We all have dreams – work we want to do, influence we’d like to have, places we’d love to see, children we’d love to raise, people we’d like to meet . . . Sometimes these dreams come true; sometimes they don’t. And sometimes they are deferred or delayed. This group of blogs shares the stories of dreams deferred by members of two writing groups I lead in Holland, MI. In this post, our anonymous guest blogger shares how disappointments can fade into blessings. For other posts in this category go to the home page and click on the category A Dream Deferred on the right hand sidebar.
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As a young girl, I played with dolls. I enjoyed picking out their outfits, pretending I was taking them to church, and teaching them as my students in a make-believe classroom. Thinking back, I realize they were all girl dolls. My paper doll sets and coloring books also featured girls or women movie stars. I always assumed I would have a daughter someday, someone who would be interested in, and value, these sentimental childhood experiences and memories. I even saved some of my original dolls, paper dolls, and coloring books.
When each of our sons was born, I was so grateful for a healthy child, especially after two of them needed surgery as infants, but there was also a twinge of longing when I realized that many of my parenting experiences would be different than I had thought years ago. Little did I realize how different! Boys love to wrestle and play rough. We spent one New Year’s Day in the ER when one of our sons fell, cutting his lip and needing stitches. This same son fell off a swimming pool slide onto concrete. Still in my swimsuit, I remember wrapping him in a towel and taking him to the nearby doctor’s office. Another son’s nose was broken during a wrestling match. Another son was climbing a tree with his GI Joes and fell. The fall knocked him unconscious, and his little friend came running to the front door telling me, “Michael fell out of a tree, and he’s dead.”
Maybe it was because I had no daughters that I would not allow the “boys will be boys” rationale to guide my parenting. I tried every day to guide them toward being sensitive and empathetic to others and didn’t excuse bad behavior because they were boys. I know it sounds sexist to characterize boys as rough and tumble and girls as loving dolls and tea parties; I am speaking only from my experience.
Raising Sons and Grandsons
I now realize that my sons are not as interested in the many sentimental items that I have inherited from my mother and my mother-in-law as a daughter might be. I need to be realistic about what I will be able to pass on to them. With one son living thousands of miles away and the others living in homes with little storage space, I must get rid of many parts of my history. I cannot expect my daughters-in-law to care as much about her husband’s family heirlooms as she does about those of her own family. I realize, looking back, that I was more invested and interested in finding out about my family’s history than about my husband’s. I cannot expect it to be different for my own daughters-in-law.
An advantage I now see from having raised boys is that I can (at least partially) understand my grandsons. Their need for speed and rough play does not surprise me, but I still find the words, “Be careful” all too familiar. I have to trust that God knew best in sending us sons, not one of whom I would ever have wanted to be someone else. Even though our youngest son sometimes says, “Yeah, I know I was supposed to be a girl,” there is no way I would want him to be anyone other than who he is.
A Dream Deferred Becomes a Blessing
Yes, the dream of having a daughter has not been fulfilled, but part of it was only deferred until I was able to experience life with granddaughters. They now range in age from a preschooler to teenagers, so one still loves being read to, and another has a blog and dreams of publishing her own book someday.
Although I imagined that raising girls would have been a very different experience, now having several granddaughters has shown me some specifics. They have loved coming over to play with those dolls and paper dolls from long ago. Our annual tea party has been a highlight. They dress up for the occasion and used to bring their dolls along. We pour tea from a tiny teapot and eat bite-size pastries on fine china. They enjoy their annual birthday shopping trip and lunch in a restaurant of their choice. They are interested in old letters and photo albums. I am truly grateful for these opportunities and hope that I can be a meaningful part of their lives well beyond the years of dolls and tea parties.
Living longer gives us the privilege of reminiscence and reflection. It allows early disappointments to fade somewhat and perhaps be balanced by more recent experiences and blessings. I have found this to be true when I think back to those early playing-with-dolls years and then realize that God had a different plan. I am grateful I have lived long enough to see much of it unfold.