Growing up, I had many dreams of what I wanted to be or how I wanted to look etc. We are taught as children to dream “big,” that we can be anything we want if we work at it. If you had asked me at 7, I would’ve said I wanted to be a veterinarian because I was thoroughly in love with and fascinated by animals. Unfortunately, my allergies kept me from dedicating myself to that dream. Over the years, my dreams changed from Oceanographer (turns out I’m scared of whales), to interior designer, to many other things over the years. I did not understand, at the time, that I am a person of whim and am basically interested, to some degree, in everything.
This made following through on my dreams difficult since colleges don’t let you major in “everything.” And most jobs don’t have enough variety to keep a person like me interested for very long. You can imagine that this has presented its challenges in my adulthood. At 34, I have had numerous jobs including house cleaning, CNA, plastics factory worker and tux shop employee. Currently, I work from home as a virtual assistant and have been doing that for 2 years, though my level of commitment wavers at times. The only other job I have held for a significant amount of time is working at McDonald’s. Though I left and returned a time or two, I think I totaled about a year and a half at that venture. Funny thing is, I really enjoyed it. The fast pace kept me going and I had no time to think too hard about anything. (For anyone who knows me, they know thinking is my worst enemy… but that’s another entry altogether.)
The one dream I remember always having is that I’ve wanted to have a family of my own. For this day and age, and with women’s lib and all, that probably seems a little too simplistic. After all, women can be anything and everything they want to be these days, and they can be all of it at the same time. But, for me, I am a little old-fashioned about family: I actually enjoy managing calendars, cooking meals, washing clothes, and doing all of those “June Cleaver” duties.
I have spent many years in and out of the work force, and have always found myself feeling guilty and plain out miserable when I couldn’t be home to cook a meal or play with my pets. I am simply happier when I am able to care for my home and those who live in it. But finding this happiness has come at a steep cost. Those “dreams” of my childhood have been put to rest and I have spent many years of my life in depression because I simply couldn’t find a dream that I wanted badly enough to sacrifice my family life.
I cannot describe the conflict I have faced with this dichotomy of working woman vs. traditional woman-hood. For starters, I am an intelligent person: I made straight-A’s and could get a degree in anything I wanted. Society tends to burden intelligent people with the responsibility of getting a thorough education, and my parents were none too lenient on me about attending college (though I have yet to finish). Society also tends to burden women with the task of being everything all at once: mother, wife, bread-winner, slut, and super hero.
As women, we are given numerous roles to play and the challenge of playing them all at once. Many women may not feel this as a burden; they may be perfectly capable of filling all of those roles with panache. I applaud those women. Myself, I am simply unable to focus myself in that many directions at once. The times I have tried, I felt as if something were pulling at all of my limbs all at once, threatening to split me down the middle. I simply am not built to be a full-time career woman as well as a home-maker. And, as I have gotten older, I have spent many tears and moments of desperation trying to make the decision on which road to take.
As a result, I have decided to land exactly where I am by no mistake.
Yes, I am divorced. No, I don’t have any children… yet. But I have a dream of having a family, and that has informed my life choices thus far. You may think that getting a divorce was counterintuitive to having a family, but I knew I couldn’t have the family of my dreams in that relationship. And, while that relationship had numerous problems, when he looked at me and said he was pretty sure he didn’t want kids, I was done. It took a lot for me to walk away from that marriage, from the comfort and the dependability. But I had this one last dream, and I knew I wasn’t living the rest of my life without it.
I haven’t changed much since I was 7: I still want to grow up to be something different every day. However, in this seemingly goal-less life I’ve led, I have discovered that I do have the ability to follow through with something if I want it bad enough. As I continue my journey towards a family, I hope you find that one dream that is “worth it” for you and that you have the courage to give it all you’ve got.