Dreaming is for teenagers, people who have nothing better to do than lie on the hood of their beat up car and stare at the night sky. For people who can stay up late and not pay for it the next morning, with no one but themselves to feed breakfast.
Dreaming is for college students, for people whose parents still list them on their health insurance. For dorm rooms and coffee shops with acoustic guitars ever-present and couches pulled in off of street corners smelling vaguely like mildew and cigarette smoke.
Dreaming is for newlyweds, for couples holding mao-tai’s on a beach in Jamaica, or in their parents tent sipping a cheap bottle of gas station champagne as they talk about ten years from now when they will have a house and some kids and enough money in the bank for a real honeymoon the second time around. The grandparents will take the kids and the couple will fly to Hawaii, first class.
But dreams are not for me. The kids are in the patched up kiddie pool in the back as I stand at the kitchen counter typing with one eye on the splashing and shouting praying the duct tape holds for another 20 minutes, just until I can get the words out. They are naked again. Swim suits cost me too much time.
We are quickly approaching that ten-year mark, my husband and I, and even my body seems to be fighting the dreams. Dreamers don’t have muffin tops, or full-time jobs, or kids that need health insurance. Dreamers aren’t supposed to be interrupted by thoughts of responsibility and who will pay the light bill. I need to go to the grocery store and the Goodwill; I don’t have time for dreams.
It is my tenth week, my last week, in an e-course signed up for on a whim. On a whim I may have altered my life. (I know it sounds hyperbolic, but it truly has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.) Elora is asking us to dream. To put away the what-ifs and the how is that possibles. To simply sit, blank page in front of us and pour out the things that are hidden in our hearts.
I leave the TV on so I won’t become fully engrossed in this activity. I am afraid it is going to hurt. I know it is going to hurt. I think if I can distract myself enough I will be able to keep a part of myself protected. I underestimate the depths and volume of this calling of my heart, this thing they call a dream. It is loud, LOUD and big and a little scary. And now it is on a less than blank page, refusing to be ignored.
The first time I opened the email with this week’s instructions, I shut it immediately. Who has time for dreaming? Not me. I have kids to raise, dinner to cook, groceries to buy, a school year to prep for. I have a book to write. I do not have time for dreaming, I have a baby who won’t go to bed.
Moms aren’t supposed to dream for themselves. The dreams should be folded up and tucked away, replaced with onesies and swaddle blankets. For now at least, those dreams belong to your babies. That is the lie I have been believing: These dreams of mine have an expiration date; my dreams and my children cannot go-exist. My creativity must now belong to motherhood. Here I am, two small children and a dream, none of whom will be ignored, all three shouting at me to be fed.
I write at the kitchen counter as the kids come in and ask for waffles for lunch. Waffles in the toaster, I realize we are out of syrup and spread some jam my friend made on top. The girls clamber for more. Later, I am writing in the car in the parking lot of the grocery store, both of my children asleep in the back seat and I realize that while feeding my children and my dream I only managed to feed myself the bits of waffle my youngest threw on the floor. Will feeding my dreams will always leave me this hungry?
I’ve tried to pack away my dreams, to leave them folded carefully away in a plastic bin labeled, some day. I have tried to wait them out, to throw them out, to simply ignore them. It leaves me hungrier than coffee for breakfast and half a jam smeared waffle off of the floor for lunch. Like these girls I grew tucked safely in my womb, these dreams grown in my heart were given to me, and are demanding and impossible to ignore. It is part of their charm. I love all of them just like that. I’m a mom with a dream. I’m the mom of a dream.
Maybe dreams are for moms too. Maybe dreams are for people who go about their day at the grocery store, drive their kids in a circle in the mini-van until everyone’s head slowly drops to the side, maybe some days nap time is for dreaming cramped in the driver’s seat of the mini-van or standing at the kitchen counter just trying to get the words out. Maybe suppressing these dreams is a waste of my time and with everything on my to-do list I shouldn’t add that.
Maybe I don’t have time not to dream.
If you are a person with a dream of writing, even just writing better for yourself or your students or your kids, if you are sure you don’t belong anywhere and need a creative community seriously consider Elora’s class. There is space for you, if you are hungry you will be fed there.
This isn’t totally without self-interest. If you tell her I sent you I get a discount on her 201 class, and can afford it. I would be very grateful.
Love this. Let’s keep dreaming. Xx
I’m not a mom yet, and yet this felt totally relatable to me. Maybe it’s because I have been afraid to admit that I’m afraid that being a mother and having dreams can’t coexist, just like you said. I’m always afraid I’ll have to choose one or the other, or that if I wait to be ready to have kids until some of my writing dreams are accomplished, then I’ll never have them at all. Thanks for being so honest about this, Abby.
Thanks. It is good for me also to know I am not alone. And I think that his line of thinking isn’t just for moms. And the choosing, oh the choosing! Sometimes I have to choose pieces of one or the other, but I think I can have both!
I hear echoes of my “thirties” in your post! There was a point in my life, two years past the death of my mother (who was my best friend), baby on my hip, five year old running around, teaching six years in the past (or so I thought) and nothing, really, lying ahead. I was dead inside, had hit rock bottom despite the blessings of a loving husband, family, and home. I had forgotten how to dream! It took exercise (literally–I was a lump, physically), a new job (back in education), and getting a new degree to get me fired up again. Hang in there; we are not only allowed to dream, we need to, for our own mental, emotional, and spiritual help.
*Absolutely!* Just, YES! Dreams expand and take shape even as our children sprawl and wriggle, question and grow. In fact, the day will come when your children will not only not need you to dream for them, they’ll challenge you to dream bigger for yourself. It’s glorious! And I’m so very, very excited to see your dream unfold; it may clamor loudly now, demandingly famished, but one day it will be a feast! Thrilled for you, Abby!!!
Ditto to what you wrote. We are kindred spirits in so many ways. However, I am giving you permission (and myself too, though I also need reminders) to continue dreaming. Even as moms, we deserve it! Hugs!
Janet, TAKE THE CLASS! Seriously. Do it. It has been amazing!
I just wanted to Hammer the word “yes” over and over again. making e.v.e.r.y. letter count.
Yes. Dream. yes. and cheers. You can do this. You are doing this. Yes.
I like you.