I was recently watching “Ricki and the Flash” with my mother-in-law when she asked me if I related to the Ricki character at all (Meryl Streep’s character, who abandoned her family years earlier to pursue a career as a musician). I told her that I related to the part about wanting to fulfill your dreams, but not about the fact that she abandoned her children to do so.
I certainly didn’t anticipate her reaction.
She basically told me that women should put their dreams on hold once they have children and only resume them one the children are grown. And that if a woman has dreams that she’d like to fulfill and isn’t willing to do so, well then maybe she shouldn’t have kids.
OK, I’m assuming that she just has the best interest of her grandchildren in mind and is worried that I may be tempted to ditch the stresses of motherhood to embark on some rock-star dream (because the Ricki character just made it seem so glamorous – not), but the conversation really bothered me. Should a mother really cease being a person with goals she’d like to accomplish because she has kids?
I was still stewing about this a few days later – don’t moms of young kids already experience enough guilt about not doing everything right?! – when I took my dog for a walk. This gave me some interrupted time to really focus on this issue. What if you have dreams that may not be entirely realistic? Is there an expiration date on being permitted to try? Back before I had kids, I was writing songs and performing them in open mics. Why did I stop? Did I miss my opportunity?
By the time I got home, I had the first few lines to my next song:
“Do you still follow your dreams when they’re torn at the seams
If they’re falling apart and breaking your heart?”
During the next couple of weeks, I continued working on it in the car, at home, during my morning commute, whenever I had the opportunity. I made lots of revisions to the lyrics throughout the process and by the end of the song, I realized that during this process, I ended up answering my initial question.
The thought process examined the fear of trying something new with unknown results, uncertainty whether if you’re even qualified to do it, the realization that efforts may result in nothing (“Books on the shelf, words never read”) and that many have attempted similar goals without success (“Valiant attempts, stranded and worn, aiming for glory, a fantasy mourned.”) But on the other hand, people who were successful in reaching their goals also didn’t know what the outcome would be when they started and if they never took the first step, they wouldn’t have reached their goals. (“All that we have was once someone’s dream, they took a first step, they had to believe.”) And that ultimately, you are here for a purpose and you have to follow what is pulling you because that could very well be your purpose.
Here’s how it turned out (as with the previous songs, this is a rough version that I hope someday I can record professionally):