It had been a long hard few weeks and I was done. I’d had it. The the bathroom was all kinds of stinky and the house in general was in need of a hazardous waste clean-up. On top of that, the baby was in a sagging diaper and letting everyone know about it. The 10-year-old girl was having an emotional meltdown. The 8-year-old boy was mercilessly taunting and teasing his younger sisters like a fire in a dry field. After putting kids to bed that night, I found myself wondering, “Will someone remind me why I wanted to do this?” I realized I’d really lost my enthusiasm for motherhood lately and was spending time every day contemplating all the things I wish I were doing and daydreaming about unfulfilled dreams.
I decided to pull myself together and listen to a podcast from The Power of Moms (my lifeline on hard days) while mopping my kitchen floor. The podcast that caught my eye was Will You Dare to Dream with April Perry and Whitney Johnson, Whitney said some things that totally struck a chord with me. She suggested thinking back to your childhood or youth and remembering what you liked to do when you were a little girl and why and what makes you happy. As I listened I was struck with the most startling revelation. I have always wanted to be a mom. That’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. One of my favorite past times as a child was “playing mom.” As a youth and young adult, I couldn’t wait until I married and had children of my own. I was struck dumb, speechless. In essence, the shocking truth was, I was already living my dream.
It’s true, at a younger age, I didn’t realize what a challenge it is to be a mom and how draining the daily grind of mom-responsibilities can be. I think the actual reality and challenge of being a mom is a surprise to most women, as is the overwhelming joy and love you feel toward your children. Nothing really prepares you for the dichotomy of emotion you experience as a parent. But realizing that being a mom was a fulfillment of a dream since childhood for me suddenly changed my perspective and I found myself viewing my life in a more positive and optimistic way.
Instead of dreading the daily grind of raising children and keeping a house, I reminded myself that I really did want this. This was my dream. This is my dream. I realized I need to focus on the payoffs and the serendipitous moments of family life, instead of the sacrifices and hard stuff involved in being a full-time mom.
As I continued to reflect on what I had loved to do as a young person, I discovered I had had other dreams as well, beyond being a mother. I loved to dance. I still do. I used to think I could dance in New York Cityif I tried hard enough. I remember sitting in a movie theater watching the new release, “HairSpray.” I wanted to be one of those characters so badly, dancing and singing across the screen or stage with wild abandon. And for a moment, I thought, “If that production ever comes to my state, I’m absolutely trying out. I can do that!” Then reality struck as I realized I was a 30-something year old, pregnant with my 3rd child. That’s a far cry from the high school and college age girls who would also be auditioning.
Yes, my life has changed and perhaps I can’t fulfill my dreams in the same way I thought I would. I’m now a mother of 5, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still dance. It has always been quite common to see me dancing on my new stage, the kitchen floor.
Now, in an effort to start living my dreams, I signed myself up for a dance class, twice a week. I also led a “Performing Arts Camp” this summer at my home for a week. This allowed me to share my talents, dreams and joy with my children and their friends. And that was just the beginning. I’ve also always enjoyed playing the piano and writing. I searched out a piano solo I knew would be somewhat of a challenge and made sure I got my practice time in, right along with the kids. I recently performed that piece for my church congregation. I’ve also started carving out slivers of time to write again, both for myself and various websites.
Through these opportunities, I’ve been able to reconnect with the aspects of myself that have been hidden and neglected in my focus on raising a family. Re-discovering my dreams and making time for them has introduced a more hopeful, optimistic attitude in my daily activities.
It’s important to note that living your dreams does not mean you have a free pass to abandon motherly responsibilities or to focus only on yourself and neglect the family you have chosen to lead. As a mother, I’m not free to fly toNew Yorkand give it a go. Instead, I take my dance class at night, after most of the kids are in bed. And I find ways to fulfill my dreams that involve my children, such as the summer camp. But I’ve found that I CAN fulfill my dreams and desires in an appropriate and responsible way.
I’m still very much a work in progress. And it truly is work. Being the deliberate mother I wanted to be since I was a young girl requires a conscious effort to keep my perspective focused on what matters most and finding a new balance every time life changes. Being a deliberate mother who also wants to live her dreams requires effort to discover and define what those dreams are and then put forth the effort and be creative in finding the time to live them. With effort, my perspective becomes a little clearer and I’m more optimistic than ever. I do dare to dream and I know I can become the mother and the person I’ve always wanted to be.
QUESTION: From the Dare to Dream podcast, “What did you like to do as a little girl and why?”
CHALLENGE: Discover one way to start living one of your dreams this week.