When talking about Babies and Dreams, there’s a side that I think is often missed: you can’t have it all, all of the time.
I wasn’t the girl who dreamed about staying home with my babies, though I did always want to be a mom. I didn’t dream of messy days baking in the kitchen with little ones at my feet. I have never been good at cleaning or homemaking. And my decorating skills involve finding something on Pinterest, saying “I like that,” and then having no idea how to make it actually materialize. My husband does that part, as he is talented in having a creative vision and executing it.
Instead, I dreamt of teaching. I dreamt about having both worlds: home in the summers, working in the school year. But for many reasons, that dream is not right for our family right now. So for now, I am home with my girls and teach one homeschool class a week. That hour and a half of teaching is deeply fulfilling; I love sharing my gifts with students and helping them to grow in wisdom and knowledge.
Staying home with my girls brings me more joy than I ever imagined to be possible. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want more.
I want to get my master’s degree and eventually my doctorate. I want to teach at the college level. I want to help form young adults and encourage them as they prepare to enter professional life. I want to write a book. I want to be a part of the intellectual life of our Church. And when I look at charisms that I have—teaching, wisdom, encouragement, knowledge—this dream is a direct expression of those charisms. I know that I can serve God, my family, and the Church through this dream. But now is not the time for it. To this dream, Christ is not saying “no”, but rather, “not yet.”
It is hard sometimes to see college classmates starting their PhDs, graduating from Master’s programs, going on to big things. It is so easy to compare. To think, “look at all they are doing. And what have I done?”
I am raising two daughters of God. I am raising them to look to Christ for their answers. I am supporting my husband in his career, so that eventually, we can make my dream happen when the timing is right. I am supporting him so that we can raise our daughters not for this life, but for eternity.
God does not tell us that we will not have to make sacrifices. He does not say that we will be able to have it all, all of the time. The idea of “having it all, all the time” is a lie. A deceptive, attractive lie that encourages selfishness and greed. It’s the lie of the feminist movement, that encourages women to pursue “having it all” at any cost.
What cost is worth having it all, all the time? Not my peace. Not my faith. Not my mental or physical health. Not peace in my marriage. All were on the table when I was teaching full time. Perhaps some would not struggle as I did, but for me, the cost of having all of my dreams right now was too high.
And so my dream changed. I still want to get my doctorate. I still want to teach at the college level. But I also want to be present to my girls, in a way that I couldn’t when I was working full time. I want to stay home with them in their early years. I want to support my husband by striving to create a peaceful home. I want to focus on raising our girls to love Christ, remembering that the purpose of this life is to love and serve God, and not to store up accolades and awards.
And, when it is time, when it won’t cost me my peace, I will go on to get my doctorate. I’ll pursue this other dream, because I see that it uses my talents. I have so much I want to share with others, and I believe Christ wants me to share my talents with others. I do not believe these dreams are fully my own. But I can see that “for everything, there is a season” and that now is not the season for that dream.
It is ok to have dreams that are bigger than your babies. To have dreams that you know you can’t pursue for a time. The key lies in accepting God’s answer of “not yet, my beloved” and then being able to be present to where one is in life now. It is not always easy, and comparison often sneaks in.
I see the mothers who are working full-time, and I struggle not to envy them. I wonder at how they are “doing it all,” until I remember—most of them aren’t. Some may have hired help. Others will let dishes go undone, laundry unfolded, may be dealing with high levels of stress or anxiety—whatever it may be, there are crosses that come with working full-time when one has little children at home. Of course, there are many crosses that come from being home full-time with little children, and the laundry often goes undone anyway, but for me, the crosses of being home full-time right now are less than what I’d have to ask my family to give up if I were working full-time. It has been a long road to come to peace with that and to own that.
So when we speak of babies and dreams, we should be careful to avoid the attitude of “women can have it all.” Motherhood will demand sacrifice. Those sacrifices are often difficult and will often demand that some of our dreams have to wait. But the joy in motherhood comes in finding a new dream, in finding the joy in simply being present to our children, in the joy of the sacrifice. For love is sacrifice, and so the more we love, the more we freely sacrifice. And in doing so, we become free. Free of false attachments, free of pride, free of vanity, free of selfishness.
Perhaps that is the beauty of motherhood, of being asked to delay our own dreams. For when the time is right to pursue the dream to which God has said, “not yet” we can pursue it more freely. We can pursue it having been made more selfless by the hard work of motherhood. We can pursue it not for our own gratification, but for the glory of God.
And that alone will make the wait for my other dreams worth it.