I used to hold a very strong belief about motherhood.
Long before my little ones were even a wish in my heart, long before I had met their Daddy, long before I should have been thinking about babies and family and anyone’s dreams but my own, I strongly believed one thing. I believed that when it was time, when I became a mother, I would simply give my all to it. I would leave my own wants and needs and dreams and plans aside and I would devote myself to the new dreams growing within the little humans I had birthed. I would, I believed, leave my job and stay at home and be theirs, all theirs.
Of course, I also believed that by the time they rested my firstborn on my chest, that I’d be wildly successful at whatever it was that I’d figured out I was good at. I’d be wealthy and famous and people would know my name and associate it with that thing I’d figured out was the intersection of my talents and my passions. And so, having already achieved all of my life’s dreams, I’d gracefully step into the streams of their dreams, lifting them up to the places they wanted to reach.
Of course, the wisdom of years and dreaming and reaching and simply living has taught me that life doesn’t work that way. It isn’t sequential. Very much unlike school, it isn’t ‘do these things first and then those and then you can do what’s next.’ It isn’t completing and attaining before moving on.
Life is chaotic and tangled and in that tangle and chaotic it is beautiful. But it is also messy. Very, very messy.
And so I didn’t lasso my dreams and pull them down from the sky and make them my real life before my babies were born. In fact, I didn’t even realize what my dreams were until I watched them sleep. Until I felt them cradled in my arms and I knew that all of the emotions and feelings washing over my heart needed words. Until I found those words and then some more and then started weaving them into stories and the weaving felt so so good. The intersection of my talents and my passions.
And it’s wonderful to have found my dream. To know what it is and what it’s called and what it looks like.
Because this is a much better way to usher their dreams along. Rather than pushing and telling I’m showing and modeling this for them. Creating a this-is-what-we-do sort of aura around going after your dreams.
But it’s so very very messy, you know?
Because although we talk about balance as mothers all the time, we don’t talk about this balance. The balance of dreaming and reaching for your own dreams while laying the foundation for theirs. We don’t talk about how to keep it all straight. To find the space in my heart for all of the things I want for them nestled against the things I want for myself. Forget about finding the time to write and put myself out there amidst packing lunches and sweeping up cheerios because that we’ll figure out. It may mean less sleep, but that one’s a problem logistics can solve and we all keep on living and dreaming even if we step on a cheerio from time to time.
But protecting and nurturing more than one dream is hard. It’s messy and chaotic. And the balance eludes me. I dive into my own dreams and plans and goals and I swim and I swim and I swim and when I come up for air I see that while I’ve been submerged, I’ve been missing things. And so I dive into them and I breathe in their dreams and my dreams for them. And I swim amidst a sea of ice cream cones and Elsa dresses and a love of reading and creative outlets and good friends and solid schooling and good foundations and all of the experiences we all want. And that swim is lovely and easy and feels so comfortable. Because isn’t it always easier to live in someone else’s dream?
And then I come up for air and I’ve missed some things again but my dream is still there. And so back and forth and back and forth I go.
And I’m working on my form and I’m practicing the dream-a-dream two-step. (And I’m mixing metaphors but you know what I mean.) Because, of course, this is what it really means to give my all to it. To devote myself to the dreams growing within the little humans I’ve birthed doesn’t, it turns out, mean leaving mine behind. In fact, it means quite the opposite.