“When you were a little girl did you always dream of being a babysitter, um I mean daycare person?” My 7-year-old daughter asks on our drive to get frozen yogurt.
A momentary lump in my throat forms as I search for the right words. Dreams are complicated.
“I like taking care of children and babies, but when I was little I dreamed of being a writer or an actress,” I said. “That is why I write on the computer all the time. I get paid to take care of and teach little kids, but I write because I love it.”
Without missing a beat she says, “If you love writing, why don’t you get money from writing?”
My stomach feels like it is about to fall out of my body as she unknowingly zings me with one innocent question. An observation that on the surface seems so rational and obvious, yet is marred in a complex web of answers. I search for the words when she continues, “I never want to have two jobs. I want to be a vet. I’m going to have a big dog like Beethoven.”
I smile and say, “That sounds like a wonderful dream. I write because it makes me happy and I don’t need money to want to write.” I decide not to say anything else. I tuck the conversation away for another day. Instead, I make a secret wish that all her dreams and plans, however they may change, will one day come true. I want my children to discover what makes their heart sing. I want them to understand that following your dreams and pursing your passion is not always intrinsically tied to how much money you can make. That there is so much more to dreaming than even I understand.
We arrive at our local frozen yogurt shop and I watch her load her chocolate/strawberry swirled concoction with way too much candy, but I don’t say a word. She giggles and smiles.
I think about her question a little more and realize I would answer it completely differently if asked at this moment. She and her sister and brothers are the real dream. I write because it makes me happy, but being their mother is what I have always dreamed about. It’s why I do everything. It is why I choose to run a daycare. It’s why I work so hard. It’s also in a way why I am able to write.
Dreams are complicated, indeed.
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