I always dreamed of being a mother. As far back as I can remember, I had a toy box filled with baby dolls, and I delighted in caring for them. But being a mother isn’t the only thing I dreamed of. I wanted to be a writer and a musician, and I longed to travel overseas and teach. And since my mothering adventure officially began for me in my late 30s, I had already done my share of these things. I played music in coffee shops and attended songwriters nights. I taught English in China for a summer. I lived in New Zealand for a year. I traveled to Ethiopia with a team and taught English. I started a blog, and I shared stories of my life in bite sized pieces. But traveling and writing and playing music are life-giving things for me. So what happens when babies are born, and a mom has to put certain dreams on hold so she can focus on babies?
I know I can’t be the only one. I love my children more than my own life. I love waking up to sweet little sleepy eyes and crazy hair and fuzzy pajamas. I am so blessed to have my kids. But sometimes, I still think of these dreams, these things I have put on hold to be a mom, and I miss them. I miss playing my guitar loudly in my living room at 1:00 a.m. because I am my best creative self late at night. I miss airplanes and jet lag and culture shock. I miss sitting at my favorite coffee shop for four hours and writing and never giving a second thought to who might be crying or waking up from a nap. I miss that freedom.
I can have these things in pieces. I know that. And I do. I can arrange a babysitter and work these things into our family schedule, but it’s just not easy anymore. I have mom friends that have put things on hold, too. They have put off master’s degrees and writing novels and mountain climbing. We have all given up something. So, what’s a mama to do when these dreams have shifted or paused or are canceled altogether?
Acknowledge that this is temporary. My children will not always need me at the level they need me now. My kids are young right now, and I am the maker of breakfast, the shoe-tie-er, the milk pourer, the jacket zipper-er. Motherhood is all-consuming in this season. A missions trip to Africa may not feel possible right now, but in a few years, it will make more sense. That yoga retreat you’d love to attend, classes you want to take, girls cruise you’d like to go on? Those things will be an easy option sooner than you think. The time passes so quickly.
Grieve the losses. I have to acknowledge that in fulfilling this dream of being a mom, I have lost some other things. There are pieces of myself that are left unattended during this season of life. I give myself permission to feel sad about them.
Find a balance. I haven’t abandoned everything I love to do. Neither should you. I make time to play music. Occasionally, I actually get to play a show, and revive that part of my life. It’s good, even if it costs me $60 in babysitting. It’s a small price to pay to have that piece of myself back, even if just for an evening. I sometimes write late at night, knowing that I will be exhausted the next day, and I just decide that the trade-off is worth it. And in a few days, I am beginning a new job teaching English online to children in China in the early morning hours. I get to teach, and if my children wake up, their dad is there to take care of things. It’s a beautiful compromise.
A few years ago, friends surprised me by raising money for me to record my first album. I found out I was pregnant with my son, my first child, one month later. That money is still sitting in a bank account, waiting for that album to be recorded. And pretty soon, it will be. Motherhood happened, and so that dream has been on hold for a little while. But motherhood is not the place where dreams go to die. They might shift and evolve, but they linger. They wait for the day when we have the time and the capacity to pick them back up again. And soon, I will have my very own album in my hands, the product of my dreams and a little patience. I believe that they are worth the wait.