Dreams Don’t Die with Motherhood

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’m pregnant.

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.

“No.”

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


Kelsi Folsom is the wife of a medical school student and a mom-to-three navigating marriage and motherhood with black coffee, ink stains, Maria Callas records, and a whole lot of prayer. Her essays and poems are published in Motherly, the DC-Area Moms Blog, The Caribbean Writer, Mothers Always Write and elsewhere. Her first full-length collection of poetry, Buried In The Margins releases with Finishing Line Press in 2020. She enjoys traveling with her family, getting lost in a good novel, and occasionally putting her B.M. in Voice Performance to good use. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and at her website.