Becoming a mother can bring all kinds of difficult dilemmas: how to give birth, how to feed, whether to work or not. And as a mother, you get used to putting your children at the heart of all your decisions. You do what is best for them, which may or may not be what is best for you.
So when it comes to following your own dreams as a mother it gets a little, well, tricky.
Sometimes dreams just aren’t possible with young children. I will, for example, never be able to become a rock groupie and tour with a world famous band. Sometimes, they just need to be postponed. And sometimes, we just stop trying for them or decide we simply can’t make them happen anymore.
But dreams are important. No one wants to look back on life and regret the things they didn’t do. More importantly though, striving to achieve our dreams can teach our children an important lesson.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved reading and writing. I’ve always dreamt of writing for a living and would love nothing more than to see a book I’ve written on the shelves. But it’s not a dream I had thought about seriously until I discovered blogging last year and instantly fell in love with it.
It helped rekindle the little thought in my head saying: “Why don’t you write a book?”
So I started. I planned and plotted. I wrote the first few chapters. I’ve even got the query letter and proposal drafted. But life gets in the way.
I’ve got three young children, one a baby. My day consists of school runs, running a house and keeping kids alive. My nights consist of feeding, comforting and just generally being woken up by a baby who wants to play.
All of which means it’s really hard to keep working on my dream, and really easy to think that I’ll just leave it for now or give up on it altogether.
The question I ask myself at these times is this — what kind of mother would I be if I gave up on my dreams?
My daughter recently did a performing arts week and came home to announce she wanted to be on the west end. What should I tell her? That she shouldn’t bother because it will be really hard? Or that it’s so competitive she won’t have a chance?
Or do I show her I believe in her. Tell her that she can achieve anything if she works hard for it and has the confidence to go for it. That even though it’s competitive she needs to trust that she can do it.
The problem with saying this to her is if it’s not backed up by my own actions — by what I do with my own life — she won’t believe me and I’ll be crushing her dreams before she’s even tried for them.
If I want her to really believe she can achieve anything if she works hard for it, I need to show her that I will work hard for what I want. If I want her to think she can overcome the competition for leading roles, I need to show her that I’m not deterred by something just because it’s hard and competitive.
I set the example. I can show her that it’s possible to achieve your dreams; that you can be successful and get what you want by being driven, ambitious and, most importantly, not quitting because it gets a little hard.
Balancing your dreams with becoming a mother is challenging. It can feel selfish to focus on what you want to do. Especially if you have to sacrifice time with your children to get it. But sometimes it’s good to show your children it’s OK to have dreams and work to make them a reality. Because ultimately, if you give up on your dreams you teach your children to give up on theirs.