A few years ago, when we were still doing face-to-face things, I spoke at an event with teen girls and their moms. I asked them to share a stretch goal for themselves, something they wanted to accomplish in the next five years. All of the young women could think of at least one thing they wanted to pursue, but some of the adult women struggled to think of a personal goal or dream. They could think of family goals and aspirational goals for their children, but they could not think of, or remember, something they aspired to individually.
Recently, I saw this comment/question on social media: “I don’t know how to want anything for myself. How to be passionate about something I sacrifice home, family, sleep. Whatever. Like, what are my interests even? How do I find those again?”
Oh mamas. I so want you to find you. To remember YOU.
I get it. Believe me, I do. Running a household, especially with kids at home, is intense and it costs. It costs in time, money, energy and emotional labor. It can feel like spinning a hundred plates at once, hoping that when a plate does drop, it’s a rubber one and not a glass one.
I did a quick Google search for “mom goal setting” and what I found was not a focus on individual dreams, but lists of suggested goals that detailed ways to run a household, manage the kids and their schedules, get dinner on the table “on time” and tossed in, almost haphazardly, a mention or two of “self-care.” It’s easy to get bogged down in the minutiae.
While it’s great to want to get your kids to soccer practice on time and use your crockpot more, there’s a bigger world out there just waiting for you to dream, then dare to go and do that thing which simultaneously scares you and makes your heart sing.
Dreaming can be scary, I get it. It’s way too easy to talk ourselves out of wanting what we want — or even thinking we have the privilege to dream. It takes time to dream. It takes emotional energy to dream. But fellow traveler on the mom path – we need to do it. Our family needs us to do it. Our kids need us to do it and the world needs us to do it.
Whitney Johnson, author of “Dare, Dream, Do” wrote:
“To my surprise, when I asked women what they dreamed of doing, many responded, ‘I don’t have a dream’ or ‘I don’t know that my dreams are within reach.’ Many felt that it wasn’t their privilege to dream. This concerned me. These were highly educated, eminently capable women who are the bedrock of our society.”Whitney Johnson
“Through dreaming,” Johnson continues, “we can find our voice and know who we are. When we have a clear sense of identity, we can make things happen and act on the world; we can then speak the words that make our dreams become a reality.”
I always wanted to be a mom — you could say that was a huge dream of mine. I’ve been blessed to live that dream for almost 34 years. But, it’s not the only dream I have now, nor was it the only one I had even with a house full of little kids. (Although some months my “goal” was to shave both legs in the shower – ha!)
Too often we overestimate what we can get done in a week but underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. When John Grisham wrote his first novel, he could barely carve out time to write one page per day. It took him two years to finish that novel, but by chipping away at it day by day by day, he brought that book to market.
I am not advocating that you quit your job and leave your family while you go to meditate in Nepal. I am advocating that you give yourself permission to dream and then start taking steps towards that dream. Who cares if it takes five years to reach that dream? Ten years? That time will go by whether you pursue your dream or not.
Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” But first, we have to dream them.