Saturday, May 8, 2010

A dream is a wish your heart makes

Teachers at school are preparing for the summer. Many of them are taking elaborate vacations, including a few to Europe. One of my friends is spending her summer in China. She asked me what I'm doing this summer, and I explained enthusiastically,

"Playing with the baby!"

"Well, that sounds... nice," she responded politely, with thinly veiled sarcasm.

It occurred to me then that she would not trade places with me for anything. She would much rather be galavanting around the Orient than staying at home enjoying a brand new little life.

She seems as strange to me as I'm sure I seemed to her. I'd rather stay home!

When I was 17 and preparing to go to college, I took a trip that I've never really talked to anyone about.

I applied to NYU's Tisch School of the Arts - one of the most prestigious performing arts colleges in the nation. I don't know why I didn't talk to anyone about it at the time, except that I was quite sure I wouldn't get in, so it seemed pointless to tell anyone.

When I received an audition, I was stunned.

Still convinced I would never get in, I had to figure out how to make it work withoug letting anyone know.

Orchestrating an audition in New York without anyone finding out what I was doing was extremely difficult. Fortunately, my parents both work for United Airlines, and were divorced, so I was able to lie and scheme my way into flying to New York for a day without anyone actually finding out what I was doing. (This is about as rebelious and brave as I have ever been, and without doubt the biggest lie I ever told my parents.)

I was terrified as I took a taxi to the campus all by myself, and so nervous about the audition that I remember literally shaking. I thought that, if I somehow managed to get in, it would be the biggest thing I would ever do in my life. I envisioned myself becoming some kind of major Broadway star, and thought about how grateful I would be for such an opportunity.

A few months later, a big envelope came in the mail from New York: I had gotten in, and with a scholarship to boot.

17 year old me had a huge decision to make. Would I move to New York and pursue a musical career?

Even after everything that I had been through to secure a spot in such an incredible institution, as I thought about it and what my life would be like, I ultimately decided that I had to turn it down. Even at 17, I knew that what I wanted out of life would not benefit from an unpredictable career. A career in which I would probably never be home for dinner, and might even have to travel for months at a time. I wanted a husband, a stable, loving home, and a family.

It was a great opportunity, and a huge turning point for me. Because even at 17, I knew that my greatest achievement in life would be becoming a mommy.

I recount this story because I may never get to go to Europe or China. I may never be a Broadway star. I may have to spend my money on diapers instead of clothes, bar tabs or trips. I may spend my Saturday nights bathing the baby.

But 17 year old me was absolutely right about the path I should take; the path that was right for me.

When Leah was born, I saw her face and told her, "I've been waiting my whole life for you!" It just tumbled out of my mouth before I could think about it, but it is absolutely true.

I am lucky, humbled, honored, blessed and grateful, grateful, grateful to a mommy. No matter what so-called "opportunities" I may miss out on, I have the greatest opportunity of all in nurturing my daughter, loving my husband and growing our family every day.

As I prepare to celebrate my very first Mothers Day, I know that the life Casey and I have created for ourselves is only different from the life I dreamed of as a child in one way: it's infinitely better than I dreamt it could be.

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