Dreaming for My Daughter

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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?

* Note: This post contains affiliate links.

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5 Responses to Dreaming for My Daughter

  1. Erica Knecht February 13, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    Oh, and my dreams? I’ve got a little business idea that I’m hatching. I’ve nurtured this little dream since Indonesia first appeared as a possibility. It’s stuck with me. I really want it. So and I keep running into posts like yours that point me to taking the steps to make it happen. Now, to remove those imagined barriers! Let’s do it!!

    • Dona Bumgarner February 26, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

      I love what you said about the importance of your daughter knowing her dreams are within her control while being raised third-culture. And whatever that insistent little dream is, I’m rooting for you!

  2. Erica Knecht February 13, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    This is lovely. Really. I read this piece this morning at breakfast and it has stuck around and asked me to come back to comment.
    I hadn’t thought about how many barriers we put up for ourselves as women because we don’t believe our own dreams are worth the investment (time or otherwise) that it can take to bring them to life.
    But that’s totally true! I had a lot of guilt for spending the money to take our course last year, thinking, why spend this money on myself??! But I’m so glad I did. And you’re right, it shows a great example for our daughters. I think I’m going to start talking to my Stella about dreams and taking steps to make them happen. I hope she internalizes that. Especially because we’re raising her as a third-culture-kid and she’ll have challenges of having her world up-rooted and big decisions made for her (re. moving etc), it’s important fo her to know that her dreams are within her control. Great post. Lots of fodder for thought. I may even get around to writing a followup post about this one!

  3. Meaghan Gallant January 22, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    What a beautiful dream for your daughter. It sounds like you are doing a great job leading by example. I hope to instill the same when I have a daughter/son of my own.

    My dreams at the moment? To become self employed and make a living inspiring others to lead playful joyful lives by making healthful choices. And to become an amazing aerialist! I’ve been taking aerial silks classes and am head over heels (no pun intended) in love with it!

    • nurturedmama February 5, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

      Meaghan, those are such gorgeous dreams! An aerialist! So cool!