A little notebook sits on the back, left corner of a small, brown table in the tiny kitchen of my cottage on the Dutch Caribbean Island of Saba. No matter how many times I spray and wipe down the wooden surface, a thin film of “too many chaotic dinners” remains. I reach for this journal, alone with my thoughts, brushing away the ever-increasing colony of ants shacking up on the front cover.
I’m supposed to write a poem, but the only material at my fingertips is my crazy life with a brood of children I can’t seem to keep up with.
Who wants to engage with metaphors about dishes piling up into the night, or raggedy nightgowns, or high chairs covered in mac and cheese, or flashing tempers? Who cares about this life of exhaustion and noise?
Just three years before, I was an aspiring opera singer, fresh out of college with a B.M. in Voice Performance. Taking the world’s most prestigious stages by storm was the big dream at the forefront of my mind. Domestic life was not in the picture. Already I had a few professional gigs booked; I would snatch a husband and litter the decades with children at some point, after.
One month following graduation, I met my now-husband, and the trajectory of my life changed dramatically. He was a pre-med student, but I figured most of the universities boasting stellar medical school programs also had amazing graduate opera programs. I could be happily married and still track with my vocational goals. It was all coming together.
Two months after we married, I felt different. A stick of pink plastic confirmed what I already knew.
I struggled to reconcile my scary excitement with the acute reality that what I hoped to be doing with my life was coming to a screeching halt.
Would these dreams die with the birth of a child?
Fast forward five years, four states, three natural disasters, two more children, and one international move, and I can finally answer that question.
Well, maybe sorta…
Dreams are remade, reborn, and refined with each evolving year. I’m not headlining the world’s leading opera houses and concert halls, but I have performed in multiple venues around the world since having children, most recently in Opera San Antonio’s production of Puccini’s Tosca.
I am intentional about keeping up my skills, but as a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom, I don’t have a lot of time to hunt down opportunities. However, I do have the choice every day to seize the unique moments God puts before me. Wherever we have gone, singing has followed, and I am so thankful to the God who sees that it still matters to me.
Motherhood and dreaming can coexist.
On that morning two years ago while sitting at my ant-covered, slightly sticky kitchen table, I had no idea that the poems I began to scrawl in my notebook would turn into a full-length collection of poetry that would get picked up for publication. This month sees the release of Buried in the Margins, a collection of poems about marriage, motherhood, faith, and upheaval. I could not be more thrilled to give testimony to the validity and beauty of dreams, whether they are alive and well or they need the magic of resurrection. Sometimes dreams lie dormant, but then they blossom in the most unexpected ways.
If the leftover pieces of my messy, chaotic life can aggregate into art, then yours can too—Whether that is making a homemade meal for your family, volunteering in your community, taking a class on a subject that has always interested you, revising old dreams, or leaning into new ones.
I thought motherhood would only pin my wings, and I would have to dream smaller. Although parenting is supremely challenging, it has only served to make my heart bigger and help me fly higher
Love, love, love this. Needed this. Thank you.
So glad it resonated with you Jen! Blessings on your own unique journey
Amazing story, so inspiring!
Claudia, so glad my story could inspire yours 🙂
Kelsi – Congratulations on your new book Buried in the Margins. I will be looking for it. I was inspired by this piece as it says so much about dreams – that perhaps get deferred but do not die. I am happy for you that your dream is still alive and well and that you are passing on a legacy of following your dreams to your children,. Blessings to you and yours this day.
Thank you Barbara, my hope for my story is that it will inspire others to keep their eyes and hearts a little more open to the unexpected opportunities that could bring deep joy. God made our hearts and I love encouraging others to listen to the dreams God put in there–to bring him glory and give us delight. Thanks for reading 🙂
I applaud you for not letting go of your dream and still pursuing it in some fashion while motherhood demands take center stage. Once I became a mother it took over my whole identity such that now, years later as my kids are teens, I barely have ideas of individual dreams or goals.
Nancy, thank you for your words! My mother had a similar experience to you—i think some of that is generational. There are so many more ways now to be connected to the “world at large” via the internet, social media, etc. With blogging and online journals, forums, online classes, it’s easier to maintain creative pursuits while being a stay at home mom. I bless your days with new dreams and pursuits to bring you delight and flourish your community ❤️ Thanks for reading
Such an acute message for other women who dangle “in the margins” and that’s probably almost all of us, for one reason or another. I found that my dreams were simply colored a different shade in areas, and always affected by the ‘others’ in my life, which I wouldn’t trade for the world. Wonderful, reassuring read!
I love how you phrased it—“my dreams were simply shaded a different color.” I feel the same way, my heart and desires are still engaged, but the “dreams” don’t look the same way they did when I was 22 and single—and yes, I would not trade it for the world. Blessing your days with peace and joy, thank you for reading ❤️
So glad I found your page. I’m a poetry-writing mama as well and this resonated with me deeply. Thank you for sharing.
Inspiring women ❤️
Such a lovely post. It reflects my sentiments. I guess no stage of our life is ideal for motherhood. When motherhood comes it leaves a gap in everything else we do. It is the only thing that becomes the focus of four attention then. Your are absolutely true in your feelings. 🙂
As a mum and writer, this piece really resonates with me. Lovely writing.