Dreams by Suzann Smith

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“Good morning,” Sammie grunted in reply to the entirely too cheerful “Good Morning, Mommy!” she had received from the little pixie who had come to steal her sleep.

“Mommy!” The little creature continued with all the cheer and joy that no one ought to possess before 7am. Pulling on the sheets and blankets, trying to dislodge her still slumbering mother, the eager little cherub raised the volume and the enthusiasm. “Mommy! Let’s make breakfast!”

With a grumbled reply that might have passed for agreement, Sammie rolled herself out of bed and stumbled off to make coffee in vain hopes that the warmth of the coffee would somehow make up for the loss of the warmth of her beloved bed.

As the fog of sleep began to lift, Sammie began to contemplate her day. As was often the case, she tried to push aside her thoughts of what she should be doing with her day, her life.

The thoughts poured in, unbidden, the moment she rose from her bed each morning. She tried not to stare at the giant elephant in the room.

No. Like literally, the giant stuffed elephant her eldest daughter had dragged home from somewhere so many years ago and that had been hugged and loved by first one child, and then another until its neck was broken and floppy from so much mauling.

That elephant, who had so carelessly been left out at bedtime last night, was a metaphor, Sammie thought, for her own mauled and broken spirit. Years of life’s circumstances had pulled and tugged at her dreams and plans until her spirit was bent over and hanging, unable to rise to the occasion, looking worn and pathetic.

What had become of her life? Her dreams?

What even were her dreams? Did she even have any dreams? She once had, hadn’t she… That career, that marriage, those children. She had, in fact, had those dreams. Years ago.

As she poured the boiling water over the freshly ground coffee, the aroma began to perk her up. The pleasant smell always reminded her of those early years, when she was first married and she and her Knight in Shining Armor were both busy career people. The coffee maker would drip its liquid life into the glass carafe and the kitchen would fill with the delightful smell while the two of them dashed around, cabinet doors banging, dishes clanging, hurriedly bustling through the morning in an attempt to get themselves out the door and off to their important, busy jobs and their important, busy lives.

Those years had been filled with laughter and fun, for sure. But they had lacked something.

“Mommy! I know what I want for breakfast! Toast! I’ll make the toast. You pour my milk.” The sound of the stool being dragged to the toaster pulled Sammie back to this morning, this far more relaxed morning, where the bustle and banging wasn’t from two busy career people but rather from one perpetually exhausted mom and one super eager 4 year old trying to make breakfast.

She had, in fact, had dreams, she thought. Then the realities of life had come pouring in. Realities that meant she had to make choices. Tough choices.

As the morning melancholy rattled around with the lingering webs of sleep clogging her mind, Sammie continued through her morning routine. Thoughts meandering between the mundane and the wistful, she managed to complete most of her morning breakfast preparations before being once again pulled from the corners of her own brain by the voice of her teenage daughter, clearly in need of some help.

“Mom, do you have a minute to help me with this math problem?”

Math? Before coffee? What kind of monster are you, Sammie ponders to herself, as her “morning person” daughter dutifully attempts algebra at 7:30 am.

“Um, yeah, sure.”

Math before coffee. Giant elephants with broken necks. Pixies pulling me from my slumber. When did I lose complete control of my life?

Though the exact moment she lost control was a mystery, it was evident that she had, in fact, surrendered control of her life to something, or someones other than herself.

This thought was emphasized by her twin 11-year-old boys bounding into the room, racing for the kitchen to see who could claim the box of cereal first. Clearly, the first bowl of cereal was far superior to the second, as the boys yanked and pulled at one other, each, in turn, grabbing the box of cereal from his wombmate and trying to get the contents poured before losing possession of the box.

Sammie managed to save the contents of the box from covering her floor by grasping it herself mere moments before its otherwise inevitable fall to the ground, which would have been entirely the fault of the other brother.

Pouring each twin a bowl and sliding them across the bar, she again turned to her now brewed but still untouched coffee.

A few minutes later, as she struggled to juggle coffee and pen and paper at the table while teaching algebra to an artist who detests math, and sneaking bites of cold toast off the Pixie’s plate, her tired mind again began to wander to the circumstances that had led to this day, this moment in time. Homeschooling a houseful of children rather than punching a time clock. Entertaining preschoolers, enlightening teenagers, and refereeing tweens, was this really the dream she had sacrificed everything for?

Those moments of doubt didn’t have time to perch long in her addled brain as again the teenager said, “I just don’t get it.” and tried to explain what newest tidbit of algebra didn’t make sense to a brain filled with colors, textures and swirls. Sammie wracked her brain for all the things she had once known about teaching algebra, saying a silent blessing for Jr High and High School math teachers everywhere.

As the morning progressed, the math began to make sense, for now, and the tweens dragged their exuberance into the yard.

Sammie gathered her cold coffee and set her sights on the microwave. It was merely 10 feet away. Ten feet and thirty seconds was all that stood between her and her warm, sweet cup of java.

Make that ten feet, thirty seconds and a thirty-six inch tall blonde pixie.

“Mommy! I’m ready to do MY school?”

Every fiber of Sammie’s exhausted, under-caffeinated being wanted to say, “Sweetie, you don’t need to do that right now. Let’s do it after lunch.” But years of homeschooling had taught her that one is wisest to strike while the iron, and coffee, is hot. She promised to join the pixie at the table as soon as her coffee was done reheating.

As the microwave hummed, she watched the twins play their version of “cops and robbers” which was basically one brother pulling on the other and trying to shove him into the playhouse “jail” until it was time to switch roles.

The “Beeeeep” of the microwave pulled her mind from the antics in the yard to the warm brew and then to the preschooler waiting to do her school at the table.

Swiping a mushy, browning banana on her way, she sat with the Pixie who had dutifully gotten her school books out and was coloring on a random page, with no idea what the actual instructions involved.

With half a brain on phonics, the other half began to wander back to her waking thoughts. What had become of the dreams of her childhood? The plans made with her high school sweetheart turned husband? What had become of the woman she had thought she was? Was becoming? Was supposed to be? So many people had scoffed when she walked away from her career, uninterested in leaving her children to be raised by strangers.

They had said things like “What about you? What about your career? What about the years of schooling wasted?”

They had grown even more vocal in their condescension when instead of putting her daughter into preschool then kindergarten so she could return to the very important business of “the career world,” she had opted to homeschool first one, then another, eventually all of her children. As her family grew, those intent on detracting from her joy grew more and more adamant that she was wasting her life raising her children.

Was she? Had they all been right? Had she wasted her talents, her education, her years of dreaming and planning?

The half of her brain focused on phonics heard it first. “C-a-t. C-a-t. Cat. MOM! That word says cat! Mommy! I can read cat!!” Yanked back to this moment in time, this day with this child as she learned to read her first word, Sammie knew. She had always known. She might doubt when the coffee is cold and the tweens are loud and the teens are … teens. She might forget for a moment. But she knew. She had known that moment all those years ago and this moment right now. Her dreams had been a springboard for bigger dreams, her plans had been but a sketch of a bigger, more beautiful plan.

Sammie kissed the Pixie on the head, told her how proud momma was and encouraged her to keep trying to read the other words, while momma headed to the microwave to again heat up that poor cup of coffee. Along the way she caught sight of the teen’s online math assignment score, 100%! And again as the microwave hummed she watched the tweens rolling in the yard and laughing together.

Remarkable Thought: Are you allowing the noise of the world to sew discontent and bitterness where your heart once felt certainty and joy?

Are you substituting what the world calls success for your own definition of success? Are you listening to the still, small voice inviting you to find joy in the mundane and peace in the ordinary?

Moral: Don’t let the noise of the world, and its definition of success, distract you from your own peace and contentment.

Note: I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to write a remarkable thought/question or not, so I wrote what my thoughts were when writing the story in the form of a question and in the form of a moral.

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