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tiger-trail-exhibit-at-the-san-diego-zoo-safari-parkWe all have dreams. Everyone since Eve ate that apple has had dreams. The sad truth however is that no matter what dreams we may have, the reality is that most people will never realize their dreams. There can only be one President, few if any have talent like Michael Jordan or even the incomparable Barbra Streisand. It is a fact of life.

And yet, we not only encourage our children to dream and hope for the future, but we too seem to naturally and almost unconsciously dream. We do it despite the fact that we know that money is an issue, that violence around the world is an issue, that there are much more talented people than we will ever hope to be. We force these dreams or at least the act of dreaming on our children until simple concepts such as math and science become boring rather than important. We expect our child to become the next Derek Jeter so much that we literally allow them to practice baseball rather than learn to read.

Not every parent does this or at least to this extreme. Despite the fact that the dream of having a child making millions of dollars each year is rather attractive most parents understand the first time their child is at bat exactly what they are looking at – an average child learning to love a game. There is nothing wrong with this; I find it quite important to teach our children the love of a game, the rules, the teamwork, the importance of being counted on. And despite my real hate of participation trophies, there is something to be said for a child who will never make the major or the minor leagues showing up each day.

In many ways what really sucks in my life isn’t the dream my child is having – I try and encourage those to a degree. It isn’t even my own dreams of grandeur that I truly have a problem with. The real part that sucks is when you have an attainable dream and you literally can’t grant it. Maybe a “dream” is too big a word here and we should use the lesser “wish” in our continuation. Wish it is.

I have a bucket list, like many people. Despite the very real knowledge of my own social abilities many of the items on that list will require a great amount of fortitude for me to capture and complete the wish. As much as I would love to see Petra, Jordan the truth is that when factoring in the violence, the crowds, the travel out of my safety zone, etc. I probably when never get to see much more than the pictures on my computer screen. It remains on my bucket list because the wish is real, the dream to see that great marvel can’t be taken away by reality; yet, I know I will never see it.

But there are other things to wish for that are simpler and yet heartbreaking in their reality.

There is a commercial on the television right now regarding travel. I don’t know who is marketing their product, nor do will I ever remember the name of the company determined to get me to use their product. It isn’t what’s important (which kinda makes it a fail but…). The commercial shows a girl, probably between four and six dressed in what is obviously a beloved tiger suit. She is wearing it as what we can presume is her Daddy carries her from the airport to the car rental place and on to the hotel. The commercial ends with the same child, dressed again in her tiger suit, meeting a tiger face to face and the sheer magnificence of this event for both the child and the father. The image of that tiger behind windows coming to look at the child and her honest reaction is amazing. It gives meaning to introducing your child to the incredible world that surrounds her, even if you have to go to the San Diego Zoo to do so.

This commercial breaks my heart. Not because I am sad in anyway for the child or the father. The fictional father plays his part in an academy note-worthy way. And the child’s eyes make the whole story real. What breaks my heart is the sure knowledge that I will not be able to give my children that same experience.

Let’s move away from the reality that even if I took my children to see the tigers at the San Diego Zoo, I probably couldn’t get one of those magnificent creatures to actually walk up to my children. They would most likely be sunbathing or doing something completely ordinary.  Let’s get away from the fact that traveling with children is never as easy as it looks in those commercials. Let’s get away from the fact that San Diego is literally three time zones from where I live.

Instead let’s concentrate on the fact that I don’t have the money for the plane tickets. Let’s concentrate for a moment on the fact that not a couple of hours away is one of the most recognized zoos in the world and I have taken my children there. Let’s concentrate on the idea that no matter how many times I wish I could give my children these once in a lifetime experiences, I am a middle class mother who lives on one income and struggles to make ends meet. Life has created dreams, but it doesn’t give you a way to make them come true.

I want my children to walk up to those tigers (they are behind a glass wall). I want my children to swim with dolphins. I want my children to experience the grandeur of a palace that once housed kings and queens. I want to give my children skiing lessons. I want my children to see the Northern Lights and what must be God’s incredible spirit. I want them to see a ceiling that was painted by a man lying on his back. And I want to show them these things and more not to cross something off my bucket list but to cross something off their currently unwritten/unknown list.

I know that I can’t give my children these things. I know that this isn’t my fault, my husband’s fault or even my parent’s fault. I know that there are things I can introduce my children to that while maybe not comparable will give them a sense of the wonder this world has to offer. This world, beyond the day to day drudgery, actually has incredible wonders. And who am I to deny them the experience?

I have often said that motherhood is full of heartache. Not only because our children leave the safety of our arms for their own piece of the world, but because often all that we could wish for them isn’t in reality possible. Is it possible that my children will grow and see these things for themselves? Yep. Is it possible they will take me with them? Yep. Is it possible that either one of them will be the next Derek Jeter. Trust me – no.

But to give them that glimpse when the magic of childhood is still upon them is a dream too devastating to ever give up. So I will dream, so I will plan. And in the meantime, I will pay the bills due and hope one day for a miracle cash flow that would allow me to give them all this and more.