When she knows everyone is sleeping, when it is quiet everywhere but inside her head, she is thinking that maybe the best thing she will ever do with her life is make sure that her daughter is not anything like her.
It is something she thinks about constantly, how much she wants so very much for her daughter. And if you were on the outside looking in, you might think that she isn't the best one to make this happen, but you would be wrong.
She is sweeping up Cheerios, guiding them into a corner where she will vacuum them up later. She is carrying warm laundry from the dryer to dump on a chair in the family room, and she is thinking how much she hates the folding and the putting away, so much so that there is a mountain of clean, dry clothes waiting for her to tend to that never gets any smaller. She is walking the aisles at the grocery store trying to figure out "what's for dinner" tonight, and she is thinking quietly to herself, "this is what I am doing with my life."
And even though she swears she would never undo anything or anyone, she can't seem to forget the forgotten dreams that nobody knows exist. She knows this for sure: That dreams do not die. They live somewhere inside waiting patiently to be found again.
What she needed more than anything in her life was for someone to tell her that she could do anything, be anything, but she did not have that. Something inside her wasn't strong enough or smart enough or confident enough to do great things, and so she did small things marginally. She never made waves. The stars did not shine for her or on her. Sometimes, many times, she felt wholly invisible.
She knows this for sure as well: She dreams much bigger than she lives and that leaves her wanting more for herself than this, than this.
She tells her daughter the things she never heard herself, things she knows would have made all the difference: that she can do anything, that she should never be so afraid that she becomes paralyzed and does nothing at all, that the world is hers, that she is smart and kind and good and has so much to offer. She tells her daughter to keep her voice loud and unwavering, and to never lose it or let it be drowned out by people who cannot know the huge potential that lives inside her. She tells her daughter that she believes in her with her heart. She tells her to reach for more and to settle for nothing but the best. She tells her daughter that she is loved immeasurably, unconditionally, forever.
She is putting silverware away in their proper places thinking that someone has to do it so it might as well be her. She is wiping down mirrors she knows will be smeared by mid-afternoon but she loves the smell of Windex so this doesn't bother her too much. She is counting the minutes until her children go to bed so she can have some semblance of peace at the end of a day where she keeps feeling her spirit being crushed by people who look past her, in search of something more.
At night, she counts her blessings in groups of five because it is good to remember the many things she has been told she should be grateful for. Now when she closes her eyes, she dreams big for her daughter. She resolves once again to do the best she can do with the ordinary life she hadn't planned on.