“I had a good dream last night,” I said, looking in the rearview mirror at Alex. He was strapped into his car seat, staring out the window. When he heard my voice, he looked up at me, as I broke his sleepy, early morning trance.
“Do you know what a dream is?” I playfully asked him.
His teacher at Mom’s House had told me that the average vocabulary for a two-year-old is about fifty words, and that over the next year, that number should increase by at least another two hundred. This made me wonder how many new words I had learned over the last few years of nursing school.
The flash cards for my upcoming exam were tucked in my backpack on the passenger seat. Sometimes on the way to dropping Alex off at Mom’s House, I’d recite them during my drive. Auscultation. Definition: Externally listening to sounds from within the body to determine conditions. I’d say aloud, and Alex would just look at me blankly. It’s all gibberish to him.
Looking back again at Alex, I continued with a mini vocabulary lesson.
“A dream is kind of like watching a movie when you sleep,” I described. “In my dream, I was on my way to pick you up from daycare. I was wearing my nurse’s scrubs and my stessy was around my neck.”
“Stessy, boom!” he announced, imitating the sound of a heartbeat through my stethoscope.
“That’s right, you love listening to your heart with Mommy’s stessy, don’t you?”
“Buh-boom-buh-boom!” he said loudly.
“So, when I got to Mom’s House with my stessy around my neck, you were in the doorway waiting for me. You were much older than you are now. You had a blue dress shirt on, with a cute little red bowtie and were holding onto a balloon that said Congratulations!” I said as I let the dream unfold.
Alex and I’s journey together had been a tough one to say the least. When I found out I was pregnant, my parents kicked me out of the house. I was just a freshman in college at UT and had no idea how I was going to support myself and a newborn baby.
For nights on end, I’d cry to myself to sleep, knowing I was going to have to drop out of school and find work. My dream of being a nurse was going to have to end.
When I went to talk to my counselor about withdrawing from UT, she suggested that I speak with the people at Mom’s House before I made my official decision to drop out entirely.
I couldn’t believe the services Mom’s House was able to offer. All the costly things I couldn’t afford for Alex, like childcare and early learning, could all be provided at no-cost. So, I found a small and affordable apartment near campus, worked a job in the early morning and took classes in the afternoon to make ends meet.
Continuing with my dream, I smiled, remembering this was the part where Alex reached out for my hand. “You guided me through the halls,” I said to him as he intently listened. “There were balloons and streamers everywhere and everyone we passed said things like ‘Congrats’ and ‘You must be so proud.’”
“At first, I thought the party was for me. That I had finally graduated from school and was working as a nurse.”
“You led me into a room where your teacher handed me a rolled up piece of paper. You looked up at me and asked, ‘What’s it say, Mom?’”
Looking at Alex in the rearview, I knew he didn’t understand the story I was telling him. But, honestly, he was usually the only person in the room I had to talk to. Work, school and being a mom didn’t really give me a lot of free time.
“At first, I thought it was my diploma. But, after opening it, I saw that it was a picture of you and me the day you were born. I held the picture in one hand, and the stessy over my heart in the other.”
The dream wasn’t about my journey or his journey, but our journey, together. Everything I do isn’t just for me – it’s for us, so that we can live a better life. Without Mom’s House, who knows where we’d be today. Regardless of what the future holds, I know we’ll be okay.
“And what do you think you said, when I placed the stessy on my chest?” I asked him.
“Buh-boom!” he said with a smile.
“That’s right. Mom’s heart went buh-boom. Always buh-boom for you.”
This post is brought to you by the generous support of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) – Toledo Assembly Complex. Employing nearly 6,000 workers locally, FCA’s mission to “Go Anywhere, Do Anything” is reflective of their drive to build our community through giving and volunteerism.
*This blog post is fictional but based on a real success story submitted by Mom’s House of Toledo – Early Childhood Education” program. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the individual’s personal successes and struggles.