When I was seven, I dreamed of growing up to be a teacher. I was convinced, as much as a child can be, that this was my calling. I’d imagine standing at the front of a colorful classroom sharing about math and the weather cycle.
When I was 17, I decided to be an architect. I attended college and learned about flying buttresses, load-bearing walls, and Neoclassical architecture. I mastered the art of writing on velum with ink pens and how to handle a design critique.
When I was 27, I wanted to write and speak. But then life was different, and dreams seemed impractical. So instead of agreeing with the dream, I put it on hold and told myself, “You’ll get to that when the kids are older.”
When I was 37, I still wanted to write and speak, but now I was racing around with teens and preteens and grade-schoolers. And time? Time seemed to be running faster than ever before, and it frightened me. Not just because my kids were growing up, but my time was also moving by.
Truthfully, despite being—in my opinion—a fairly good mom, I was deep down just a bit lost.
What We're Reading This WeekGet recommendations for the greatest books around straight to your inbox every week.
Back then, I wouldn’t have admitted my loss of direction. In fact, you might not have even noticed, as I was a master of the “life is great” mask we tend to wear as adults. But when our heart is gasping for air, the masks we wear become oppressive. One day, I decided to stop excusing myself, and instead of saying, “Tomorrow I’ll follow my dreams,” I decided to run toward them.
I started writing.
Writing was a passion of mine, a space where the rumbles in my brain could find themselves on a screen. I was open, vulnerable, and real—free of expectations. The more I wrote, the more my heart opened up and found joy again. But that little passion, that desire, moved from being just about me to being about us mothers as a collective.
In this fantastic online world, I discovered that moms often feel lost, alone, and afraid to admit they need an outlet beyond the confines of work and motherhood. We all knew we needed to take care of our dreams but either didn’t know how to voice them or didn’t know where to start.
We needed one thing: permission.
Permission to breathe. Permission to delve into projects outside the scope of mom obligations. Permission to say yes to our own dreams again. Permission to silence guilt. Permission to give time to ourselves. Permission to give ourselves permission.
Dare to dream, just for a moment, and imagine this: What happens if you and I change the culture? What if we celebrate the side hustles, the passion projects, the times where we embrace our own gifts and heart? What if we encourage each other as moms to find a space outside of motherhood where we want to invest?
We show up for our children. Band concerts, track meets, doctor appointments, teacher conferences, bedtimes, homework—we’re there. What if we reinvent our stories to add a chapter on fulfilling our passions? Passion projects are like restoration for the soul. They stretch thinking, provide fulfillment, and open opportunities.
What happens if you dust off the piano keys and start playing? What happens if you find the running shoes and lace them up and hit the pavement? What happens if you apply for that small business loan? What happens if you start writing? What happens if the dreams you pushed off to tomorrow become a priority today?
And more than that—and this is the best part—what happens to our children’s lives when they show up and cheer for our photography exhibit? What happens to their hearts when they sit in the back of the auditorium and see everyone clapping for us? What happens to their futures when they witness our drive, tenacity, and bravery? What happens when they see lives changed? What happens when they learn that being a great parent doesn’t mean losing self, but can mean doing both?
You know what happens? Happiness. Purpose. Perspective.
When I was 43, I no longer dreamed of being a writer and a speaker. You know why? Because instead of waiting, I decided to become that. In the midst of motherhood and work and crazy to-do lists. When you remember your heart, when you follow those passions, you teach your kids the critical importance of remembering theirs.
Featured Image: Shutterstock / Syda Productions; Author Photo: Amanda Lynch