When I was young, I used to carry my Cabbage Patch kid into the living room of our home. I would pretend that I (as a grown-up) was coming into the Chapel at church and sitting with my big, happy family. The Cabbage Patch kid, who I named Madison, was the baby of the family. But I pretended that there were four other kids - two boys and two girls. Madison wrapped up the happy, perfect, loving family of five children and two committed parents. In my imaginary world, I was a stay-at-home mom. I took care of my children while my loving, supportive husband worked. In our spare time, in this imaginary world, we would go do art projects with the elderly at rest homes and we would make cookies twice a week. We went on walks and visited the local library often. In this dream world of mine, I was everything I had always wanted to be. I was pretending to be a 38 year-old mom in a world that was beautiful and perfect.
I was so devastated when that world of mine, that perfect imaginary world was not what actually happened. Time and time again, I failed. Time and time again, I realized that I had not actually created that world for myself. I made bad choices. I so desperately wanted that world that I didn't take my time to find it. I went with the first option - door number one every single time. I settled for less than what that imaginary world would have gotten me.
I often wonder what imaginary world my children dream up. I wonder what they would draw their world to be if someone asked them to do so. No one dreams of being in a "broken" family. No one dreams of growing up and having their parents divorce. No one dreams of working 18-hour days. No one dreams of barely making it every single day. That's not what we think of when we imagine our world at 38 years old.
Sometimes, I look back at the road behind me and I wonder how in the heck we ended up where we are. I wonder how many time Heavenly Father has shook his head at me. I wonder where we would be if I had made different choices. What if I would have gone on a mission? What if I would have gone to nursing school? What if I would have said "no" a few times? What if I had decided that being treated certain ways really wasn't okay? What if? What if?
This is not the life I pictured, but it is my life. Although I have no doubt that I have disappointed my Heavenly Father, my family, and myself repeatedly, this is where I am now. I have a good life. My boys and I have traveled some avoided roads - roads that other people are smart enough not to go down. Tangent - I like to sit outside in my camping chair on my lunch breaks. I sit very, very near the weeds on the side of our building. My boss told me early on that there are a few parks nearby that he never wants me to go to by myself. Well, it is my personality to want to go there to find out just how bad it really is. Tangent over - I repeatedly go down the roads that others are smart enough not to go down. I need like a shock collar!
My boys and I have made it, barely, to this point. We have a roof over our heads. My kids sleep in beds, with blankets and pillows. They have clean clothes to wear each day. They have food in their bellies each day. They have education and teachers who do their best everyday. We have the medication we need. We have health insurance. We have family who love us, even though they don't always like me, they love us. We have cars to get us to where we need to go, even though sometimes we barely make it there. :) And, I have said this before, but Heavenly Father has always strategically placed people in our path. There is not a time of my life that I cannot look back and see one person, or more, who were strategically placed there for that very time and purpose.
When I was managing apartments, pregnant with Braxton and had little Jackson, I had sweet Juli. When I was managing my next set of apartments and had Jackson and Braxton, and was pregnant with Kaydon, I had sweet Heather. When we moved into our home and had Jackson, Braxton, Kaydon (who was critically ill) and I was pregnant with Colton, I had Becky and Mo. When we moved back to my parents home, I had Katie, Heidi, and Alicia who were my nannies. When we moved to West Jordan, I had Rebecca and Marni. When we moved back to Sandy, I met my Sarah (Miss Birdie). When we moved to West Point, I met Heidi (Martha). The list really goes on and on. But these angels on Earth don't even realize that they have saved my life. Literally. Miss Birdie knows. But the rest don't realize what a blessing they have been to me as I have walked the road of failure.
This is not what I imagined my life would be, but it's a good life. It's a life full of challenges, yet joys. It's a life full of hard ship, yet mercies. It's a life full of stumbles, yet triumphs. We are blessed. I am grateful.