3/21/2014

following dreams, in the real world.


The house was abnormally quiet as I stood over the stovetop with an old wooden spoon in my hand, pushing red clumps of sizzling ground beef back and forth. My boys were playing in the backyard, their screams and giggles muted by the walls that stood between us, leaving me alone with only the sounds of that stovetop and the thoughts that echoed in my head.
I had just gotten home from an eight-hour shift at the office. I had spent my day stapling papers, cutting checks, filling out paperwork and talking to insurance companies. I was still lagging from waking up with a toddler that had a nightmare at 3:00 that morning. My eyes were glazed with fatigue and my hips were aching from my 7-month baby belly that now protrudes proudly as though I have stuffed a basketball underneath my shirt.
As the meat cooked and sputtered in front of me, I felt robotic and was suddenly aware of how utterly and completely unexciting this was. Eight hour shifts at the office, cooking average spaghetti for dinner, after which we would head upstairs for bath time followed by the evening news, maybe a walk around the block, and then bedtime.  Just to wake up and do it all over again the next day.
As I stirred the red ragu sauce and drained the noodles, suddenly my life felt truly bleak and mundane. Where was the passion? Wasn’t I supposed to be following my dreams? Climbing mount everest and traveling to foreign countries on the weekends? Making a living doing what I love to do, like designing clothes or writing novels? Why wasn’t I doing these things? What had I done wrong in the past that led me here, standing over a stove top and making ordinary spaghetti while feeling so…bored?
Fast forward three hours: the sun had gone down and our active toddler was fresh from the bath with damp strawberry hair and smelling of lavender lotion while sporting his new fire truck pajamas. His “ya-jam-us”, as he calls them. The evening news was on and my little family was crammed on the couch in front of the tv. Dad was in the middle, feet propped up on the coffee table, with Jace and I on either side of him, our legs rested across his lap. Rockie was squished between us, her backside burrowed into my thigh and her face nuzzled into Dan’s stomach.
And this was it. Suddenly, just as suddenly as the realization that my life was a complete bore, this was it. There we were as a family, tangled together lazily on the couch after our long-filled day. And suddenly being together was not only thrilling but also kind of the only place I would choose to be. We are family. We chose each other, we know the best of each other and the worst of each other and we have this really big plan to stay together for the rest of our lives. We have inside jokes together. We can be unreservedly ourselves in front of each other without remorse or embarrassment. This home is a safe haven for the kids we are planning to raise. We teach each other and grow together every day.  We all live for each other, mom and dad for jace and jace for mom and dad and rockie for us all and there is no one else in the entire world that I live and breathe and bleed solely for. There is no one else in the entire world that I would choose to be with every single day.
The exhilaration of living my dreams is always there, this fire inside of me that you probably couldn’t extinguish if you tried. I have passions and hobbies and big, big plans. But the truth of the matter is that it’s not logical or realistic to quit my job and pursue my dreams, not in the way the cliché memes of the pinterest world would have you believe. Dan and I pay for a roof over our heads, we pay for a car to drive, and we pay for health insurance and groceries and weekend road trips. We live check to check and go out to eat an awful lot. We do what works for us, and although it might be thrilling to quit our day jobs so we could travel the world and follow our dreams well, ultimately that would most likely lead to our living out of the car, without health insurance, feeding our children from dumpsters and our dog from the grass that we picked on the side of the road.
There is no shame in making an honest living and supporting the life you have. There shouldn’t be regret for having mundane days, where you work underpaid and then come home to clean and bathe children and decide between cooking dinner or ordering pizza. Roasting s’mores around the campfire on summer nights, planting in the garden, playing catch in the backyard, taking long walks around the neighborhood while discussing what movie we should rent from the nearest redbox that night.
Sometimes it can feel dawdling, but then there are other times when I am acutely aware that in twenty years these very days and memories will be the ones that bring tears to my eyes and fill my heart right up. I am living my dreams.
I avidly believe that you can “follow your dreams” while living an “ordinary” life. You can be married and raise children and work hard at a cliché office job, and sometimes it can be completely unexciting and boring and hard. Really, really freaking hard. But you can still be living your dreams all the same.
Working towards goals like paying off debt. Watching your son hold a bat and hit his first baseball. Going on trips that make for grand memories. Buying a home together and making it your own. Date nights away from the kids. Prevailing over gigantic milestones. Traditional Sunday dinners with grandparents and cousins. Holidays together. Learning something new every single day.
And then find the hobbies and passions outside of your day job that make your life your own. Whether it’s reading new books or running marathons, painting, cooking, taking nice pictures, dancing, hiking, writing, playing video games… whatever it is, you find what you love doing and you do it when you can.
For people like me that are spending the majority of our time being a partner and raising a family, well just remember that whether it’s up or down, when it’s exciting or boring, it’s all an adventure. It’s what we make of it.
And amidst the flashes of unrealistic life that is painted on pinterest and movies and magazines, well it’s nice to have that reminder sometimes. Living your dreams is so much more than any of that. We are living our dreams, each in our own ways. That’s real life and that’s okay.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have an oil stain on my pants that I need to wash out and a husband and toddler waiting for me in the backyard so we can plant some carrots and onions in the garden before we head into town to deposit a paycheck and buy some groceries for our bare kitchen. Living the dream, I tell you. 

And there's honestly no where else I'd rather be.

2 comments:

  1. Okay so I kind of LOVE this post!! Me and Justin are always, always, talking about our big dreams and when we have these discussions the words "maybe someday" are frequently used. But you are SO right! Our dreams really are happening now. We have a beautiful little boy, are in our own home, have a funny spastic dog, have good steady jobs, and are happily married. Really, what more do we need?

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