Do you feel like you sacrificed your dreams to be a mom? I’ve heard so many moms say that. They complain, “I have to hire a babysitter just to go see a movie,” or “I really need a vacation. But with four kids, we barely have enough money for groceries.” It’s a complaint that most of us can relate to–and frankly, I’ve been known to say things like this a time or two (or three hundred).
When I was in college, I wanted to be a writer. I’ve dreamed about writing that great American novel someday, about going on a book tour and signing my name with a smile onto thick, freshly pressed pages. In fact, when I prepared to graduate from college without a marriage prospect in sight, I figured graduate school in creative writing or journalism would be my thing. I was determined to make my dream come true.
But then I found out about an internship in Romania, working in orphanages. It piqued my interest like nothing else had before. I applied, was accepted, and soon found myself thousands of miles away from laundry dryers, dishwashers, and real American cheeseburgers. “My kids” ended up being the orphans that Romanians wanted to forget about–the severely disabled and disfigured ones. I threw myself into their care, trying to play, tickle, and laugh with them; anything to get a reaction. Over a period of months, these children became mine. I knew every facial expression, every gurgling giggle, every millimeter of improvement they gave, and it didn’t take long before I realized something. If this was what it felt like to be a mom, there was nothing I wanted more. Writing was fulfilling, but it didn’t feel like this. It was that love, that incredible concern and sacrifice for nine abandoned kids–the thousands of miles and dollars and hours–just to see a palsy-stricken six year-old laugh for the first time. It was worth it, times ten. No question.
When I came home, I brought with me a new dream. That dream came true sooner than expected. Within two years, I had a wonderful husband and a baby girl. She was followed by two adorable and active boys. Several years later, as a busy mom of three, I was feeling overwhelmed and mourning the loss of my freedom as a person–until I remembered my experience in Romania.
I sat down to write about it, and then I couldn’t stop. I showed the first chapter to a publisher, just to see what she thought, and the rest is history. Now I have a book, called How to Have Peace When You’re Falling to Pieces. It was just released two weeks ago.
I didn’t know as a young intern that I could have two dreams. Being a mom and being an author seemed conflicting at first, but now I know that they only enhanced and enriched each other. My writing has more depth and experience than ever, and I’m a better mom now that I’ve found a voice. My daughter even sits next to me sometimes, writing her own” book.” I think she has a wonderful future.
Now, when I’m tempted to complain about babysitting costs, I think about “my” orphans across the ocean, and I have to smile. Motherhood is a sacrifice, it’s true. But in the process of giving things up, I found who I really was.
What’s your dream, and did you have to give it up to become a mom? Please leave a comment to share.