The other night during dinner, my family and I were having a conversation about plans, and my son threw a question to me: What was your dream?
The question startled me, and I stumbled. Had I had any dreams at all at his age? He gives the impression that he sees his goals very clearly, that they are quite specific. But I don’t recall having that kind of clarity just out of high school.
I’d had the notion when I was young that I would like to sing, to be a singer, to be a songwriter, and this was a dream I held into my thirties. But if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that this wasn’t a goal for me in the way that my son’s dreams are goals for him, because I never truly believed that singing or songwriting was a viable occupation for me. And this was largely because I had no example in my life of a person who’d pursued any type of creative life, nor did I have any adult in my life who supported what was viewed as an unconventional kind of existence.
My children are just beginning to understand that they have a kind of support that many other young people don’t receive from their families.
What was my dream? My greatest dream, the one I pursued doggedly though I barely realized it when I was very young, was to have a close, loving, supportive family. That was it. Everything else was secondary. I had a vision of the type of family I wanted to be part of, and I endeavored to create it for myself over the course of several decades, through friendships, through romantic relationships, through becoming a parent, through searching for and reuniting with my biological relatives. I longed to feel I belonged somewhere, to be wholly accepted by someone.
My kids may never be able to understand the kind of dream I carried in my heart because the need I have is not one they’ve ever experienced. They’ve always seen parts of themselves in me and in their father, in each other, in their extended family. They’ve always been encouraged to share what’s in their hearts. They’ve always been reassured that whatever kind of life they desire to create for themselves, their parents are on board. They have the freedom to dream other kinds of dreams because of the base of support we’ve provided them.
And now I realize that I can say, I did it, I accomplished my dream. I created for myself the kind of family life I always wanted. In this home, I am free to be wholly myself. These people know me as I actually am, and everything I am is okay with them. They encourage and support me, and they teach me, too. We honestly enjoy each other and want to spend time together. That was always the dream.