Motherhood once seemed like a nearly impossible dream to me.
Fifteen years ago, when I was painfully single after a hard breakup, I went to visit my sister Shawni who was pregnant with her first child. As I helped her shop for just the right car seat and stroller, I was overcome with sad thoughts: “This might never happen for me. I’m getting older. What if I never find a husband? What if I do but I can’t have kids? Here’s my little sister, so close to becoming a mother. What if I never get that chance?”
I remember standing there in the aisle of Babies R Us bawling and trying to explain to my sister why I was so emotional. Would I ever be a mother? Would I ever be picking out a stroller for my own child? Would I ever get to hold my own little baby in my arms? Would I get to see little children of my own grow and develop into wonderful people? Would I have children to shop for strollers with when they got ready to have their own children some day?
About six months after that, I got to know Jared. And by the time Shawni’s first baby was 15 months old, Jared and I were married. We were pregnant by our first anniversary. And as hard as that first baby was, it felt right to keep the kids coming – Isaac 19 months after Ashton, Eliza 19 months after Isaac, then the big finale of twins, Oliver and Silas, 23 months after Eliza.
We had crazy years of colicky babies and rambunctious toddlers and thousands of diapers and so many big messes and plenty of crying and spit-up and sleep deprivation, and sometimes it was hard in the midst of the mayhem to remember that I got exactly what my heart had yearned for — in abundance! But as each little child learned to say “Mama” and put their chubby little arms around my neck to give me big slobbery kisses, and as I snuggled and read with my sweet kids, my heart swelled and I remembered how very, very blessed I was to be a mother. So many women never get to be mothers. It just doesn’t work out sometimes. And some women don’t dream of motherhood. But my dream came true. I am a mother.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of spending an evening with 80 other deliberate mothers at a Power of Moms event called “Live Deliberately: Dare, Dream and Do.”
The night before the event, as I was tucking kids in bed and reminding them about how things were going to work the next day while I was at the event, my 11-year-old Isaac asked me what this particular event was going to be about. I sat down with him and 8-year-old Silas (they share a room) and told them that we’d be talking about our dreams and how to make our dreams come true.
Silas asked, “What are you going to say your dreams are?”
I have tons of dreams, and I feel like my kids see me doing work towards them all the time. They see me doing all the “mom” stuff like helping with homework and volunteering in their classrooms and cooking dinner, which is related to my big dream of having a family, and they see me working on my computer and heading off to events for Power of Moms to support my dream of helping other moms be the moms they really want to be. But I realized that perhaps I don’t really explain all this action as working towards dreams.
In a moment of inspiration, I took Silas’s face in my hands and said, “YOU are my dream. I always dreamed of having wonderful, beautiful, fun kids, and you turned out even better than I dreamed.” I went on to tell Silas and Isaac how I have tons of dreams, and many of them have come true but that THEY, along with their siblings and their dad, are the most important and most precious dreams of my life.
My heart was so full of love and joy when I shared this truth with my sweet boys that when I left their room, I decided to share the same truth with each of the other kids as I tucked them in bed. I was met with beautiful smiles and hugs and experienced some of my best-ever moments in motherhood that night.
So I went into the event the next day with this beautiful realization: I’m living my dream. And it’s harder and crazier and more complicated and deeper than I dreamed it would be. In fact, there are moments here and there when it feels like a nightmare! Some of my dreams have been put on a shelf for a while at certain points in my life. Some dreams have been dropped in favor of new dreams.
But truly, my most heartfelt dreams — those of being a wife and a mother — have come true. I dreamed this. I chose this. I hoped for this. I worked for this. And now, here I am, reaping the consequences, both hard and good, of the dreams I set in motion.
And I’m going to start reminding myself of this every day.
QUESTION: What dreams are you living right now? Are you acting like a person who is living her dreams? Do your children know that they are the fulfillment of some of your dreams?
CHALLENGE: Put up a sign on your mirror or your refrigerator that says, “I’m living my dream.” Think daily about the blessings you have and the dreams that have come true in your life.