My mom had a dream when she was young. She wanted to be a surgical nurse.
Mom grew up as a middling child in a large family. Her family lived in the boonies, and had little money. Her dad was a boat captain, and was away all week. All of the children worked hard to take care of what little they had.
Mom’s oldest brother was the star of the family. Highly intelligent, he left home after high school and put himself through Duke University, eventually becoming a respected physician. Mom admired her big brother. In those days, women didn’t dare dream of being an actual doctor. However, mom dreamed of the next best thing, which to her meant being a surgical nurse.
She imagined being in the operating room, messy as it was, helping to save lives and to really make a difference. When she was old enough, she would visit her brother and helped him in his practice. She did a great job, apparently, because her brother, who was a tough judge of character, often invited her back.
As mom grew older, of course she started dating. For many young girls in her town, marriage was the ultimate goal. Mom’s home wasn’t really a very happy place, and, like most of her siblings, she couldn’t wait to get away. However, her dream wasn’t marriage – it was college.
She often imagined marrying a handsome doctor, and helping him in his practice. Together they would save lives.
But, as is often the case, things don’t always go as planned. My mom dated, and she met my dad. He was persistent, and they fell in love. Before she knew it, my oldest sister came, and she found herself married, alone, in an apartment distant from her familiar surroundings. My dad worked four jobs just to keep them above water. Her dreams of surgery simply faded away in the face of a powerful reality. And she had a nervous breakdown.
From what I hear from others, my mom’s story isn’t really all that different from the story of many others from her generation. She was raising children in the post World War II baby boom. Her world was moving fast. My dad, a traditional guy, didn’t approve of my mom going off to college. I mean, who would raise their children? Where would the money come from? It just wasn’t a woman’s place, and besides, childish dreams had little place in the real world.
Eventually, my mom accepted her fate, as it was. She never seriously pursued her dream, though she spoke of it often to us children. I suspect that she resented my dad, and perhaps she secretly resented us kids as well, for preventing her from pursuing her dream. Though she never admitted to it.
My mom’s story is one I never want to hear again. I don’t mean from her. I mean from me. Or from you. Particularly in this age of possibilities, I believe that no one has an excuse to give up on their dreams. Particularly not if the excuse is that they now have a family to support and raise.
Certainly, changes in our life’s situation require that we adjust our approach to a dream. A now paraplegic has to adjust his or her dream of becoming an athlete. Yet I’ll bet there is some way to achieve the core of whatever drove that dream.
The handicapped person can face real challenges. And they overcome them everyday. If your challenge is that you have a job, and a family, and bills, and a cranky boss, and a dull life, well, whose fault is that? And what are you going to do about it?
What about your true dreams? Those things that defined you before your life got dull? Do you plan that they be victims of your current life’s circumstances as well?
Join us at Families Without Limits. Post, as a response to this post, your story. We all need to be inspired by your story. Or the story of one of your loved ones as I just told. It may be an ordinary story. I don’t care. Most stories are ordinary. If they are stories of the tragic failure to live a life to its fullest, we need to hear about it. If it’s the story of how someone refused to sacrifice their life on the funeral pyre of conventional life expectations, we definitely want to hear about it.
Together, we can save an entire generation from the nervous breakdown that accompanies the loss of our life’s true purpose. We can prevent a tragedy of generational proportions.
Will you join me? It all starts with your post. Please, tell us about it…
All the best,