Friday, May 12, 2017

Such are the dreams... @Liz Flaherty

This was written for Mother's Day of 1991. It wasn't my last Mother's Day column, but it was my first. It's kind of nice to know I still like it, although I'm not sure I remember the original dreams--the reality was so much better. What do you think?

"She looks in the mirror and stares at the wrinkles that weren't there yesterday..." - Chris Gantry

When she was young, before she had formula stains on her clothes or stretch marks or crows feet, your mother had dreams. In those dreams, she was a singer or dancer or writer or CEO. She wore designer clothes and her hair was always perfect and she had the kind of checkbook balance that dreams are made of. Her plans for vacation never included McDonald's or Motel 6.

For many mothers, there was a man in those dreams. He was always strong and handsome and intelligent and sensitive. He never forgot important dates, never left dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, never for one moment considered anything in life to be as important as the woman whose dreams he was inhibiting.

Sometimes there were children in the dreams, children who behaved well and wore miniature designer clothes that stayed clean. Children who ate their vegetables without complaint and did their homework without fail and who never watched tasteless television or hid dirty magazines under their beds. Even after your mother gave birth to these children (painlessly--we're dreaming here) she maintained her figure and her perfect hair and flawless skin that defied crows feet to appear.

Her home was a portrait of good taste and comfort. In her dreams its plumbing was never iffy, its windows never leaky, its floors never sloped and scarred with the passage of time. The furniture shone with the patina of quality and good wax. The beds were made each morning and the pillows arranged in the artful disarray the magazines make look easy. The house was even paid for.

It is said that dreams die hard.

Not for most of us. For most of us, they change rather than die. We wear what is comfortable and what we can afford, we have bad hair days and not-so-bad hair days, and time leaves its obvious footprints on our skin. Instead of glamorous careers, most of us have jobs we may or may not like but which help keep the checkbook balance in the black. Not the very black, maybe, but close enough to keep the wolves from the door.

The men in our lives are different from what we dreamed, as fallible and faulty as we ourselves are. Although on any given day, they will probably have some of the characteristics of the men of our dreams, chances are good they'll never have all of them at once.

Which brings us to the children of our dreams. Speaking for myself only, I must say that mine were not. If one of them happened to be behaving well, the other two probably weren't. They dressed okay, but were seldom clean at any point in time previous to their 12th birthdays, when they suddenly started taking two showers a day and setting up housekeeping in front of the bathroom mirror. They did homework spasmodically and subsisted on diets that even now the memory of makes my stomach clench. They watched, read, and listened to every single thing I ever didn't want them to.

They turned the house of my dreams into what seemed at times like a three-ring circus. There was no single day in which every bed in the house was made or every dish clean at the same time. The house has leaky windows and iffy plumbing and a few floors that would feel right at home on a ski lift. The patina on the furniture is marred by marks from compasses and baseball cleats and the rubber soles of size 12 basketball shoes.

There is nothing I would change. Nothing.

When I was young, I had dreams. Somewhere in the passage of time, those dreams underwent changes, but they all--every one of them--came true. I hope yours did, too.

Happy Mother's Day to us all, and thanks, Mom. Both of you.

My mom, Evelyn Shafer
Duane's mom, my other mom, Mary Farrell


  1. What a wonderful post, Liz. Poignant, touching, and humorous, too. Great mom and kids pics. Loved it.