I'm a pessimist by nature. I think a lot of people are. I prefer to call it being practical, but let's face it, the end result is the same. I am a dream squasher.
Most of the dreams I squash are my own. I've been doing it to myself my whole life without even realizing it. It was all in the name of practicality. No, I won't major in music even though I'm really good at it and I enjoy doing it. There's no career there unless you're freakishly good. And of course I can't pursue writing either because, well, what are the odds of ever getting anything published?
So I majored in Speech Pathology. And I loved it, I really did. I loved it because it was interesting. And also because it was practical. And safe. I knew that if I got a degree in Speech Pathology, I'd be able to get a good, well-paying job pretty much anywhere I'd want. And when I was in college, getting a well-paying job was all I considered. Because my inner pessimist had been busy squashing my dreams, all in the name of practicality.
Luckily, the one dream I didn't squash for myself was that of becoming a mother. I now have five kids, and watching my children dream has taught me one very important lesson: Dreams are good. Dreams are essential, even.
And dreams are worth fighting for.
Watching my kids dream big is hard for me. My first impulse is to always be the voice of reason, the person saying
No, I really don't think you can build a ten-story clubhouse-slash-ninja training center with an underground tunnel to our neighbors house in our backyard.
No, I really don't think you're going to make a gajillion dollars selling magic potions you brewed in our kitchen.
And, okay, maybe those things needed to be said.
But now that my kids are getting older, they have different dreams. Dreams that they actually have a shot at reaching, even if the odds are stacked against them. My natural impulse when they share these dreams is to be the voice of reason. The person saying That's a beautiful dream, but don't be disappointed if it doesn't come true. My only aim in saying something like that is to soften the blow if whatever they're dreaming of doesn't happen.
But to them, it must sound as if I don't believe in them. When you look at it in that light, trying to soften the blow for my kids by telling them they might not succeed is unforgivable. How dare I come along, with my dream squashing tendencies, and tell them to not even try?
I can't do that. It's my job, as a mother, to give life to my kids' dreams. To be the one telling them they can do it.
And maybe, since I'm learning how to do that for them, I can learn how to do it for myself as well. So here's to dreams. And to going after them no matter how far out of reach they might seem. Thank you to my kids for teaching me that it's never too late to dream.