When my daughter was small, she scribbled on paper like it was a paying gig. We hung her mini masterpieces on the refrigerator. We strung them on a line across the window with teeny, tiny clothespins.
We even framed a few of the accidentally stunning watercolors.
I say accidental because I am not a stage mother. Where some may have seen pint-sized talent and dreamed of art school, I assumed any child of mine would grow up to claim her share of my decidedly average artistic ability.
But it goes beyond the question of talent. I’ll be honest and admit that I am a mother of the dream-squashing kind.
I may not always voice my negativity, but when she said she would be President someday, I said “Hmmm.”
When she said she’d be famous, I said, “Well, I don’t know.”
When she said she’d have a picture hanging in a museum when she grew older, I didn’t say anything at all. Just felt a little sad. Because we all know that these sorts of dreams don’t come true. And isn’t it my job, as her mother, to teach her to dream a little more realistically?
I consider my own life. I am not the President. I am not famous. I will never have a painting in a museum.
But then I consider it some more. If I could have seen my today twenty years ago, what would it have looked like to me?
I have no doubt it would have looked too good to be true.
This husband, these children, our home. That garden, this book, my perch by the window, and even the mug of tea at my feet. I could have imagined a life with fewer shadows, but I don’t think I could have imagined a life more beautiful and more perfectly suited to me than this one I’ve been given.
Who is the wise one, and who is the fool?
The six of us join the crowd in the museum. This is Wyeth country, and the museum on the river is home to N.C.’s pirates, Andrew’s farmhouses, Jamie’s haystacks.
For the next few weeks, it is also home to an exhibit of local student art.
It is all so normal, so everyday. The reception with apple juice and cookies. The proud parents and grandparents filing past the wall of identical black frames.
I actually stand in front of that wall for a full ten minutes before I realize my daughter’s dream came true.
Here is her portrait of a pumpkin. One bright light in a constellation of black frames.
It is hanging in a museum.
It is an impossible dream. A wish upon a star.
An ordinary day.