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To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe. – Anatole France
I strongly believe that all women, especially mothers, should make room in their lives to dream. Dream about who they want to be in the world, what they want to accomplish, where they want to go with their lives. Dream about what they want to learn and what they want to see. And then take steps toward those dreams, even if they are teeny tiny ones over a long period of time.
I have heard so many mothers say things like, “Oh, I’ll do that when my kids are grown,” whether *that* is writing that book she has brewing in her heart, or going back to school, or starting a business. Even smaller dreams get set aside, like learning to knit or how to draw. As if we don’t have the right to pursue our dreams when we have kids. As if even by dreaming we are taking something away from our children.
Recently I read Tara Sophia Mohr‘s interview with Whitney Johnson, author of the book Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream . I was fascinated to hear that the inspiration for Whitney’s book was her own conversations with women and girls who were basically telling her, “I don’t believe it is my privilege to dream,” and her wondering, in response, “What is happening here?” She talked about how little girls are socialized from a very young age that dreaming is selfish. That dreaming requires resources: our time, our attention, our money, our energy – that should be spent on others, not on ourselves.
No wonder we say things like, “…when my kids are grown.”
But what if we held the idea of dreaming differently? What if by seeing us dream, our children learn how to dream themselves? Isn’t that something we want them to learn? What if by setting an example of how to dream, how to work toward something we feel passionately about, how to budget our resources of time, attention and energy, our children learn those skills, too?
I’m raising a daughter, and I want her to believe it is her birthright to dream. I don’t want her to put off her dreams for her partner, for her children, for later. I want her to dream all the time. Dream about things that may or may not happen and create a whole constellation of dreams from which she can navigate her life.
Finding time to dream isn’t my struggle. I have lots of dreams, big and small. I dream about places in the world I still want to visit, and paintings I want to make and books I want to read and to write. I dream about getting another college degree and moving to a different state and workshops I want to teach and careers I want to launch. For the last year, launching this blog has been one of my dreams. My struggle is not dreaming, but finding the courage and time to move toward any of them.
It is hard, when parenting a toddler, to find enough consecutive minutes to learn new skills. It took me nine months of reading and trial and error to get this blog to look the way I wanted it and then another month of wavering between excitement and fear that no one cared what I had to say anyway to get the first post written and published. It took putting off loads of laundry and sometimes shorting my sleep and often leaving the kitchen floor unswept. It took letting my daughter spend more time watching DVDs than I would prefer, while I sat next to her on the couch with my laptop and tried to debug code. It will be an ongoing effort to find space in my life to write these posts. It will take an investment in childcare and a few less evenings spent watching movies with my man. But because it is important to me, I’m finding that space.
This is what I want my daughter to learn from me: Trust that your dreams are valuable. Have a vision. Make room for it in the life you have right now. Make your dreams happen.
What are you dreaming about right now? What keeps you from taking steps toward your dream? What one step will you take toward your dream today?