I grew up in the 1980’s believing in the old American Dream.
The dream that put a turkey on the Thanksgiving table.
The dream that included a pretty young mom, in a red white and blue apron, a smiling daddy with a baby on his knee, and about a half a dozen kids asking for more pumpkin pie.
The dream was all about finding the love of my life, winning his heart, falling in love, marrying young and raising a house full of kids.
I wanted to be a mommy, and maybe an artist too.
The idea of having my own home and being the mommy was almost magical to me. When I was fourteen I had my life all planned out. I wanted to have seven beautiful daughters, and I would sew their dresses. They would be like princesses or characters from a Jane Austin novel. I would have a huge Victorian House filled with treasures from all over the world. Treasures I would collect on my adventures. Each room in the house would represent a different country in the world… an Egyptian room, a Russian room, an Italian room and an Irish room. From childhood I was concerned about orphans, so perhaps I would have children from all over the world, and they could have rooms decorated with art from their homelands. I would have an adventurous husband who would show me the world, make enough money to support my dreams, and have lots of free time to spend with me. If he couldn't make enough money, I would be a famous artist or writer, as long as I didn't have to go to work and have a boss, I would help out with the money problem. That was my dream, and it sounded good to me.
Later on in my teens I started reading magazines that explained the NEW American Dream to the young women like me who flipped through the pages. As I curiously studied every page I began to struggle with two drastically different concepts what it means to be a woman. As I flipped through the pages of the magazines I saw image after image of women in heels. I read stories about a new path for women and girls, it was all about being independent, smart and sexy. It was about living for myself, about marrying a career instead of a man. It was about growing old alone, with lipstick on of course, and having a lot of boyfriends, just for fun. It didn't sound fun or romantic to me. It was about finding happiness without being tied down to one man, but my dreams were all about finding that one man, and never even holding another guy's hand. Kind of old fashion and naive, I know, but it was my dream.
The pages spoke of being a woman with a mission, as long as that mission didn't include motherhood. The message was loud and clear that having kids and a husband was like wearing a ball and chain. I was sixteen and trying to figure out the path I wanted to take to reach my dreams, and I knew that I wouldn't be comfortable walking down that path in high heels. I tossed that stack magazines in the trash, and said my first “no” to the New American Dream. I wanted a life of beauty, adventure and purpose, but I would rather have a husband and children than the independent and glamorous lifestyle I read about. The old fashion idea of wearing a red, white and blue apron and having half a dozen kids around the Thanksgiving still sounded better to me.
Fast-forward twenty years, to where I am today. I have an adventurous husband who shares my dream, and I share his. I have nine beautiful children, seven are daughters. We have a home centered life in a foreign country where our family works with orphans. Life isn't easy, but it's rich and full! I didn't have to dump my dreams of being a wife and mother and put on heels to live a life of purpose and fulfillment. There were I may have looked a little more like the image I chose to toss out of my mind as a teen.
There were even seasons in life where I put on a suit, won elections and held the title Vice President of a Town Council and Delegate to the State of Indiana. I've been called a civic leader, I've also been a news paper journalist and reporter. I've had make hard choices to leave those things behind at times to keep my family first. I chose not to go to college when I decided the career path wasn't for me, but I've taught classes for a university. Most of all I have been a mommy and have produced over 2000 gallons of milk for my nursing babies. I've spent a over a decade at home with babies and toddlers while my husband worked late into the nights to support a growing family. I've enjoyed adventures, lived many of my dreams and I've crossed the ocean more times than I can count, with children tagging along. All this without ever putting on the heels, and without giving us the dream of family and a vibrant home life. And yes, I found that one man, and never kissed another... sometime the best dreams so come true!