It is a strange thing to get further and further into my years as a mom. I’m almost 8 years in, and I have realized that somewhere along the line, I told myself it was no longer okay to want things. Or more accurately, I stopped acknowledging to myself or others that I have “wants.” I could desire stuff in my head, but expressing my wish to actually have something go a certain way, or want a specific thing, would be selfish. I felt I needed to roll with the punches as the mother of a young family, and see where the day, week, month, or even year would take us. Whatever I want is irrelevant, I’ve got what I need and I’ve got a family to care for. So I sort of stopped wanting things, at least out loud.
Then I woke up this morning and I kind of floated above my own head watching our routine. I was enjoying it, and kind of almost nostalgic for it while it was happening – do you know what I mean? That feeling that “My kid crawled into my bed again, sigh. But oh what will I do when she’s 15 and doesn’t crawl into my bed anymore and doesn’t fit inside my embrace in a perfect spoon configuration?” I thought, I want her to crawl into my bed. I tell her to sleep in her own bed, but I actually want her to crawl into mine. I WANT THIS. And from there my mind sort of jumpstarted itself, and I realized that I want things every single day. And those things are probably pretty reasonable things, and maybe I would just think about them for a second. Maybe I would tell my husband about them. Maybe I would tell my kid. Maybe I would tell the world, lol. Maybe if I thought about what I wanted, I wouldn’t feel so bad about wanting it. And maybe if I knew what I wanted, I would be more likely to get it? Maybe the word “want” stops having any meaning if you write it enough times? So, what is it that I want out of a day? I decided to make a list.
I want a comfortable place to lay my head. Like specifically, I want to wake up with the good pillow under my skull. There are four pillows and I only like one of them and I don’t know how it happens that I wake up and find it’s on the floor. Scarlet to be wearing that one fleece nightgown that makes her feel like a giant stuffed animal when I snuggle her awake in the morning. Bonus if she has climbed into my bed in the middle of the night.
A comfortable sweater. I find sweaters so scratchy, and sweatshirts too stiff. But it’s chilly in the morning, and I just want that one cozy sweater, the one with the fringe and the red and blue stripes, to be clean and never get threadbare. Lots of new messages on my online message board to read when I wake up. Notes about my friends’ lives to catch up on, and hopefully all good things, but if they are rough things, I hope I can offer some insight or solutions. I want to be able to answer any questions they have, I guess what I really want is a way to be helpful to some people I love.
Three coffees. And the milk reservoir from the pod machine to not be in pieces in the dishwasher. I hate having to assemble a coffee maker before I’ve had my coffee. An idea. There was a time I woke up every morning with 50 ideas, and would check my email and find that I had sent myself more random ideas in the middle of the night in my sleep. Ideas are harder to come by lately, I’m not sure why.
Not to have to put gas in my car. I’m not big on the maintenance details of life.
Family dinner at the table. I get sad when my husband has to work late and we don’t all eat together. I mean, I get it, but family dinner has become a huge deal to me, like it was to my mom. I also really, really want Scarlet to actually eat whatever sauce I made even though it has green things in it and not make any grossed-out faces. I want this. I want to go to sleep and think to myself that I was kind to my husband today. This is really hard to remember to do, for some reason. I mean, I don’t think I am mean to him on an average day, but the days sort of go by and lump together without any time to think consciously about how we’ve interacted. Sometimes I get into bed for our nightly family viewing of “Wheel of Furtune” exhausted from running about with Scarlet all afternoon and then baking cookies and playing six rounds of “The Game of Life” and fall asleep without even saying goodnight. I want to fall asleep being aware that I took a minute out of the day to acknowledge how hard he works instead of pouting that he didn’t make it home for dinner. And to be glad that I remembered to give him a kiss before he left for the office and maybe had a full child-free conversation with him about our days. For some reason this is embarrassing to me to admit. Why is that? I am proud to make my husband a homemade meal at night, and I am proud that he works hard to support our family and gives me the opportunity to write for a living and pick my kid up when the school bell rings. Maybe we are traditional, but we came to this arrangement on our own terms and I appreciate this about our marriage.
I want a smaller belly. Or actually, I want to not care that I have gained weight between age 22 and age 38. But I do care, and I have a belly and while I can live with that, I still want a smaller one. I’m free to want that. I also want a bowl of pasta with vodka sauce, so there’s that.
A maid. Cleaning sucks. But then I start cleaning and it’s actually meditative. I guess I don’t mind it that much. But I do want a robot that folds laundry. See above about my problem with maintenance details of life. Folding laundry is the second-worst of all the chores (ironing is the worst). I know some people love it. Thank g-d my husband is one of them.
I want to talk to my mom one more time. I think about this for at least a few minutes every day. The acute pain of wanting this un-have-able thing has dulled a bit over the past few months, but it’s still there. We had a lot of unfinished business I wish we could talk through and put to bed. I haven’t voiced how much I want this, I guess because I know that I can’t have it, so it seems counter-productive to getting on with the business of living. But maybe acknowledging that I feel this way will make it so it doesn’t seem so much like a secret pain. I loved my mother, and I wish I had been a better daughter, and I wish I could talk to her and tell her that. There it is. So I’ve been pondering this for a few days, and I think this list truly captures all the things that I want. These are the wishes that spark a longing in me – an appetite, I might even say a craving. Having written them down, I don’t feel especially selfish. I do feel human, and a bit exposed. Maybe that’s the reason I stopped saying what I want so many moons ago: Fear of offering myself up to judgment, even from my own self. Or maybe I was afraid of unearthing a thirst for attention that could never be quenched, a well of need that could never be filled. I didn’t want to burden my family, or anyone, with taking on my wants as directives they had to fulfill. But now, having taken a deep look into my own longings, I think at worst some could be characterized as itches that can’t be scratched. The rest are just tickles.