Sitting with my daughter this morning, I was busy making my grocery list while she colored. Half listening to her chatter, I caught words like “dark red,” “orange” and “purple.” She then said, “Mommy, look what color I am coloring her house.” Distractedly, I glanced up and looked at her latest creation. “Oh, purple. How nice. I always wanted to live in a purple house.” A big smile spread over her face, accentuating her dimple. “Mommy, we are! Look!” Slightly annoyed at the second interruption to my all-important grocery list, I looked towards the room where she pointed. Glancing into our light lavender living room, I realized, she was right, we do.

As I grew older, the dream began to shiftGrowing up, everyone has expectations and dreams of what they would like their life to be like. I remember that there was a distinct period of time in which I truly believed that I was the heir to the royal throne of some far-flung country. I just knew that one day, some guy in a red suit and furry black hat was going to come and reclaim me to my rightful place, and prepare me to fulfill my destiny. Prancing around my room, I practiced my royal wave, flashing my photogenic smile to the mirror, bending gracefully to accept flowers and gifts from all of the well-wishers that would come out to greet me. I had a captive audience of Cabbage Patch dolls and stuffed animals then. Watching them lean onto each other for support, I would graciously accept their offerings while smiling and murmuring my thanks. Stepping into my limo at the end of the visit, I would sigh contentedly and imagine telling the prince that we should go out for some ice cream.

As I grew older, the dream began to shift. Realizing that most American Jewish girls from New Jersey probably did not have the proper family connections with which to claim the throne, I set my sights on other goals. College, a job, husband and kids became the goal. A nice house in the suburbs with a minivan and a pool in the back rounded out the picture. Continuing on the cycle of life, like my parents and family before me, this goal seemed attainable and realistic.

Then came Judaism. A lot of the goals stayed the same, but changed ever so slightly, with a different taste to them. Kippahs and skirts entered, tzitzit and tights. The blessing on the wine and bread, praying and G‑d got thrown into the mix. A couple of decades into all of this, sometimes, the luster dulls. Faced with a mound of dirty laundry and two sinks of dirty dishes, I find myself wondering if maybe I should have pursued the princess thing a little more.

I find myself reflecting on life’s choices, and wondering if I got what I always wantedI find myself reflecting on life’s choices, and wondering if I got what I always wanted. After talking with my daughter, I came to the realization that it’s not all waving and smiling and accepting gifts from well-wishers. Thank G‑d, I got the husband and the kids. Instead of the house in the suburbs, I live in an apartment. But I definitely came out better in that deal, as I live in Israel. With the hot summers, the pool would be nice, but then again, who am I fooling? With little ones running around, I am thankful that I don’t have the worry of pool safety. And, with all of my failed attempts at balcony gardening, could I really maintain a pool? So, where is the room for the complaints?

I think that it stems from our need to realize that reality is hardly ever as glamorous as our dreams. When I was young, I didn’t notice the stinky diapers and the kvetching kids, and the houses seemed to clean themselves. But they don’t. Looking back at what I thought was the ultimate dream, I didn’t realize that dreams need to be based in reality. It’s the ability to take these steps to create the dream.

I saw the struggle. But I didn’t really see it. Sometimes, I still don’t, but there are moments when I do. Comparing my childhood dreams to my present reality, I am happy that so much has come to fruition. And there are times that I am not. The purple living room? It’s a nice shade, but sometimes I struggle to see the paint for the scuff marks and the crayon scribbles. In the eyes of my five-year-old, those imperfections don’t even register. She just sees that Mommy gets to live in the purple house that she always wanted. She thinks I am lucky. I think she is right.