Year ago, when my kids were toddlers and I was one massively overwhelmed mom, I drove past my perfect house. I was running errands and I just happened to look through some trees and there it was -- a white sided, two-story with a huge wrap-around porch and dormer windows with dark green shutters. Had I not been on a two lane road, I would have stopped and taken a picture or just sat and admired it. It called to me.
Not the actual house -- but you get the idea.
It was so Norman Rockwell. I just knew whatever family lived there spent their days calmly and happily frolicking about, raising lots of super-happy, perfect children. We needed that house. Never mind that it wasn't for sale and it was appraised for over $500,000 and it was in a part of town that was in a rapid decline. We needed it. I was sure that it contained some sort of magic that would transform me into a Norman Rockwell Mommy. And that house would make my kids sound sleepers who didn't climb on everything and put everything they found into their mouths. Yes, I was riding on the crazy train, but in my defense, I was at least three years sleep deprived and not functioning well. On the other hand, that is the exact logic people use everyday when they decide they must have some item; that the item will give them something that they don't already have (but want desperately). It's usually status, or prestige, or perceived good looks; but people pay way too much for things that don't fit in their lifestyle everyday. I could have obsessed about the house and set goals to get it (or one like it). That sounds like a great goal, to get this totally sweet, old-fashiony, house. But if I would have achieved it; I would have spent years (and a boat load of money) then really felt let down and disappointed. But, it dawned on me when I was doing a drive by one day. (Yes, I used to drive by just to see it like I was some love-sick teenager.) I pictured me and my family in the house, and hard as I tried, we couldn't fit into the Norman Rockwell molds. I would still be overwhelmed and short on sleep, my sons would still be super curious kids who had to be watched and monitored more than most, and we would also have a huge debt load and more house to clean. Reality bites. No one wants to admit it, but we make over-the-top purchases every day, secretly hoping they will be magic. From designer purses to luxury cars, we buy things we can hardly afford hoping they will transform our lives into those we wish we had. It seems like an easy fix, a way to transform the lives we have into the life of our dreams. Losing weight can carry the same illusion. We believe (or wish) that traits we don't like would magically disappear along with 50 lbs. of fat and better ones would appear in their place.
Personal transformations can happen, but they take time, and introspection and usually walking through some pain to get to the other side. Sometimes the catalyst for a transformation is the lack of fulfillment we get from a dream house, or car, or whatever. The magic is actually there, is just in the disappointment, not the satisfaction.