This year has come and gone in one giant overnight growth spurt. I’m still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, looking for a smaller child.

You know that dream about missing an assignment? That is how I feel about this year. I’ve lost it.

I’m a grown woman, but I still divide my years by summers.

Last summer I made a conscious choice. I would work my tail off this year. Whatever it took. Long hours, multiple jobs. I had a steady goal in sight. Another summer abroad.

Leaving home was the ticket to really being there. A present summer.


My family indulged me in my castle-in-the-sky building. They nodded and acted as if it could really happen – though in retrospect, I’m not sure they were ever really on board. It was my dream, not theirs.  They didn’t dare stand in my way.

They saw the deadened look in my eyes, as I drove carpool in endless loops, conducting dull conference calls from the van. Caged bird.

For a long time, I’ve been playing a part and putting myself last. Husband, kids, parents, work… me. The price is steep both in dollars and dreams.

Clipped wings and delayed dreams have nibbled at the edges and taken bites out of who I am.

I do the work and smile the smiles, but I’m almost ashamed to admit, my heart is somewhere else, or perhaps no place at all. It beats mechanically, pumped by the machine I am connected to.  I’m Frankenstein, pieced together from all the parts I’ve shaped to please those I love.

Summer travel was the dream that got me up every morning and kept me awake for hundreds of late nights over the past year. It consumed my weekends and my social life.

Sometime between April and May I had to give it all up. Every last drop of my savings were needed for other, more pressing expenses.  I wasn’t even surprised this time. Just tired. It was predictable. Unavoidable.

So, gone. A year of hard earned cash. All my dreams of a present summer, of an escape. But the loss, the loss I’m still mourning, is greater than that. I didn’t just lose the summer. I lost that last piece of myself that had the confidence to strive for a selfish goal. The cost was too dear.

I lost the year. My children’s and mine.  In my urge to escape, I already left.

Money can be recouped. Time and sometimes relationships, cannot.


We have no plans for summer now. I cannot take a moment off from my work. My children will watch television and bicker and make messes that I will yell about, as I struggle to get my work done.

We all pretend nothing happened. Nothing at all. You can’t bury a dream in an invisible box. There is no grave for my broken heart, the one that beat on it’s own.

I hate myself for feeling so sorry for myself. First world problems.

Pump, pump, pump. The mechanical heart keeps beating. Ping, ping, ping, my work messages vie with my hungry six year old’s pleas for a sandwich. My cage keeps getting smaller, and smaller.

This isn’t really who I am.  I long for a future where I can be present.


Ciaran 200x100 SIG

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