I’m building a castle out of blocks for the second time today, praying for a few minutes of silence. But in my head I’m publishing novels. The world is in love with my characters and blown away by my plotlines. I’m gaining a readership, a fan base – a spot in Oprah’s book club.
I’m making maid-rites, sneaking pureed broccoli into the sauce because it’s the only way she’ll eat vegetables. My mind is in the classroom, discussing James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” with a roomful of eager students. They’re so blown away by my knowledge and enthusiasm, so transfixed by my passion, that they all want to become English teachers someday. Every single one of them.
I’m rubbing the five-month-old’s gums with my finger, attempting to ease the two bottom teeth out gently. They’re determined to poke through sharply and abruptly, but I try anyway. My gaze travels out the window, down the street, past the bank and the church where we got married. It leaves the town, the state, the country. It lands across the ocean where the air is quieter and the pulse is slower. It finds peace and settles.
I’m bribing her to get out of the tub and put on her pajamas. “It’s bedtime,” I say, but she doesn’t hear. My words float out the window and evaporate into empty air. In my mind, though, I’m making music; I’m singing on Broadway and the world is listening. The rhythm is pounding through my heart, the lyrics trickling off my tongue, and I know – I know – that this is me, that this has always been me.
I’m tucking the girls into bed, stroking their hair and peppering their cheeks with kisses. My thoughts are in this room, tangled amidst their wet hair and crocheted blankets. Do they know how much I adore them, how much I relish in their happiness? Do they know that their dreams are potential realities, as real as the pink petunias we water together every night? Do they know that they’ve breathed life into dreams I forget I had?
Do they know that they’ve fulfilled my biggest dream of all?