I need a bigger porch. Attached to a house measuring over 2,800sqft, my porch is the size of a postage stamp in comparison. Not that I’m trying to complain; I’m grateful for my postage stamp and the enormous quantity of happiness that has occurred under the roof attached to it, but it does make it hard to sit outside and write when my nephews keep hitting me with the screen door every 2.7 seconds. I thought about bringing coffee out with me and enjoying the temperate weather, listening to the birds sing, soaking up the sunshine while I peacefully mind-dumped, but then I realized the only thing I’d be dumping is hot coffee all over my MacBook when the 3 year old plows the door into my shoulder for the 57th time.
What comes next is just a tiny glimpse of my real life juxtaposed with my fantasy life.
All parents have a fantasy life I think. All people, really, but since the only people I know anything about happen to be parents, we’ll just narrow it down to all eleventy billion of us. In my fantasy life, I get paid to travel to beautiful places. When I’m not working my “real job” I earn “extra” cash for effortlessly churning out brilliant blog-posts while a soundtrack of ocean waves crashes in the foreground and my toes are resting in the soft white sand (which doesn’t fly all over me & my computer when the wind blows). In this fantasy, I also have a perfect, sun-kissed body, look good in wide-brimmed hats & enjoy a never-ending supply of books, as well as free beverages ranging from water to coffee, to sweet iced tea, to bourbon depending on my mood. Admittedly, the need for bourbon may alter in direct proportion to the number of children trotting in and out of this fantasy. At this point that number is nil. The space in front of me is vast and insanely gorgeous, and there are no screen doors within 1000 miles of where I sit. While I’m at it, I’ve taken all the fat and calories out of food & chocolate is now the most densely nutritious thing on the planet.
In my real life…
Again, I’m not trying to complain. My real life is more wonderful & full of blessings than I ever could have imagined, but the closest I’ll ever come to getting paid to write is being awarded a $1,000 grant for school based on a two page essay about my personal goals. And I’ll be doing that writing (in hours rather than minutes) with a caffeine headache on a partly cloudy day from a small porch in a small town while listening to a combination of train whistles & the screeching sounds of my 4 year old nephew doing what he calls laughing while repeatedly smashing a poor pink monster truck on the concrete as hard as he possibly can, and being jostled by the repeated opening of the screen door as the 3 year old comes out to play with my ears. The cute little weirdo has a thing about ears.
Still…while I wouldn’t ever say no to a deserted island with clear, turquoise water, palm trees and a bottomless sea of books, my current circumstance is – in its own much less serene way – a sort of paradise. I am fortunate enough to have the privilege of being a full time parent to my three children and a temporary surrogate to my nephews. It’s a hard job with long hours, few breaks & infinite shoulder bruises, but as challenging and frustrating as it can be it is equally fulfilling. To see the fruits of my labor progressively manifest in these little people is pretty awesome. I won’t be able to do this forever though. I’m usually not a plan-for-the-future sort of person, preferring to usually just go with the flow, but my husband has rubbed off on me in that way recently and if things go the way they should, our home will be empty of ear-pulling, truck-smashing toddlers & fridge-emptying,
soul-sucking, ride-needing, wallet-draining teens and pre-teens in as few as 8 years. I’m going to need something fulfilling to do other than stay home & watch Supernatural reruns & flip through baby books. Something that will help me to afford all this fantasy traveling I want to do.
That is the reason I’m sitting on my 8×4-foot porch procrastinating writing potential grant-awarding essays to help afford a future education in a field that pays in a more practical currency than ear-tugs and kisses. Unlike my husband, (who worked very hard & deserves every single benefit he sacrificed for) I don’t have a service-connected education allowance to pay for things like that, so essay-writing it is. My ultimate goal is to get myself trained in something that might get me a little closer to my fantasy life and still benefit my family in the meantime.
Why am I telling you this?
I hadn’t intended on producing (or publishing) this particular piece; it was meant to be a warm-up exercise destined to live out the rest of its days as #64 in my drafts folder. Yet, here we are. I decided half-way through to publish it because there’s a parent somewhere who has a fantasy life they’re not expecting to even partly achieve & I want to encourage you to take steps now to make some version of it happen. Our circumstances could change at any moment & while I don’t want to take for granted the blessing I’m currently living, I do want to set myself up for a future that contains a little bit more than Empty Nest Syndrome & some kind of life crisis. Who knows? Maybe I’ll need this post in a year for my own encouragement or as a reminder for why continuing my education seemed like a good idea at 32 years old. The only way I’ll get to spend my 40s on a beach is if I take steps in that general direction now (I imagine it takes a while – & a sprinkle of Jesus juice – to walk to Hawaii). In the meantime, I’m going to sweet talk my husband into building me a bigger porch.
What are you thankful for right now? Tell me about your fantasy life! How close or far away are you? Is there any small thing you could change right now that might help put you on a new, potentially more positive path? Is chocolate also nutritious in your fantasy? (I’m asking because I wonder if we might make it happen if we put enough heads together. We should work on that fat and calorie-free thing while we’re at it).