1. Hold my children
2. Hold my children's children
3. Hold my children's children's children
The article made me think of how different my response to this question is today as a woman approaching 40 than it would have been in my teens and twenties.
As a teenager I spent a majority of my time wishing I was someone else far beyond adolescence. Daydreaming of my life ahead I imagined myself in a high-profile career, being swept off my feet by a rock star and owning a closet full of designer clothing and accessories. At 15 my three wishes for a lifetime might have looked something like this:
1. Meet and marry Sting
2. Be famous
3. Live in Europe
In college my friends and I played many drunken rounds of Truth or Dare. We were a cerebral set and most of the time Truth was chosen and a question of morality was asked. My favorite question to pose was "A photograph is taken of you 15 years from today. Describe the photo." The question always elicited a chain of further inquiries -- Are there other people in your photo? Family? A Spouse? A Dog? Does the background reveal a specific lifestyle? A secret? A Passion? Is it a simple moment in time or a complex situation that needs further interpretation? Many of us struggled with this simple question finding it hard to imagine how the celluloid would develop. My answer vacillated between two vastly dissimilar scenes:
1. I am in full Shakespearean dress and make-up as Ophelia in Hamlet standing next to my cast-mates and my parents in front of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London
2. I am smiling while sitting on the steps of a beach house barefoot with my feet in the sand wearing a sun dress and an over-sized sweater. A cup of coffee is sitting on the step next to me and I have a pen and notebook in my hands.
Thinking of these two images now, I realize that they accurately reflect the dichotomy that still exists in my personality - the part of me that wants to be a powerful force in the center of the universe and the part of me that wants to be left alone with my thoughts, pen and paper. But like my son's Spiderman t-shirt reminds me "With great power comes great responsibility," and I don't think I am up to the task anymore.
The ability to procreate is a great power that comes with great responsibility. It occurs to me that in my teens and twenties I did not express a want for children even though I always knew I wanted to be a mother. In truth, however, the full fledged desire to have a child did not bloom in me until I met my husband. Despite this sounding like a passage from a romance novel, I could very clearly picture him holding our newborn child in his arms early on in our love affair.
As I ponder what three things I wish for in my lifetime today I cannot help but make a mental note of all the wishes that have come true in the past 36 years and check them off my list.
1. Play Ophelia in a production of Hamlet directed by a Royal Academy Alum in Europe. Check.
2. Be swept off my feet by the love of my life. Check.
3. Build a dream house. Check.
4. Enjoy a successful career in a high-profile position. Check.
5. Give birth to happy, healthy children. Check.
6. Travel the world. Check.
Even though they unfolded in ways I didn't expect or to a lesser degree than I'd hoped, looking at my checklist I am amazed at how many elements from my former wish lists have become realities. There are also things I should have wished for long ago that I didn't think of. This list is short but bittersweet:
1. Seeing my Mom hold BOTH of my children
2. Perfecting my Grandma's pie-crust in her presence
3. Telling my grandfather "I love you" one more time before he dies
As I look toward the remainder of my lifetime, choosing a shortlist of wishes seems daunting. I am now inclined to think big and simple.
1. Make sure everyone I love knows I love them
2. In every situation find the joy
3. See my boys grow into strong, healthy, happy men
Oh. And maybe there is still hope that I will meet Sting. I look forward to telling him "Sorry, you're too late. I am already happily married."