I have been dreaming about decorating a little girl’s room for some time now…18 years to be exact. When I was pregnant with my first child, we didn’t know the gender of the baby. We chose a neutral Noah’s Ark bedroom set to put on our baby registry. Our baby girl seemed to be delighted with her bedroom. This also worked for our next baby, a boy who was born 18 months later. Areli and Cole shared a room and the animals in muted colors worked great for them.
However, when Areli turned three she became a big girl almost overnight. She was totally potty-trained and moved into a big bed. As I searched for the perfect comforter set, I began to dream of decorating a room for her. Perhaps soon we would move to a bigger home and Areli could have her own room, a GIRL’S room!
I found a lovely comforter and sheet set called, “Mariposa.” It had butterflies on a purple and yellow back ground. For the next few years I played with decorating ideas. I would paint imaginary walls in my mind, first bright yellow, then lavender. I would experiment with different colors of curtains. I decided that I would frame the adorable Anne Geddes baby butterflies in white frames and put them up all over the walls. The most beautiful little girl’s room began to take shape, and I was so proud of myself. Areli was going to be thrilled!
The years passed and we never did get a home big enough to give Areli her own room. We never had the time or money to paint walls and decorate, and then we rented for several years. Boring white walls became the norm for us.
Finally we moved into our own home and Areli got the largest bedroom…to share with two brothers. Eventually the brothers moved out and a sister moved in. There was even a baby in there a few times. Yet we never seemed able to patch the cracking walls and paint over the dull and faded yellow.
I still held on to my dream of a purple and yellow room for Areli. However, Areli was now growing up and developing her own dreams. I realized that purple, yellow, and butterflies had nothing to do with her dreams. She preferred green, blue, horses, football, and photography. She had developed tastes that were totally different from mine! How did this happen?
This is all that is left of my dreams.
A picture that is being stored in the attic and faded old sheets that used to be purple.
This year Areli turned 18. She has grown into a beautiful and capable young woman. She is so very like me, yet so totally different.
She has different tastes in books, movies, clothes, and interior decorating. She still loves green and blue and football and photography. She helps so much around our home. She loves and serves her family everyday with grace and endurance.
It was finally time for a bedroom makeover – ARELI STYLE!
Chris had a week off of work right around Areli’s 18th birthday. He spent much of it fixing her walls, painting, and hanging window treatments and decorations.
Areli picked the color “Electric Lime.” When I saw it on the wall for the first time I thought, “Oh my! Was that really what Areli wanted?”
SHE LOVES IT! Her dream had become a reality! Now she has the perfect girl’s room in which to do her school work, hang out, and rest. She still has to share it with a younger sister, but I think she feels like it is finally truly a room for HER, designed by her.
Areli graduates from High School in less than two weeks. She has worked ahead and has already finished all of her classes with straight As. She is going to work on her photography over the summer and get a job in the fall. Her plan is to attend a Discipleship Training School with Youth With a Mission the following year. I am excited for her! The sky is the limit and the possibilities are endless. With all the missions organizations all over the world, she could do anything and go anywhere. Her future potential is boundless!
However, all this is very sad for a mom. When I think about my home without Areli in it, I just want to cry. How will I make it without her? She helps me so much with all the household duties and taking care of the younger children. More importantly, she is a wonderful friend, an oasis of womanly wisdom in a sea of boys. She is the person who always understands me. She is my companion when Chris is working long hours.
The other day I had a precious hour of free time before bed. I decided to spend it connecting with God, sitting on the love-seat in my bedroom. I was going to read and pray and write in my journal. When I entered, I found Areli sitting on my love seat, reading a book that I had always loved, and taking notes in her journal. I felt my heart swell with joy as I realized something. Areli had fully absorbed all I have tried to teach her. She has heeded my instruction, and she has also watched my life and followed my example. She has taken ownership of her faith and she deliberately seeks out truth. She has worked to learn and remember what is important.
She is so much like me yet so different from me…and so much better. My ceiling is her foundation. She is strong and mature…and almost ready to fly.
I want to whoop and holler in excitement for Areli…the successful efforts of my mothering! I want to curl up in a ball and sob for the same reason…for the beautiful “Electric Lime” room that will soon be half-way empty and for the vacant place in my heart.
I am so glad that we finally gave Areli that bedroom makeover that I had always been planning…even if it did take 18 years. Secretly I am hoping it might help her to stay a little longer, and beckon her to return to this safe haven again and again and again.