Dreams and Motherhood

Cimorene Elizabeth Cooley
Born Aug. 6th, 4:24 a.m.
7 lbs. 2 oz.

I check on her ten times during her nap just to make sure she’s still breathing. I hold her and just stare at her, amazed that I could have played a role in helping to create this moving, grunting, slurping, beautiful creature. I love her. Why can’t that make it easy?

I made cinnamon rolls last night, because I wanted proof that I could accomplish something. There’s not a lot of satisfaction in changing diapers when I know my little girl will likely poop again within five minutes.

I needed that sense of accomplishment to balance the panic I sometimes feel over moving into a stage of life which is unquantifiable. Always before, I could measure my progress against something. I could win a piano competition. I could master a dance lift. I could get an A, keep my scholarship, etc. But now I’m a mom. I want to be a “good mom,” but what does that even mean, and how will I know if I’m accomplishing it?

I’ve watched moms for a long time. It’s always been my goal to become one, so I thought I ought to know something about them. I marveled at the strength and selflessness of these unsung heroes. But now I wonder if I’m strong enough to go unsung.

The transition from “Shannon” into “Mommy” scares me. I feel that I’m covering up all my old masks with a giant new one, a mask which doesn’t get rid of the things I previously used to define myself, but which smothers them and tells me they’re not allowed anymore. But this new mask is not me either, and part of me is crying at adding one more layer to an already overly-masked soul.

The first week I was home from the hospital, my mom, knowing me all too well, looked at me with worry lines across her forehead and said, “You can’t stop dreaming. You just have to find new dreams.” But where do I find those dreams?

There’s a book my mom told me about years ago. I’ve never read it, but it’s called “A Lantern in her Hand.” Apparently it’s about a woman who is young and full of dreams, but she gives them up to raise a family, and her children go on to do all the things she hoped to do.

My daughter got her daddy’s long fingers. Though she’s only two weeks old, they’re already over a third the length of mine. Everyone who has seen her hands has held them up and commented that she’ll play the piano. Those who knew me when I was younger add, “just like her mom.” Everyone also talks about how she’ll “have” to be musical, because there’s so much musical talent coming from both her parents. I had dreams relating to piano once. I tried to give them up years ago, but it would be so easy to let them slide onto my daughter.

She has long limbs also, again from her father, not from me. She’ll likely have the tall, slender build that I always envied in dancers like Kami, my friend and former coach. My daughter will have lines which would be gorgeous for dancing, but I can’t push that dream onto her either. If she wants to dance, I’ll be thrilled, but only if she’s doing it for herself.

I can’t transfer my dreams onto my children. I don’t want to put that kind of expectation on them, because I’ve known people who had to choose between their own dreams and their parents’, and that’s a situation I never want my children to face.

So where do I look for new dreams? And how do I let go of the old ones? I have dreams I’ve been trying to give up for years, but they still lurk, coming out whenever I get too tired to fight them. I’ve attained Mommyhood, which was always the “big dream,” my career plan, but now I find that all the little dreams, which were just meant to fill time until I reached this one, have somehow become a part of me, and beyond not knowing how to amputate them, I don’t want to.

Does that make me a bad mom?

I love my daughter. I wouldn’t give her up for anything. I still can’t believe God trusts me enough to lend her to me.

Maybe that’s the real problem. I don’t trust myself nearly as much as God seems to trust me. My old dreams bother me because they remind me of how I don’t feel unselfish enough, or prepared enough, or just enough. Back to quantifying things again. I seem to have a fixation with that.


Sunny Summer Day--July 3rd 2010

Somehow this has become a tradition for the 4th of July (starting with Kristen, Anona, and the balloon snake hats). It's the Rexburg (tractor) Parade and playing in the park. Ninja games. Music. Hippie ribbons. BBQ at my house, and then rodeo for the strong and the hungry. It's rest and relaxing. If you're wandering around the country some year with nothing to do on the 4th, drop up to Rexburg.