Marnie Butcher Piehl
(Michelle Farnsworth)

(Michelle Farnsworth)

(Michelle Farnsworth)

Marnie and son, Owen, share some chicken bonding time. Chickens courtesy of Bradley Chicken Coop. (Michelle Farnsworth)

There are things I want to do, and then things I wish I wanted to do. I wish I wanted to hear, in detail, the complex recaps of my boys' video games. I wish I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom and to can, jelly and pickle. I would love it if I had a desire to knit, crochet, scrapbook, train for a marathon, skydive and travel to India. I wish I wanted to make perfect gravy, study for my doctorate, get CPR-certified and be a birder.

But I don't.

I would like to do any number of things. Like any working mom, doing things for pleasure is a matter of time, space, workload, family and friends, but sometimes all those things align and I accomplish new things. I garden. I practice yoga. I dabble in furniture refinishing. But I aspire both to actually do more and to want to do more.

I want to identify more plants and flowers. We moved last year to the wilds of rural Mandan and between the leafy spurge, the poison ivy and the pretty purple somethings growing along the creek, I am more interested in flora and fauna all the time. My amazing mother-in-law used to go into the hills surrounding their rural home, pick rosehips and crush them into juice that she would provide to her four children as their daily dose of vitamin C. I know what rosehips look like. I wish I wanted to nourish my children with them.

I'd like to raise chickens. Actually, I'd like to collect the beautiful, multicolored eggs of happily clucking chickens that live close to me in artfully-aged coops that look like chicken cottages rather than coops (see the April issue of Martha Stewart Living). I wish I wanted to butcher said chickens once their egg laying days were over, then pluck and scald and roast them for the nourishment of my family.

I wish I wanted to cook everything. Or anything. I would like to cook Thai food. Peanut butter and limes are often involved, and, while I rarely have Midwestern staples like cream of mushroom soup or sugar, I almost always have PB and citrus. But, first, I need lessons and the ability to begin cooking at 3 p.m. every day in order to put the food on the table in a leisurely manner. And, I'd need to be left alone with good music and wine while I do it. And the kids would have to like it ... I think I really wish I didn't feel bad about what I actually feed them.

I wish I always felt like a great mom.

I wish I'd finished my master's. I'll get to it, but I love to sleep too much to do it now. I'm only a few years out from the interrupted nights of small children and the same number out from the interrupted nights of teenagers. I'll likely do it then -- I mean, I'll be up anyway.

I don't know when or if I'll get to the rest of the things I want to do. And I may never want to do any of the things I wish I wanted to do. But, the thing I want most is to be engaged in my life right now -- baseball practice, music, garden tomatoes, laughing boys, work deadlines and date nights. The rest of it can wait.

Marnie Butcher Piehl lives in Mandan with one husband, two dogs and three sons. Most days find her happily working, gardening, reading and running around with her boys.