Sunday, December 7, 2014

Catching up on our Dreams (What DOES happen to a Dream Deferred?)

Think back to when you were little.  You were hopefully told you could do anything.  You spun a globe and put your finger on a country, and thought, Yes! Madagascar really could be the place I end up living as a grown up! Why not?!  

One day, you learned about marine biologists-- that's what you would be!  Then you learned about baby doctors, and then that was the ticket!  Maybe you would draw illustrations for children's books.  Or, if you were like me, you would for sure write books.

Now look at your life today.  Not in a judgmental way.   Don't be hard on yourself.  Circumstances, maturity, finances, health... LIFE, plays into what our lives as grown-ups look like.

Did you become what you hoped?  Do you have a farm filled with shetland ponies?  Do you live in a tiny cottage in England?  Do you have a handsome husband and beautiful children?  Are you a dolphin trainer in Miami?

I remember when I was 20 years old, on my first date with my now-husband (an MBA student at the time) I told him my major, English Literature, and that I was especially interested in modern poetry; he asked, in all bemused seriousness: "So, you want to be...a poet?"  Even then, I thought his MBA-self was hilarious.  No, I didn't necessarily want to be a poet.  Not necessarily.  My realistic side wanted to teach others about the beauty of poetry (and perhaps write a bit on the side).


(My son and me; I didn't know what the ins-and-outs of motherhood would involve, 
but he is a dream-come-true nonetheless)


In many ways, I did get to do that.  I found a unique job teaching high school students with disabilities English literature and writing.  I did find ways to expose them to some of my favorites, and though challenging, I was happy I was doing something I had "planned" on.

When we were dating, I also told my husband of course I wanted kids.  I love kids!  I want a ton of kids!  And I meant it.

But here's the thing, and I can hardly believe my naiveté now:  I had no concept of what raising kids would MEAN in day-to-day life.  How does one teach English AND have a 1 year old?  The reality of it never crossed my mind.  I knew nothing of daycare or this newfangled "SAHM" term.  I babysat in middle school.  That was about it.  I think I must have pictured having kids in kindergarten and up, when they would be in school and I would be working somewhere.

Currently, I have a 2 year-old and a 4.5 year-old.  They have completely consumed my life for the past 5 years.  5 years that I had never pictured back in my dreaming days.  AND YET-- they are exactly what I wanted.  I wanted a career AND a husband AND children.  In some ways, my life looks different from what I expected (I am not living in a quaint cottage in rural England, writing novels while rehabilitating owls and lemurs (no matter that lemurs don't live in England)), and in others, it looks like what I hoped for.

While I am not currently teaching, I am really happy to write that I AM working on two of my dreams I had as a child.  Dreams that were nagging at me for years in the back of my head.  Things I couldn't really do when I was pregnant, or nursing a newborn while caring for a 2 year old, etc.

Something inside me, when my son was almost 2-- and caring for him was my main focus-- made me start the first dream:  Writing.  Even if only one or two people ever read my blog (and I'm astounded that more people do), at least I was putting words down, just like 7 year-old me, scribbling misspelled words into a diary, had hoped.



(Believe it or not, I'm still gobsmacked every single time someone publishes my work).


My second dream as a child was to have a horse.  I know, I know.  Every little girl wants a pony.  That's all fine and good.  However, I wasn't a girly girl.  I didn't just want one because they are pretty.  Also, I am not a billionaire with access to stables in my own yard.  I have just always, always loved them.

As a kid, I loved taking care of them, and I loved riding them.  One thing I am SO excited about is that I recently found an affordable stable that actually teaches old people like me :).  I'm not that old, but I'm also not 11 anymore.  If you have ever picked up something new as an adult, you know that it can be nerve-wracking and scary.  You don't want to look like a fool.  You don't want to look stupid.  BUT I also didn't want to regret not getting back in the saddle (catch that?).  Never doing it was scarier than anything else.

I had my first group lesson last week, and I was shocked when I heard myself tell the trainer it had been almost TWENTY YEARS since I had taken lessons.  I let this part of myself go for 20 YEARS!  I wasn't great at it, and I'm pretty sure the trainer thought I was a bit of a mess, but it made me feel so good that I had taken the first steps towards something I had always wanted.

Now I am doing something about it-- for my current self, for my childhood self, my future self, and hopefully for my daughter, as I would love to get her involved when she is older so we could ride together.

This dream-- and most others-- does not come without sacrifices, though, I want to add (and will delve into that in a later post).

What does happen to a dream deferred?

What dreams have you reached?  What have you given up on?  Is there any way you could go back to ones that you thought had passed you by?  How?  Volunteering at an animal shelter?  Dusting off your old pastels?  Saving up for a keyboard?  I encourage you to act in a small way on just one of those nagging 'what if' dreams that still haunt you.


*I'm dedicating this post to two supportive friends who are also working hard to make dreams come true:  Natalie of Beautiful Booze and Dakota of Dakota Midnyght.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

P.S.  I couldn't resist adding a little poetry to this post.  See below.

Harlem

BY LANGSTON HUGHES
What happens to a dream deferred?


      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?


      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.


      Or does it explode?


I'm honored to be included in this book:

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