When Your Reality Seems to Rival Your Dream

 

~ Guest Post by Katie Carper ~

I recently had this conversation with my 10 year-old daughter, Selah:

S: Mom, you remind me of the pig from SING.

Me: In what way? (besides an elevated BMI)

S: Well, you take care of all of us like Rosita takes care of her piggies. She has a dream to sing and you have a dream to write. I want you to know it’s okay if we’re not your only dream.

Her sensitivity stunned me into silence.

Selah’s right. I can relate to Rosita. She’s married and works as a full-time parent managing her home and the daily needs of her piggies. She feels the tension of raising littles while trying to make her singing dream a reality.

My husband & I work hard to balance our roles as Dad and Mom while he works full-time at camp and I work full-time at home. I handle most of the household responsibilities and childcare, while he works outside the home, providing our main source of income. We do not take for granted this gift of choice in how we manage our home and raise our kids and we are grateful that we get to spend our days doing what we (mostly) enjoy.

BUT.

I also believe I was created to string words together into something meaningful. Parenting full-time doesn’t mean I forsake my other dream forever. It just means I have to be a little more creative in making it a reality now.

Rosita uses her ingenuity to build a machine that serves breakfast, clears the table, and hands lunch bags to her 25 little pork rinds as they leave for school. She works hard at being resourceful in order to fulfill this dream of hers. Her desire to sing doesn’t make her (or me or you) selfish, discontented, or foolish. Dreaming, in addition to raising children (or whatever your primary role is), simply means that we’re people with gifts and desires and goals that are all a part of who God created us to be.

These days, I dream often of writing more frequent, more refined blog posts, essays, and submissions. I imagine perfect words, carefully crafted around hard issues like justice, race, and faith and how all of those things intersect, shape, and are shaped by our culture.

For me, writing well and often enough (to earn money) requires mental space, time to research, and quiet. These feel like luxuries in my stage of life, especially with two babies, one who needs some extra support and is quite literally into EVERY.DING.DANG.THING. I don’t begrudge my four littles—not at all. Each soul is a gift, a tangible reminder of the joy & mess of my life right now. Sometimes I feel torn between investing in one dream while trying to invest in another. Both bring life to me. Both have value. Both require my gifts and time.

I dream often of writing a book, specifically to co-author one with a dear friend. This feels like an impossible, lofty “who-do-you-think-you-are” kind of dream—for both her and me. After the pity party wave passes, I get back to work but these days my writing isn’t quite as sharpened as I want it to be.

Here’s what I’m learning: It’s okay.

It’s okay that my dreams don’t look exactly like I had hoped they would as I inch closer to forty.

It’s okay that this season is full of babies and bottles, tempers and teething.

It’s okay to feel the tension between two dreams.

The author of Ecclesiastes offers these hopeful words, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

One day, The Baby Era will end. The noise and chaos of active tots will eventually morph into a different shape of busy and my other vision, the one that isn’t clouded by constant supervision and endless diapers, will come into view a little more clearly.

For now, like Rosita, I get creative. I write in between the cracks of my full days. This may include the early morning with a cup of coffee, an afternoon when The Babies simultaneously nap while the Older Two entertain themselves. Or a random evening when I can get away without neglecting family time. The structured part of me prefers a more disciplined routine with strict writing hours and a “DO NOT INTERRUPT ME UNLESS DEATH IS IMMINENT” sign on the door of my designated office space. But those perks are simply impossible. To insist on them is unrealistic and leads only to resentment.

Here’s a picture of my writing space these days: a red vinyl, antique chair.

I grab my laptop and ear buds, close my bedroom door, and crank out as many words as possible in about two hours. Sometimes I head to a coffee shop, which provides the “I’m at work” feel but lately, I prefer not to use valuable writing time to drive. I can’t afford a cabin in the woods or some fabulous “aspiring author” retreat but I do have a comfy chair and a door that closes. For now, that’s enough.

Many of you are struggling to make your dream a reality. You’re working one or more jobs to pay the bills and/or you’re parenting full-time. You’ve got this other “thing” that you firmly believe you were created to do, a dream that makes you come alive but you feel limited in how to move forward in it. You’re not alone. Rosita & I can totally relate. And we’re hopeful that you can find a way to do both.

I have two questions that I hope will help you as you consider your dreams in light of your reality:

  • What is a dream that you’ve put on hold or stepped away from due to lack of time and resources?
  • What is one practical thing you can do now to help make your dream a reality?

Would love to hear how your creativity and resourcefulness have helped in the pursuit of your dreams.

Katie Carper is a recovering people-pleaser with a strong sense of justice and a deep desire to include the excluded. She’s grateful for strong coffee, laughter, and this adventurous life with her husband and 4 kiddos. You can find her at katiecarper.com where she writes about issues related to faith, justice, and parenthood. She also shares snippets of her life on Instagram.

8 thoughts on “When Your Reality Seems to Rival Your Dream

  1. Karen

    No time to craft an articulate response to this – but a quick sec to say thanks. I am just inches ahead of you in the journey – where the babes are all in full-time school so my pockets of time are exponentially greater than before (and yet, somehow still not enough for the big dream). Love your daughter’s insight. I’m particularly partial to ten-year-old kids. The stories in my head exploded when I was nursing our fourth born – not the most convenient time by any means. I would settle him back to bed and fly to the computer and pound out the inspiration. No idea where it will lead, but baby steps. Cheering you on!

    1. Katie

      Karen,

      Thank you for taking the time to respond! I love connecting with other dreamers who are working hard to make their dreams reality. I appreciate your encouragement, especially as one who is a little further ahead on the journey. Cheers to baby steps!

  2. Ariel

    This was much needed. “It’s okay” – I don’t need to feel inadequate due to lack of progress or any such thing. The tension is okay. Yes.

    1. Katie

      I’m so glad this resonated with you, Ariel. May you take each day as a gift, keep moving forward in the direction of your dreams, and embrace the tension in this season.

  3. Robin

    This is beautiful. Perfect. I also have four small people at home and find myself doing what I can, as fast as I can when the little two nap and the big two “entertain themselves” (which, in my house, is good mom code for “watch netflix.”)

    Thanks for writing these words, presumably during one or more of your precious nap times. I love the Baby Era and the babies who make it, but also the dreams simmer just below, waiting for another day. (Or, in the mean time, netflix & nap time.)

    1. Katie

      Thank you for your kind words, Robin. I appreciate that your hands are full with four, as well, and that you can relate to this struggle. And yes, I speak your code language, too. “Entertain themselves” = iPad fun. Shhhh…it’ll be our secret. Keeping dreaming, my friend.

    1. Katie

      Thank you for taking the time to reply, Rachel! Haha! I don’t know how you missed the original post either. I won’t even try to figure that out because I am a technological idiot. Truly.

      Your kiddos are all grown and out of the house but you are still a busy woman: married, farming, caring for animals & land, active in your church and community…you’ve got a lot going on, too. You understand that tension and know what it requires to keep moving toward your dreams while living in your reality (which is also beautiful). Would love to connect with you sometime in person to talk about life–and writing.

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