“I have a sliver!” he shouted, charging across the yard with purpose and urgency. This all-too-familiar phrase carried with it copious amounts of sobbing, not necessarily from immediate pain… but more from anticipated pain to come.
Grabbing his blond head, I drew him in, kissing his cheeks with skin so soft and innocent. “I’m so sorry, buddy. Where is it? Let me see…”
His blubbering paused. Unshed tears receding into the steel blue pools of his widened-with-alarm eyes. “I can’t,” he whispered. “Not here.” He frantically glanced about as if someone was dangerously close to overhearing.
Even more curious, I leaned in and whispered back, “Why not?”
“Because,” he choked out, tears bursting through like water over a dam, “because it’s in my butt!” And with that, he collapsed into my arms. Surrendering to his unavoidable fate: The Removal.
Now, I’ve pulled out a lot of splinters in my previous 12 years of parenting, but this was a first. But thanks to the distracting power of the Minions movie, the mission was completed with minimal trauma, damage, or pushback. And as I slapped a polka-dotted band-aid on that little pink tush, I chuckled and muttered to myself, “I am living the dream!”
You see, growing up I was certain of one thing: I wanted to be a mom. Sure, I also wanted to be an astronaut, archaeologist, car mechanic, singer, Star Trek character, and many other professions worthy of the elementary-aged devotion. But the title of “mommy” was the one I was certain of – that was my dream.
And yet sometimes, dreams end up looking different than you imagined.
Digging splinters out of a buttocks wasn’t exactly what my 8-year-old-self pictured. But neither was difficult pregnancies, breastfeeding issues, painful follow-up surgeries, colic, infant reflux, sleep challenges, and postpartum depression… just to name a few.
Often the things we wish for and goals we push for are ultimately achieved by traveling a path we wouldn’t dare attempt had we been privy to the arduous journey required ahead of time. Which is how we embark on the adventure of motherhood. Taking the obstacles as they come, trusting the end result will be worth the work of getting there.
When I discovered I was pregnant with my first, the nausea was almost immediate. Then, the unrelenting seasickness gave way to loud – and completely involuntary – gagging. (Wonderful. I’d always dreamt of being a spectacle in the meat section of Target.) And as this happened with every child I carried, at one point my husband threw me a “Happy 1st Throw-up” party to mark the milestone complete with a card, sign, flowers, and cupcakes.
So yeah… Sometimes dreams look different in the end. But that doesn’t make them any less. We change. Our circumstances change. Our goals change. So why shouldn’t our dreams do the same?
My dream was to be a stay-at-home mom, which I was able to do for many years before going back to work half-time. Needs change. Budgets change. Jobs change. Instead of feeling like my dream of being a SAHM died, I look at it as being able to meet that dream half-way. By working half-time, I still get to be with my kids more than if I was full-time while helping to provide for my family. It’s kinda like I’m meeting TWO dreams at once!
Sometimes with life’s curveballs, you simply need to find the dream within the dream. For example, I love being physically active and rarely shy away from a challenge. So, after my second kiddo was born, I started running. I wanted to be one of those super-moms doing triathlons and running half-marathons. Mainly to prove I could do it. Then came kid number 3 – somewhat unexpectedly – and instead of running on race day, I was puking from my reclined position on the couch.
As life would have it, rough pregnancies, physical injuries, and (if I’m honest) age took a toll on my body. Running was no longer the best thing for me. At first, I was SO disappointed that I would never get to check that box on my goals-and-dreams-list. But as I began to think about it, my main dream was staying active for myself, my body and my family. I could still do that! Hiking, biking, walking – all ways I love staying active!
Further, I’ve come to realize that before you cling too tightly to your list of dreams and goals, remember it is an ever-evolving thing. There may be even MORE dreams out there as you grow through the chapters of your life.
When we decided our family was (at least biologically) complete, I felt a HUGE letdown in my soul. Late one night over dark chocolate and lots of tears, I realized: My dream of being a mommy was complete. I had done it. There would be no more babies growing in this body. No more expectant visits to the doctor or wandering thoughts of who might this be joining our family. It was over.
Dramatic? Yes. Honest? Also, yes. I knew I had years of mothering yet ahead, but the finality of being the full-time caretaker to tiny ones was now set. And all I could do was sob. My husband ever-so-gently told me it was okay to be sad, but that maybe – when I was ready – I could dream NEW dreams.
Whoa. This was life-altering. Was that even possible? How long had it been since I’d let myself dream about… me?
Maybe it was time to revisit some dreams I had set aside to focus on my kids and raising a family. Maybe there was room opening up for another dream.
So on a rare evening alone at a Caribou Coffee, I wrote out a list of things I once had an interest in doing. And then, as the months went along, I started doing those things one at a time. Some felt fun… some ill-fitting… some not really my thing after all. But then there was this one thing – something that filled me with passionate energy and lasting joy. What was it? Writing. I remembered that I LOVE to write.
Now, what about you? It’s your turn! If you are like me, taking the time to ask yourself reflective questions isn’t at the top of your to-do list. But it is valuable for growth. So, take 10 minutes, grab your favorite beverage and a scrap of paper… and let’s dream together!
- Are you allowing your dreams to change and grow along with you, your family, and your circumstances? Which ones have changed? How?
- When you find that one dream is no longer achievable or feasible, is there a bigger dream within that can still be met?
- What things do you currently enjoy doing or want to learn more about? Are there old dreams that are ready to be dusted off and explored? Write them all down, even the silly ones.
- Now, take that faith-step and try them out. Happy dreaming, friends!