The Dream I Never Knew I Had

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming a star on Broadway. It wasn’t just a dream – it was a longing, an ache somewhere deep down in my soul. Before I was ten, I had memorized every song from Annie – The Musical and, as I got older, I committed to memory the lyrics from Hair, Fame, Cats and Phantom of the Opera. I took drama classes, joined a local children’s theater group and got as far as the Alliance Theater and the stage at the Punchline Comedy Club in Atlanta. I loved it with a hot fiery intensity, and yet I let it go. I turned my attention to boys and BFFs, and merely dabbled my way through Show Choir in high school and Glee Club in college before letting it go completely. To this day, I still sing at the top of my lungs in the shower and in my car, and I never miss an episode of Glee or American Idol.  I have no regrets – I know now that it wasn’t the path I was meant to take.

When I was a young journalism student at the University of Georgia, I dreamed of becoming a foreign correspondent. I yearned to travel to distant shores and learn about the people who lived there. I wanted desperately to join the ranks of H.R. Knickerbocker, Edward R. Murrow, Morley Safer and Peter Arnett. I practiced my pronunciation of difficult leaders’ names and perfected a clipped speech pattern until I felt it was reminiscent of a blend between Walter Cronkite and Jane Pauley. I wrote make believe reports with a poetic flair, and performed them before my bathroom mirror with hairbrush in place of a microphone. Then two events occurred to crush my dream: 1) I registered for a Broadcast Journalism course and froze every time I stood before the camera, and 2) I watched CNN’s 24-hour reporting from the Persian Gulf War.  The mental image of Bernard Shaw, John Holliman and Peter Arnett seeking refuge under a table in their hotel room during the first bombing of Baghdad terrified me rather than set a fire in my belly to hop the next plane and join them. In truth, the only time I had ever traveled beyond America’s borders was for a high school graduation cruise to Mexico – I hardly ever left the Southeast, let alone the state of Georgia. My sense of adventure was relegated to living inside my own head (which really turned out to be a perfect situation for an unbeknown aspiring writer).  I have no regrets – that wasn’t the path I was meant to take, either.

Instead, in college, I found my feet firmly planted on another path.  I met my best friend for life, who also happened to be my future husband. He taught me to stop looking to the future, but rather to live in the moment.  The future suddenly seemed wide open – something I no longer needed to define and could not confine to any one dream. We married shortly after graduation, and built our home in Georgia. Talk eventually turned to growing our family, and I felt the excitement building – just as it had when I dreamed of standing onstage or under fire in some war torn nation. It was strange – I had been a TERRIBLE babysitter growing up. I was never really comfortable with small children, never knew what to say to them or do with them. It didn’t come naturally to me – or so I thought. What kind of mother would I be? It took ten months to become pregnant, and with each failed attempt – I found myself wanting that elusive baby all the more. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for those parents who wait years for a successful pregnancy. Once I learned I was pregnant, I felt the love growing inside me right along with that sweet baby. When she arrived, everything fell into place. My first daughter was joined by a second just two years and eight months later, and I became completely fulfilled. Being a mom was a dream I never knew I had. While I would never claim to be the World’s Best Mom – I yell too much, cuss too much and occasionally brush their hair more vigorously than required – I am a far better mom than I ever would have imagined. Thanks to them, rather than looking to tomorrow and dreaming of what COULD be, I am living for TODAY and wishing it could stay this way forever.  Rather than dreaming of a happily ever after – I get to live it every day.