When Ashlyn was young and I was too I had plans to “fix” things. I had never known anything other than a family with two parents and two brothers, each of us spaced neatly three years apart. At night, after putting her to bed and finishing my homework, I would calculate the time I needed to fall in love, get married and have more children before Ashlyn knew any different. These magical plans would fall into place before I finished college and Ashlyn would have two parents and siblings almost as close in age as my own.
As Ashlyn got older and older, my plan stretched and changed and slowly dissolved with the naivete of my early twenties. I decided that single parenthood might suit me just fine and pictured us as old ladies rocking together on the porch someday, we were only 17 years apart after all.
I will spare you the recounting of my entire life story because I’ve already told it here in mismatched shapes. Nothing happened the way I thought it would. I lived with my parents until I finished college and bought my grandparents’ home and two years of fertility treatments into my marriage, gave Ashlyn her first three siblings, when she was 12.
Today McKenna and I spent the afternoon watching Ashlyn play basketball. She didn’t cry during the first game but she cried during the second. I’m not sure why but this happens every game. Something about the activity and the excitement and the noise overwhelm her every time. I watched her coach comfort her from afar because I’m not allowed to run across the court and someone asked if she was my sister. Again.
McKenna didn’t blink at the show of emotion or the car ride home that included an extra passenger who happens to be a boy whose face turns a little pink when he talks to her sister.
There is a pure, blind innocence that comes with being young and trying to imagine your way through what life will look like. We don’t lay on a twin mattress after a college final and dream of years of single motherhood and an autism diagnosis and the loss of a child. We don’t dream of how good life can be despite these things either.
Days are messy and nights are without sleep and people cry over things we can’t fix. Our best laid plans tip over and we step on them on our way to reality. Reality isn’t something we could have dreamt because we didn’t realize that different was going to be perfectly okay.
If I could go back and tell that dreamy girl her life wasn’t going to be anything like she had carefully planned, I would give my time-traveling ticket to someone else. I couldn’t possibly explain how things would turn out and that most days she would love them anyway.
And for a big, exciting piece of reality… meet the first ever Metro Detroit cast of Listen To Your Mother!
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