Friday, March 30, 2012

The Importance of Childhood Dreams

A Double Rainbow
Recently, my 6-year-old son had a school assignment that asked him to imagine what he might want to be when he grows up.  At first, he was extremely uncooperative, insisting that he didn’t know.  After I pressed him further, he got more shielded and claimed that he didn’t need to know because he was never going to grow up!

At that point, I decided it would be best for us to take a break.  Watching him and his sister play “restaurant” from across the room, I tried to take myself back to the day when it was me and my younger brother having little squabbles over which plate goes where and what pretend meals to cook.  Was I once that hesitant to share my dreams with my own mother?  Did I even have any dreams of the future at all?  Or was I too busy being a kid and enjoying the simple things in life to realize the possibilities?

Over the years since my son was born, I’ve realized that he and I are one and the same.  He has the same light blonde hair and blue eyes I used to have.  He has that same shy habit of looking away to smile.  And he has the same ability to create wondrous adventures out of the simplest of objects around him.  Consequently, I knew that the secret to unlocking his deepest hopes and dreams lied deep within myself.

As my thoughts went back farther and farther into my past, I realized that what I told people I wanted to be when I grew up was constantly changing.  Teacher, fire fighter, police officer, astronaut, singer, veterinarian, and even the NFL’s first female quarterback was on my list at one time or another.  The list went on and on really.

However, underneath it all, I always had a secret dream I was too afraid to share with anyone else: I wanted to write!  I wished to write my own stories so kids could find refuge from life’s hardships and dream big.  I hoped to create poetry that could make the hardest heart cry and the saddest soul laugh.  I dreamed of writing beautiful songs that would touch the lives of others and preserve their fondest memories.

From first grade on, I started secretly writing little stories and poems and creating simple tunes in my head.  I hid them away so no one could find them, for fear someone might laugh at my precious dream.  Over the years, writing was the outlet for my hopes and joys, as well as my sorrows and disappointments.  Sadly, all my stories were lost and only 2 of my early poems survived.  Here is my earliest remaining poem, which I wrote when I was only 12 years old:

I have found that there can be
A hero in everyone,
But most people give up
Before they’ve barely begun.
Yes, they often give up
Before the problem is solved,
Especially when
Important things are involved.
If only they would look
Inside, they might find
That all the strength and courage
They need is in their heart and mind!
I know it is very hard
To stand up for what is right,
But if you have faith in God,
He’ll stand with you for the fight.
So never give up
And hold onto your dreams,
‘Cause shooting for the stars
Can show what life really means.

Even back then, in my own 12-year-old way, I knew the importance of following your dreams.  And here I am 22 years later after my dream first took flight, still reaching for my stars and doing what I’ve always loved to do.  I know I’m not the best writer and I still have much to learn.  Yet, life is about finding those things you can’t imagine yourself without and following them wherever they lead.

There is no doubt in my mind that I couldn’t be happy unless I continued to write.  It’s hardwired into my brain and into my very soul.  When I’m overjoyed I must share it by writing.  When I’m heartbroken and lost my emotions must flow from my heart and into the written word.  Without some paper and pencil or keys under my fingers, I feel dead and not myself.  For me, to live is to write and to write is to live.  It isn’t everything, but without my writing, I wouldn’t be whole.

Ultimately, that is what I want to teach my children and bring out in my son.  No matter what his dreams might be, I want him to chase them fearlessly.  After some more gentle coaxing and stories of my own dreams, I finally got my sweet little man to open his heart to me.  He smiled enthusiastically with his eyes shining with excitement and told me he wants to make new kinds of vacuum cleaners.  I knew immediately that this was his true dream because he has always had a big fascination with vacuums since he was a baby.  Whether or not he’ll still be dreaming this same dream 15 or 20 years down the road, I hope that whatever he chooses brings him as much joy and purpose as my writings does to me!


  1. Beautiful photo!

  2. parenting has a way of causing us to look into ourselves. you found something in yourself that can help you be a better parent!! Beautiful!!
    and just for the future, can your little guy make a really powerful vacuum cleaner that doesn't lose suction, that doesn't get clogged, and if it's bagless, it doesn't make such a mess when you try to empty it?

    1. LOL I wouldn't be surprised if my son already has a few ideas on how to improve vacuums. The sound of a vacuum cleaner was one of the first sounds he learned as a baby and his fascination still is growing. He's more excited in the vacuum/scrubber aisle than in the toy aisle when we go shopping!

  3. This is SUCH a great post - Absolutely love :) I am a first time mom, had my little girl right after I turned 30. Sometimes I feel like I'm too old for this - all of my friends have kids who are grown up now! But I love that at this age, I'm more settled and secure in my life, and am able to really and truly appreciate the blessings I have with her :)

  4. I love it that you dreamed of writing since you were young! It's obvious you have talent in that area. Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Thanks, Rebecca, for stopping by. I appreciate your input! :)