Dreams and aspirations are funny. By funny, I mean interesting. By interesting, I mean challenging. By challenging, I mean so scary and seemingly impossible, you tend to keep them in your back pocket for a lifetime, and maybe only bring them up after a couple of glasses of wine. “I always wanted to open a dude ranch. Oh, is that Chardonnay?” It’s safe that way. It can be easier to encourage someone else to go for their dreams sometimes. It’s easier to say “oh, you should totally do that.” When it doesn’t work out, no one can point the failure finger at you. But what if you want a dream so badly for someone else, that it becomes yours? That it HAS TO become yours.
My son passing away was life’s biggest
slap punch in the face. It not only jolted my husband and I into the cliché realization that life is too short – life is not meant to be lived unhappy. After some time stewing in constant sadness, it was time to start finding what our new happy would be.
What did our new family version of happy look like? We knew we couldn’t be happy all of the time, but we became very aware of things in life that were contributing to unhappiness. My husband wasn’t passionate about his current profession (putting it mildly) and his hovering regret of never finishing his bachelor’s degree was floating close by. He always wanted to be a high school P.E. teacher.
Well, there it was…the wanting turned into becoming. At almost thirty-five years old, my husband was going back to school. We’d found a satellite campus close by, of a larger university, and he enrolled. Three years into a four-year plan, several deferred student loans waiting in the wings, and two more children later, we’re still going strong. Notice the ‘we’ in that statement?
For my husband’s dream to come true, we both had to RSVP ‘yes’ to the party. My husband is writing papers, creating PowerPoint presentations, submitting applications, ordering books, taking/passing state exams, studying, recording hours in the classroom and substitute teaching.
My role, to sum it up…keep the ship sailing. I want to be as supportive as I can and what that looks like can change at any time. One thing that has spanned the length of this dream-conquering, is bringing in a steady income. While it’s not covering all of the monthly expenses, it has helped to prolong the times in between delicate and necessary trips to our savings account. Other acts involving my figurative pom-poms (I’d bust out with real ones if it led to extra credit) include proof-reading papers, Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint assistance, IT support, ordering more paper and ink, keeping kids entertained while daddy studies, and finding tax benefits for students.
I’m not the student, I’m the cheerleader. And it’s hard. Really hard. I can say things like “I fully support you”, but still feel like his studying is conveniently commencing as another dirty diaper is ready to be changed. Or I can get mad at the dream when it means I have to pass up a dinner date with girlfriends, because it falls on a school night. I can get sad thinking about the family time we’re missing out on because there’s another paper to write. I can think of several times that I’ve wanted to light a pom-pom on fire, rather than wave it around chanting “we’ve got spirit”. Dreams are not easy.
A key component for making this work, is feeling appreciated for the sacrifices I’m making. My husband understands the work that I’m putting towards this dream. And no, it doesn’t just go without saying. I need to hear it and I do. “Thank you.”
I’m really excited about this new adventure for my husband and for our family. It’s a struggle now, but I’m looking forward to more time together, two incomes, two happy parents and two kids who are learning invaluable lessons about doing what you want in life.
If I wasn’t on board, where would we be? Hard to say, being that it didn’t really feel like a decision anymore. Go back to school or be sad and miserable. That’s just how we felt. And maybe that’s what it has to feel like in order to set dreams in motion. Like there’s no choice anymore. Yes, I’d like to think that my husband would have found a new job that created at least a tolerable level of happiness. But we’d still be visited by the thoughts of “what if”. Retirement is a long ways off. By the time my husband finds a full-time teaching job, he’ll still have an opportunity for 25+ years in the profession. I know, it’s invigorating and upsetting at the same time. Perspective people. Life is too short, but it’s also long enough to seek out what you enjoy, live it and give real thought to becoming your dream. Or supporting someone else’s.