Yesterday I caught myself saying one of those “my parents used to say that to me” to my son for about the 5th time this week.
Don’t limit yourself! Take the chance to dream, sweetie, because if you use your mind you can do so many things! Don’t say you can’t do this or that, because I believe you can!
For me, one of the greatest struggles of being an adult is realizing that it is so very hard to achieve those dreams. For example, I love travel. A whole lot. But I haven’t done it for over 15 years. It was common for my family to be airborne every 3 – 4 months. We circled the globe at least once every 2 years.
But since we’ve come back to Canada to live, the opportunities for me to travel were ones I couldn’t take. Early on after we came back, I couldn’t go because I had to work for money for college. Then I got married and we had children. My husband now works so excessively I haven’t had a vacation away in over 4 years. Two years ago, we went on a vacation with his family to an area right next to Bruce Nuclear Power Plant. It was nice, but not quite what I had in mind.
I’ve had to just accept and find peace with the idea that I just can’t do travel. It was a real struggle because somehow I’ve had to let go of something I felt was fundamentally me and be more than just okay with that.
Being an adult, for me, means accepting that I have to put away some of those dreams that I had as a child.
I’d say I came to that realization about 5 years ago, shortly after my daughter’s 1st birthday. I found myself looking around and just sad because life was simply not what I had imagined or prayed for all of my childhood. Ever since I was 10 I prayed for my future husband. I wrote him letters. I would spend hours imagining what I thought he might be doing.
And there I was with a husband who was the farthest from what I thought. The thing was, this wasn’t some rush dating and marriage. And I prayed and prayed about marrying him and really felt called and lead that this was the person God intended me to marry.
There was a certain amount of anger, because why would I have to deal with this situation? According to my dreams, my struggles were to come from my husband’s job as a Pastor or Missionary. We’d be dealing with these struggles together and prayerfully and lovingly bear each other’s load. Parenting was going to be that of a partnership. We’d struggle but the conversations would take us through.
In fact when we married there was a lot of talking going on between us. We did communicate. We took those “compatibility tests” and scored really high.
So there I was, physically very weak from the blood loss at my daughter’s birth. My husband had retreated from me. I would try to talk to him but he’d leave. Physically get up and leave. Not far away but usually to the barn, or go and lay down to sleep because he worked evenings. We lived over an hour away from our families. We were new in the area. We had one car and since he had it most nights, I was unable to go places.
There was depression. Never diagnosed. I’d also wager there was depression experienced by both of us. Unfortunately neither of us got help.
Finally fear was a good motivator for me. And during my struggle, I came to the conclusion that being an adult meant letting go of those dreams. Letting the hopes off a partnership with my husband go. Because if I continued to hope that we’d have those things I’d get too hurt by his constant apathy. If I had insight I would likely have seen that his behaviour wasn’t personal but I have to tell you that at the time it was all I felt or could see. After all, how would you interpret someone walking away from you any time you talked to them. Even if all you were to say was hello!
So there I was yesterday realizing that I was once again telling my child that he should dream. That’s when I realized that I’ve moved past the point of believing that being an adult means putting away your childhood dreams and just being happy with your reality.
There is a measure of that, but I think I’ve found out that happiness as an adult comes from daring to dream while living in your reality. That is the difference and that is where you find joy in life. You can find daily happiness and joy by being content whatever the circumstances. And you can find a richness in life by dreaming and placing goals for yourself and then working toward that goal. And eventually, when you reach that dream and achieve your goal you do find a great joy and peace. A certain deeper richness to life that is hard to explain. Life won’t feel so shallow and empty. You’ll be able to do the daily chores, the laundry, the dishes, the floor washing because you know there is so much more!
It goes without saying, you can’t get there by yourself. And perhaps, one day, my husband and I can get to that richer partnership about which I used to dream. I certainly find myself praying that way once again. I’ll know it will be some day soon after we can start praying together.