Why I Don’t Miss Dreaming
If my parenting experience was a bottled beverage, it’s brand would be “Simply Tired”. It may not sound delicious but it’s honest, no frills and with or without the pulp depending on my season.
I am a working class mother. In the little time I do have away from my 4 year old, I’m piecing together resources to make family life a more seamless experience. I do a different kind of self-discovering from a single and curious young person with CEO dreams, where I figure out what’s best for us and would improve my family’s prospects. My 20's have been unglamorous by pop culture standard. I have to consider other people when I act so there’s little room for looking agaze into the “what ifs”. I don’t get to dream and I’m fine with that.
My father did not get to dream.
He served as a marine and attended John Jay College with hopes of being a lawyer. He worked as a correction officer for the NYPD and was fired as a result of what he described as a being targeted by racist supervisors (early 80s). His career descended with out financial support but he could not just flee away from family because of dreams derailed. He didn’t blame my mom or feel sorry for himself and worked as a city bus driver for 25 years after that. My dad stayed tight lipped and worked overtime to make sure we were in a better position than he ever could ever be. I am better because of him. He had other mild talents that could’ve estranged him away from us but that wasn’t a thought. He’s now retired with properties in his name and getting ready to open a general store in his hometown. He’s a hero, and by no means do I devalue his hard work because he “wasted talent”.
We are taught in formative years to dream big. When choosing a career path, people preach to “do what you love, love what you do”. What is love if money was not a factor? If money wasn’t an option, I personally couldn’t imagine any kind of work I would love more than being mother. Anything other than that would feel like hard labor. I can’t speak for other people. If I did have the option of choosing any career path right now with out obstacles I would ask myself, how fulfilling would it be? How am I contributing to the world or my community? Is it something I really love to do, or is it just aestetically pleasing?
Our country is built on the backs of millions of people who can’t simply do what they love (or merely like) and survive.
When we only celebrate those who “followed their dreams”, we are dismissive of the working class like they’ve missed their marks to explore their profitable talents and settled. If we all danced on the milkyway toward fashionable dreams, who would do our dirty work? Work is work, whether you love it or not. There are parts in any career or job where you won’t absolutely love all things about it, so why do we sell this image to each other that any kind of work is any more or less pleasurable than the next? Sounds like the zest of elitism.
I think the biggest misconception about the working class citizen is that we are humble. That is not an accurate word I would use to describe myself. I know my importance. I am intelligent and know my family is a microcosm of an overall progressive America. Families make up communities and I’m proud to say I am invested in mine. When more people realize their purposes, nurture their families and show respect for the working class like we do A-list, then I think we can all truly take one giant leap forward.
Dreaming is unrealistic when someone requires your full attention. I have mended the mantra from “do what you love” to: “do what is necessary to increase your family’s prospects”. I see some who take blind leaps toward a career to please their egos, and could be perhaps leaving their purposes behind.
What do I love to do?
I love to be respected. Respect has nothing to do with my labor. Even though work is not always pleasurable, when I see my daughter’s smile after a long day and her cheeks press against my shoulders, stress is relieved. Her appreciation of my labor is healing. She is what I love and parenting is what I do. I’ll stay awake for those reasons.
This essay was originally published November 2014 on my blog that doesn’t exist anymore. I revisited it today because, well…it’s true.