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When Your Dreams Come True

I always wanted to be a mom.  From the time I was a little girl running around with my baby dolls and stuffed animals all the way through my college years and beyond, motherhood was something I wanted most of all.  No other career seemed as important.  No other mission for my life as meaningful.  Being a mom was the pie in the sky.  But what happens when your dreams come true – and they do not quite match the Leave it To Beaver image you so intently dreamed of for so many years?

I had an entrepreneurial spirit at a very young age. When I was 4 years old, I dreamed of owning an ice cream parlor.  I still remember how vividly I could see it in my mind, down to the color and pattern of the tile floor and the fishbowl of lollipops on the tall soda fountain type counter.  Just as sure as I was of that, I was equally convinced I would be a children’s book author.  I was the one that kept friends and family up at night with my storytelling.  During the day I would seat my dolls in a semi-circle, take one of my mom’s books off the shelf, and “read” to my children.  To this day, my mom can pull out a book and see if it was one I used simply by how worn down the pages in the first chapter(s) are. 

All through growing up, I casually flitted with thoughts of being a teacher.  It was an area my dad subtly but consistently tried to put on my radar, which is probably why I eventually steered clear of it.  At one point I thought of following in my mother’s footsteps and going into food science/nutrition (a topic I was always reading up on – just for fun – obviously the fruit did not fall far from the tree).   A deep interest in an economics class persuaded me to claim that as my major in college (until, 2 years later, a brutal statistics course dampened my enthusiasm).  And who could forget my love of criminal justice – my passionate belief in right and wrong, and the consequences thereof.  Tie that in with my passing fantasy of being an actress and you create a career dream of mine for years:  becoming an undercover criminal investigator.  There was also the PR and event planning I enjoyed doing prior to having kids. 

But all of these career paths ultimately felt like hobbies to me; my real passion was in my desire to be a stay-home mom.  It became a prayer almost of mine, especially when my college sweetheart went on and on about how HIS wife was going to work after having kids, and how important the double income thing was.  It was supposedly a non-negotiable for him and as such became a deal-breaker for me.  That certainly wasn’t what I was looking to sign up for; if it had to happen – fine, but it was not something I was automatically eager to do. 

Cut to all these years later….here I am, a stay-at-home mom to two wonderful kids.  I have my dream – this is it – this is what I wanted all my life!  So why is it that I don’t feel completely satisfied?  Why do I feel at times (many times) that I am blowing it – that I’m not living up to my full potential – that I am not being that great mom I know I can be? 

Why does their bickering go straight to this one part of my brain that causes me to not be able to think straight?  Why do their unkind words (sibling talk) slice away at my heart and make me want to shout, “No!  I won’t let you become that child – the one that speaks meanly to others, that doesn’t think or care how his or her words make the other person feel.”  I want to nip this in the bud so I don’t wake up one day and wonder where the spoiled brat in front of me came from. 

I may be over-reacting; at the same time, I don’t ever want that behavior to be thought of as “okay.”  Sometimes you let things slide, and then later wake-up realize you have a major problem on your hands.  I don’t want that to happen.  But who wants to be a nag all the time either?!  How can I creatively get my point across – you know, turn this snippy interaction into a positive teaching moment?  I don’t know – but I am exhausted from the whole thing.  Truthfully, this parenting thing is not quite the way this Zen Mama Wannabe imagined it.

Perhaps it comes down to redefining our dreams.  Just as with a traditional job, you will have good days and bad days.  Some days your co-workers will drive you crazy; other days things will flow in such a way that time will seem to fly by.  Some times your boss will push your buttons in such a way you are ready to hand in your 2-week resignation letter and say good luck to you (meaning: just try to find someone else who is half as qualified that will put up with your crap).  Other times you will thank God for this amazing opportunity you have been given to learn and grow – and you can’t help but think, “How in the world did I get so lucky?” 

That is how it is with parenting, and to think it would be any different is naive I suppose.  It is just so hard at times – we get told all the things we are doing wrong (by our kids, our husbands, sometimes by comments from other moms) but we don’t hear much about what we are doing that is RIGHT. We are the behind-the-scene player – which is a challenging role for many of us to take.

Is this no different than what OUR mothers went through before us?  Is this just a part of the job of motherhood – and only my generation would dare to whine about it?  The job I wanted so desperately?  The job I now have but don’t show the awe for that I once felt?

Really if you think about it, I have actually achieved ALL my dreams.  I am now a full-time teacher, storyteller, family nutritionist, event planner, investigator (just not on a criminal level), and even part-time ice cream scooper.  I didn’t know it growing up, but all those things fit under the job heading: MOM.  My dreams did come true. 

I still feel an uneasiness I can’t quite put my finger on.  But maybe that will reveal itself in time.  Maybe what I need to focus on now is being present with my children, continually striving to do and be my best, and have faith the rest will come.  If I truly show up and give my best, maybe I will start to feel good better about the job I am doing.  For I know it is not the “job” that has me down, it is MY performance of that job. And to not feel successful at your lifelong dream can be a bitter pill to take. One this Zen Mama Wannabe has no intention of swallowing much longer.

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4 Responses to “When Your Dreams Come True”

  1. LarkLady Says:
    September 15th, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Why doesn’t your life feel like Leave It to Beaver, when your dreams from your youth have all come to pass? Well, for one, because Leave It to Beaver was TV, not reality; it was scripted so that everything would work out perfectly in 30 minutes. Scriptwriters worked hard to make it all seem so natural — but what they did was work. Likewise, Barbara Billingsley — the actress who played June Cleaver, for those of you too young to remember (oops! I’m dating myself!) — was not a stay-at-home mom: she just played the role of one.

    So don’t beat yourself up too badly for not having your life match the fantasy: you (and the rest of your family!) aren’t following a finely crafted script to bring every episode to a neatly packaged conclusion. You have to live your life in real time, without a script, and that’s no mean feat! You do your best, and that’s all anyone — those you live with and those in the outside world — can ask of you.

    And that’s all you should be asking of yourself. Strive for greatness — try your best — and then let it be.

  2. MVmom Says:
    September 16th, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    It is funny to think that no matter how good we are at our job as stay at home moms, we still feel inadequate somehow. Are we letting society’s lack of respect for this career (and it IS a career – nutritionist, activity planner, teacher, etc…) influence how we feel about us?

  3. callieandbatido Says:
    September 18th, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    I think MVmom is on to something. Why do we feel inadequate as mom’s no matter how hard we try? Perhaps it is the expectations we put on ourselves or as Ladylarkin pointed out, we actaully believed it could be like Leave It To Beaver. Here’s to us mom’s and all the great things we DO right(or at least with love) each and every day!

  4. LarkLady Says:
    September 19th, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Just remember Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous admonition: No one can make you feel inadequate without your permission.

    We all have to stop buying into the belief that “being a Mom” is somehow of lesser value than being a rocket scientist. If you’re having a bad day and need a boost, read http://www.geocities.com/~pamsway/md3.html — you’ve probably seen it before, but we all need a reminder sometimes of everything that’s involved in being “just a mom!”

    Hold your heads up high, all you who are raising the next generation! Where would society be without you?

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