Karin Brown is a stay-at-home mom to three girls and two boys, ages 11-1. She received her bachelors degree in English and enjoys collecting re-tellings of fairy tales. She is an active volunteer at her children's elementary school and enjoys reading, hiking, international travel, music and dancing.
The floor was a sticky land-mine field of mess, the bathroom was all kinds of stinky and the house in general was in need of a hazardous waste clean-up. On top of that, the baby was in a sagging diaper and letting everyone know about it. The 10-year-old girl was having an emotional meltdown. The 8-year-old boy was mercilessly taunting and teasing his younger sisters like a fire in a dry field. After putting kids to bed that night, I found myself wondering, “Will someone remind me why I wanted to do this?” I realized I'd really lost my enthusiasm for motherhood lately and was spending time every day contemplating all the things I wish I were doing and daydreaming about unfulfilled dreams.
I decided to pull myself together and listen to a podcast from The Power of Moms (my lifeline on hard days) while mopping my kitchen floor. The podcast that caught my eye was Will You Dare to Dream with April Perry and Whitney Johnson, Whitney said some things that totally struck a chord with me. She suggested thinking back to your childhood or youth and remembering what you liked to do when you were a little girl and why and what makes you happy. As I listened I was struck with the most startling revelation. I have always wanted to be a mom. That’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. One of my favorite pastimes as a child was “playing mom.” As a youth and young adult, I couldn’t wait until I married and had children of my own. I was struck dumb, speechless. In essence, the shocking truth was, I was already living my dream.
It’s true, at a younger age, I didn’t realize what a challenge it is to be a mom and how draining the daily grind of mom-responsibilities can be. I think the actual reality and challenge of being a mom is a surprise to most women, as is the overwhelming joy and love you feel toward your children. Nothing really prepares you for the dichotomy of emotion you experience as a parent. But realizing that being a mom was a fulfillment of a dream since childhood for me suddenly changed my perspective and I found myself viewing my life in a more positive and optimistic way.
As I continued to reflect on what I had loved to do as a young person, I discovered I had had other dreams as well, beyond being a mother. I loved to dance. I still do. I used to think I could dance in New York City if I tried hard enough. I remember sitting in a movie theater watching the new release, “HairSpray.” I wanted to be one of those characters so badly, dancing and singing across the screen or stage with wild abandon. And for a moment, I thought, “If that production ever comes to my state, I’m absolutely trying out.
Then reality struck as I realized I was a 30-something year old, pregnant with my 3rd child. That’s a far cry from the high school and college age girls who would also be auditioning. Yes, my life has changed and perhaps I can’t fulfill my dreams in the same way I thought I would. I’m now a mother of 5, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still dance.
In fact, in an effort to start living my dreams, I signed myself up for a dance class, twice a week. I also led a “Performing Arts Camp” this summer at my home for a week. This allowed me to share my talents, dreams and joy with my children and their friends. And that was just the beginning. I’ve also always enjoyed playing the piano and writing. I searched out a piano solo I knew would be somewhat of a challenge and made sure I got my practice time in, right along with the kids. I recently performed that piece for my church congregation. I’ve also started carving out slivers of time to write again, both for myself and various websites.
Re-discovering some of my other dreams and making time for them has introduced a more hopeful, optimistic attitude in my daily activities. I’m not going to fly to New York and give it a go, but I will take my dance class at night after the kids are in bed. And by starting a performing arts camp, I'm finding that I'm not only a deliberate mother – I'm a deliberate dreamer.
Note: The Power of Moms is hosting a weekend Retreat at Lake Winnepesaukee in New Hampshire (just 1 1/2 hours from Boston) October 21-22. The focus of Power of Moms Retreats is helping moms fulfill their dream of becoming the mothers and women they really want to be. There will also be a 1/2 day retreat in Chicago on October 25. I went to the retreat in 2010; I did accomplish even more than I had hoped; I came home wanting to become a better mother, all without feeling guilty that I might be a bad mother.
The day I was scheduled to record the Power of Moms podcast discussed below, I'd had a VERY bad morning. If the topic had been “rain on my parade”, I could have done a stellar job, but alas it was “dare to dream”. I considered canceling, but didn't because I'm really trying to keep my commitments. Every once in awhile we get to see the tangible benefits of showing up….