What do you dream about?
That's something I've been asking myself these last few days, something that I have kneaded and rolled and shaped in my head as I ran in the mornings. Not night time dreaming, but deep down dreams for yourself.
The kind of dreams that seem silly and childish when you say them aloud.
When I was growing up in Kansas, I dreamed of one day being the winning jockey of the Kentucky Derby. I was seven or eight at the time and it was a perfectly logical dream for a horse crazed girl. When I began growing taller, I switched my dream to being the trainer of the Kentucky Derby winner. I was dead set on being around horses in some fashion.
But then I began high school and my dreams of winning horse races and wearing a blanket of roses around my neck gave way to music and flutes and wanting to become either a concert flautist or flute teacher. I took music theory my senior year and composed and conducted a quintet for strings as my final exam and did rather well, but I knew deep in my bones that I didn't have the discipline or fortitude to major in music, so I decided to major in English when I began my college career the next year, setting my sights on yet another new dream, that of moving to New York City and working on Glamour magazine and living in a cool, hip uptown studio apartment.
I graduated college, but moved to Washington, DC instead, got married and slowly lost the desire to dream for myself. I was busy raising two small children while David worked 18-hour days or traveled on business. It was a lot to handle.
I was too busy to dream for myself, but when I did dream, the dreams would began to include the kids and David. We were a unit of four and did everything together when David was home. I had slowly begun to lose myself to my little family and I hadn't even noticed. I don't think that's wrong, losing yourself to your family, but just a natural and unconscious progression that comes from being married and raising a family together. Your single, independent identity that you had before finding your mate and other half grows into an all-inclusive identity. It's a brand new persona that grows from doing the grocery shopping together, paying the bills, taking turns getting up at night with teething babies, having messy dinners and long talks while taking long road trips. You have grown from one individual into a family.
That's an amazing and beautiful thing, and is something that never fails to boggle my mind. It boggles my mind because I never dreamed that for myself growing up. I was never the girl to dream about my wedding or raising kids or being a mother. I had my nose buried in horse books or music books or British Literature, not picturing my husband-to-be or a house with a white picket fence. But that was what happened to me and I still can't believe it really happened.
Meghan is out of the house now and holding down a full time job and an apartment and is beginning her own new life. Joe is staring down three weeks left of school till his high school graduation and the long task of figuring out what he wants to do next with his burgeoning life. I see my role of Active Parenting coming to a close after a long run of 24 years. I view my next parenting role as a softer one, one that takes place more off center stage, trusting that my kids make the right decisions, stepping in to support them and to give advise only when they ask me to. I'm holding my breath slightly, waiting for their lives to begin so I can exhale and try to find myself again.
I think the dream I keep coming back to on my morning runs is finding a "tribe", a group of women that get me, that understands the place that I'm in right now, that understands my quirks and my goofiness and my weirdness and my intensity (because I've been known to be rather intense at times). It's hard to make friends now that I'm a grown up, hard to call up other women for coffee dates or to hang out together because so many other women have their own families, jobs, lives to juggle and I don't want to intrude on their down time. Everyone seems to be so busy these days, and it is a busy world we live in now. I have my bucket list of dreams - - - riding in a hot air balloon, riding through Mongolia on the back of David's motorcycle, running the Pikes Peak Half Marathon, visiting Graceland and Elvis Presley, attending the Kentucky Derby, photographing polar bears in Churchill, Canada and grizzly bears in Alaska, getting back to the U.K and Europe and re-visiting the castles, museums and churches I saw as a child - - - but those are superficial, on-the-top-layer kind of dreams. But to have a group of like minded women that would accept me for me and not to expect anything less than that, that would be nice.
Belonging is my new dream, the dream that replaces the Kentucky Derby winner, that replaces the concert flautist, that replaces the glamorous magazine editor in NYC.
Just to belong. Simple as that.