Monday, June 18, 2012

A Dream Deferred

     Langston Hughes poetically posed the question, "What happens to a dream deferred?"  I fear I may well end up being the living answer to his query.  I have searched the scriptural cannon of the LDS church, which I belong to, for some hint of a belief in reincarnation.  It's not there.  It's too bad, because I know exactly what I would do in my next life.  I would be an interior designer.  I love to beautify spaces.  I have a passion for making things both beautiful and livable.   As proof of this, I have been able to turn our 1959 home, which was an eye sore (to put it mildly) when we moved in, into a charming, cottage chic sanctuary, on a shoe string budget.......actually more like an invisible budget.  Over half of our furniture was given to us, some as wedding gifts, some, like our nearly antique bedroom set, that have been handed down.  Most of what we have bought new has come from the "ding and dent" tent outside of local furniture stores.  Many of the pictures hanging on the walls have also been gifts.  Yet, with a mishmash of hand-me-downs, wedding gifts, and $30 Walmart bookcases, I feel I have been able to turn this old house into a home.  It may not make the cover of the upcoming issue of Elle Decor, but it is a vast improvement over what it was when Dirk and I moved in six years ago.  On a daily basis, I visualize complete room makeovers and drool over photos of homes and showrooms in the three interior design magazines I subscribe to.  One year I spent all of my birthday money on throw pillows, and this fall, I fully plan on saving my piano money for months in order to buy a more appealing screen door and paint for the front door.  At heart, I am an interior designer.  The problem is, there is no proof.  At least, not the type of proof that matters to anyone in the outside world.  I have no degree, no experience, no showroom, no portfolio.  Why should this matter, you may ask?  I have been pondering just the same question recently.  And I think I may have come to a (long winded, probably overly sentimental) conclusion.  I am a stay at home mom.  I never earned a college degree.  I was in the middle of pursuing a rather pointless degree in English, when Morgan came into my life.  I spend my days making peanut butter sandwiches, cleaning bodily substances off of multiple surfaces and chasing a baby who is on a mission to destroy everything I own.  Some days I don't leave the house at all.  Many days I don't shower or make it out of my pajamas.  I find great fulfillment in motherhood, and  I realize, as I have previously blogged, that all of these small, seemingly insignificant acts, are building a structured and loving foundation for my children.  I have never regretted my decision to stay at home and raise and nurture my children.  But some days I wonder, "what am I contributing to the world at large."  A mother's work is invisible to the outside world.  Day after day we exhaust all of our physical and emotional energy with no apparent result.  So..........why should this matter???  I sincerely hope I am not the only stay at home mother to have felt this way.  It is an admittedly selfish feeling, but I will tell the truth in the hopes that someone out there can relate:  Sometimes I want to feel important.  Is this horrible?  Sometimes I want to be noticed.  I want someone to see something that I have made or accomplished and be impressed, perhaps even amazed.  I want someone to ask me for advice, because I just happen to be the expert on the very subject they are curious about.  I have not yet had one person inquire as to how to build the world's best PBJ, which topic I am the leading authority on, I will have you know.  Just in case anyone was wondering, here is the run down on how to build a better PBJ:  Grandma Sycamore's Homemade white bread (tastes homemade without the effort), a generous amount of peanut butter on both slices of bread, and seedless strawberry jam.  For best results, wash it down with a tall glass of cold milk.  I have now imparted priceless wisdom to all ten of you who faithfully read my blog.  This is not the kind of advice people generally seek.  My sister is an attorney and has been able to help family members with many legal matters already.  She is also my complete opposite in her abilities with all things technological.  She's a tech wizard, and either she or my dad are consulted for help in such matters.  I am proud of my sister.  I look up to her, but sometimes it is hard to keep from feeling like I will forever be her shadow.  My parents not only love her; they respect her opinions.  They recently started shopping at the same supermarket she shops at.  On some weird level , this stung.  If there is one thing I know how to do, it's shop.  I can stretch a budget like the Hulk would stretch a baby onsie if he tried to put it on.  Yet, I was never consulted about the best place to shop for groceries.  I know this is petty, and I know my parents are proud of me.  But sometimes I wonder what reason they have to actually be proud of me.  I have had three kids......I think it has been proven enough times throughout history that almost any idiot can bear children.  The fact that I have offspring in and of itself does not seem like much of an accomplishment.  To put it in perspective; Jessica Simpson and Brittany Spears are also mothers.  To make matters worse, there are days when I feel like I am utterly failing at being a good mother.  Granted, I have never driven with my two year old on my lap, as did one of the afore mentioned pop princesses (now if you don't know which one it was, you can break for a fun little google search), but there are days when I wonder if all of the work I put in is completely in vain.  Sometimes it would be nice to have a fall back, something else that I was really good at.  Then, on days when my children are possessed by pod people, my family and friends could think, "Shannon's kids are acting like that annoying red headed kid from the movie Problem Child.  She has no idea what she's doing as a mother, but man can that girl design a room!"
     So, by now perhaps you are thinking, "why is this chick going on a seemingly endless rant about her missed opportunities?  Why doesn't she just go out and get an interior design degree?"  It's never too late.  That's what they say, right?  The answer is, I'm not really sure.  Obviously time and money are both major issues in this equation.  But maybe there is a part of me that's afraid.  Maybe I am using the excuse of being too busy with my full time job as a mother as a safety net.  Maybe I'm afraid if I actually abandoned all reason and went after my dream, I wouldn't be as good at it as I had imagined.  Maybe I would fall flat on my face.  In truth, my children have become my new dream.  All of my time and energy  (not to mention financial resources) are now geared toward helping them realize their dreams and goals.  And that is just the way it should be.  I know that becoming a mother means sacrificing some of the things you might have had or done had you chosen another path.  I'm ok with that.  But I can't help wondering sometimes if I am being a big fat hypocrite.  I can't count the number of times I have told my children that they can grow up to do and to become anything they choose if they work hard enough.  I encourage them constantly to find their dream and to pursue it passionately.  I tell them all of this as I stand behind the kitchen counter making another monumental, life altering PBJ.

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
and then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

-Langston Hughes