Lately, a theme keeps creeping into my conversations.
It seems that deep within, many of us have a dream about our ideal family.
Maybe it began when we were little girls ourselves.
I know many women have dreamt of being a bride as far back as they can remember… to be a real life princess.
I was never one to envision my wedding day. It is probably the reason we eloped in Saint Thomas, a mere 3 weeks after we were engaged.
However, years before, I had spent countless hours doodling away on my book covers about my future children’s names and daydreaming about what they’d look like.
For the record, they would have curly brown hair.
Yet, not one of them has fulfilled that simple request.
I think my dream was truly about being a great mom.
The theme that keeps appearing lately is that many moms have a fantasy of their perfect family.
This fantasy is a little different for everyone.
Some of you may have pictured 2 kids. 1 boy. 1 girl.
Or maybe you saw a family of 3 girls that all looked freakishly similar and not at all like you.
I believe these fantasies are causing a lot of pain for a lot of people.
The fantasy is actually unattainable but vehicles like social media cause us to buy into the disappointing quest for the fantasy.
Because it seems that “everyone” is living the freaking fantasy.
Our inner Veruca comes out and, “Daddy, I want to live the fantasy NOW!”
I have learned to love many things about Facebook. But I am also aware of the negative side effects in this game of “compare and despair”.
Personally, I choose to unfollow those that consistently “fantasy post”. If something doesn’t feel right in my gut, I FOLLOW that.
The perfect children, husband, home, finances…is rarely the reality.
Striving for that false reality or fantasy can negatively affect our closest relationships in a big way in my opinion.
For example: Your son isn’t the poster child for baseball or your daughter never “outgrew” her baby pudge or your husband would rather watch football on the couch than go outside and actually throw a ball with his son.
And even though you will D.I.E. die before you ever admit that these superficial measures are a part of your fantasy…
Some version of them may be and you may not even realize it.
You pressure the members of your family to become the role they play in your fantasy, unintentionally.
Of course, on a conscious level you could care less if your son is a baseball star or if your daughter is a supermodel.
And behind the accidental pressure is really a deep desire for a happy and “easy” life for those you love.
You love your daughter just the same no matter her body type and you don’t want her to be teased or to feel bad about herself because of her body. EVER.
So you try to “support” her in making healthy choices and ultimately, you are the one that accidentally emphasizes the importance of having a smaller body than she does.
And you sign your son up for baseball, season after season even though it is stressful getting him to practice and games because he secretly suffers from anxiety every time the ball comes his way.
Where do both of these scenarios leave you?
Raising your voice, nagging, threatening, bribing or even feeling downright exasperated and ashamed of your behavior deep down?
The problem is: The reality and the fantasy will never sync up.
In fact, if you grasp towards the outer shell stuff involving vanity and bragging rights in hopes that life will be easy and happy…
Well, you’re gonna be super screwed.
Because the fantasy that many women picture is really about having a connected and loving family.
The outer shell piece that has you and your people all thin, shiny haired, ultra athletic and rich is just stuff our brains cling to as we try to imagine what the perfect family looks like.
Maybe the dream for you, involves lots of laughter and fun and your family feels like the total opposite of a total blast?
What if your reality involves lots of bickering, yelling and exhaustion?
What if your reality has no Facebook post-able moments?
It is very hard to admit that to yourself, let alone anyone else.
Here’s the thing. The fantasy family doesn’t actually exist.
As long as you strive for that fantasy, the possible bliss that is right in front of you will be a disappointment.
I know. You kinda loathe me for saying that. I get it.
The great news is that your reality; what’s right in front of you has the potential to blow doors off of the fantasy.
The reality involves one of my new favorite sayings, “The goal is connection not perfection.”
Connection always involves humans.
Humans happen to be messy and imperfect.
Messy and imperfect is rarely part of the traditional daydreaming fantasy.
And the truth is: The desire for connection is at the core of the fantasy family.
Connection ALWAYS involves messy and imperfect.
Messy and imperfect is often surrounded with laughter.
And maybe the laughing occurs as you knock each other’s spoons out of the way digging into a carton of ice cream.
And you’re too lazy to even put the ice cream in bowls.
So I will leave you with a new fantasy: Embrace YOUR reality and treasure YOUR messy dream family.
Because your real life just might turn out to be a...