My daughter stood, firmly planted in her exasperation on the side of the road that bright October day, refusing to move and begging me to listen.
“Mom!” she pleaded, “Come here and just LOOK. Seriously. MOM. Listen to me.”
Nononono, I responded firmly, turning my back and edging away. Now is not the time. No, I can’t, I really, really can’t. Come on, we need to go.
“Mom,” she grew more insistent, unrelenting. “MOM. Look. Mom, really, listen, you’ve been talking about this for years. What are you waiting for?”
That last question got me.
Weakened in the shadow of this blatant truth, I turned back around to look in the direction she was pointing and stopped still to think.
The temptation at the other end of her gesture was, she knew well, a childhood dream that had been dogging me for years. I had tried twice before to make this dream work, but I couldn’t. The failures bruised my heart in a surprisingly deep and lasting way. I wasn’t tough enough to try again. I wasn’t ready.
On the other hand. What was I waiting for? More time, more money, a bigger house, someone to share the burdens? Hell, while we’re on this road, how about a winning lottery ticket, a bestseller, rich lover, an unknown treasure, discovered on Antiques Roadshow, to auction for my fortune? How ridiculous was this thought process, these milestones that never get closer in the hazy, unforgiving distance that is the future?
What was I waiting for, to trust I could use my own two hands to make one tiny, little-girl’s dream come true? What does that take, exactly? Stubbornness, stupidity, faith? A heart that’s open to what is difficult and exhausting and expensive? What does it cost, a little dream, and what is it worth? Do I have the courage to laugh and agree when people look at me and say, Have you lost your mind?
Standing there on the side of that road, staring at this temptation just as my daughter knew I would, I felt something else push its way in and claim a chair at the table of this argument I was having with myself. It was a powerful, maybe slightly perverse, desire to look at this differently. To claim some ground for the dirty, the messy, the disruptive and difficult things that might be at the very root of love. To speak up, for once, and say, I don’t care how hard it is. I want to do it, I can do it, I will do it, and that should be enough. Doubters, hit the highway. To the practical, the perfect, the always clean and controlled: I am not your girl. To the slightly wacky, the challengers, the figure-it-out-ers and the carefree, I didn’t start out on your roster, but I want on your team. Order me a jersey.
So I took the few steps back to where my daughter was standing and reached out my hands. And said, with just a smidge of mother’s sarcasm, Okay, FINE. Alright.
Let me hold the puppy.
Author’s note: This memory is offered in honor of my best pal, who just had a birthday and joined our little household ten years ago next month.