read, the Halloween costumes that are sprawled, mid-assembly, all over our dining room table. (Monsters – all three are monsters this year.) I’m trying to remember that while my blog posts are infrequent, sometimes people say they’re touched by them. I’m trying to not mind the mess.
I want it all – and somehow, sometimes that makes me feel better about not getting it. When my “want” list includes desires as diverse as folk singing, international conflict negotiation, and tomatoes – well then, I feel more blessed to have such a diversity of interests than I do frustrated to not be able to achieve them all. (Pinterest/blog reading got you down because of the abundance of fall tablescapes? No worries! You’ll never achieve Broadway success either. And that’s okay.)
I suppose the key is to choose the few wants in your paradigm that seem most elemental to your peace, your happiness, your sanity. And to indulge in your other desires with some scheming, maybe, or with some wistful dreaming – but with no guilt.
Because though we may want it all, all simply isn’t an option. And that’s okay.