A few weeks ago, I visited one of my oldest friends and her new baby boy. He was a beautiful, dark haired cuddly little thing. My friend looked beautiful, motherly and just a little tired as she held him and brushed his soft hair away from his eyes.
The visit seemed a little surreal somehow. As little girls, we often pretended we were grown up with husbands and children and houses of our own.
While I was visiting, my friend dug out a faded envelope from her closet. It was covered in pencil scrawling and tied with a rainbow shoelace. Inside were letters we had written as little girls to our adult selves. We predicted all our dreams and happiness fulfilled by age 20 – romance and marriage, motherhood and career success.
Both of us are now 28, and we laughed about our naïve childhood ideas of the perfect life. How different our dreams and expectations were compared to what our lives really are today.
We never imagined dirty dishes and piles of laundry. Student loans and mortgages. Husbands working late on advanced degrees. Sleepless nights and other new mom pains for one of us, and another year of longing for a child for the other. Neither of us the modern day L.M. Montgomery or Laura Ingalls Wilder who we once aspired to be. A husband losing his job. A father’s sudden illness. Discontentedness.
And yet, as I looked at my friend cradling her sleeping child softly in her arms, I felt glad that life isn’t always what we dreamed it would be.
The struggles of new motherhood are quickly forgotten when the baby smiles up at his mom. The pain of infertility also brings the time and the passion to help others. These are joys that we never could have predicted as children, joys made so much sweeter by the pains.
I wish I could share these reflections with women facing an unplanned pregnancy, women thinking about having an abortion.
Our dreams aren’t always what we imagine them to be. And often, life doesn’t turn out as we planned. But I’ve found that the joys are there anyway, and real life actually can turn out to be so much sweeter than our dreams – as long as we let it.