A Simple Look at a Not-So-Simple Life

Dream Big

Anna, my 13-year-old, was out of school today. My family continues to share the ‘love’ with one another as we pass a virus around. By this afternoon she was feeling a little better. She logged onto the computer and quickly became engaged in what has become one of her favorite pastimes – looking at houses and house plans.

I’m not sure if she is dreaming of her own future or if she is trying to find a way for us to have a place of our own. We live in the church manse. For that, I am very grateful. I do not have to cut my grass. I don’t have to pay house insurance. If something breaks, it gets fixed. The best part of that is, I don’t have to pay the repairman. As a single mom, I know a good deal when I see one.

However, our house is fairly old. The bedrooms are quite small. The bathrooms are really, really small and, shall we say, out of date. There is NO storage space. Between me, my 3 children, the dog, and the 2 cats, it’s hard to find a quiet space just to be. And it’s not ours. Therefore, we can’t do all that much to it to make it more appealing. The church might go along with some projects, but we really don’t have the money to spare so I don’t even ask.

And so today Anna was looking at houses again while I struggled to get boxes up into our small attic in an effort to get some of our junk out of the way.

“Holy cow!”

She found a doozie. It is a million dollar home that will be given away to some lucky winner. Furnished. With an SUV in the garage. With a pool house that is large enough to make our house look like a dog house. Holy cow, indeed.

She kept calling me to look at pictures of the kitchen, or the master bedroom, or the gigantic deck, or the pool. I was still hauling boxes and wasn’t too thrilled with the interruptions. My sitter would be calling any minute to tell me that the babies were awake from their nap and that I could come pick them up. I wanted to finish in the attic before that call came.

“Don’t you like it?” she asked as I brushed her off with a quick glance at the latest picture.

“Yeah. I guess so. It’s just so big. I don’t think I can even dream that big.” I started up the ladder with yet another box.

“That’s sad,” she said quietly. “I don’t have any trouble dreaming big.”

I stopped right where I was – about halfway up the narrow ladder with an unwieldy box of clothes that probably need to go to Goodwill perched on my shoulder. She is right. It is sad. When did I forget how to dream big?

I know that I can do it. Look at me now, for Pete’s sake. I started seminary as a separated young mother with a 5-month-old baby and a big dream that I could actually earn an M.Div. I traveled to Guatemala not once, but twice last year to claim two new children. I can dream big, about certain parts of my life anyway.

So why can’t I dream big about other things – like houses, or relationships, or big vacations? It is so easy for me to say, “I’ll never be able to afford a nice house of my own” or “God may be capable of creating a man that would embrace my family and my profession, but I don’t think God had created him yet” or “I don’t know how I could possibly pull off a long trip to (fill in the blank) with the babies.” Sometimes being practical sucks.

Or am I really being practical? Maybe I’m just scared. Maybe I’m afraid of trying to take on all that goes along with owning a home on my own. And maybe I’m still on my own because I won’t give anyone a real chance out of fear that I will get hurt again. And maybe I’m afraid of long trips with the kids because of all the “what ifs.” (What if we have car trouble? What if one of them gets sick? What if I get sick? etc., etc. )

I need to learn to dream big again.

I remember years ago when I was still teaching school a small poster that I hung in my classroom. It was a drawing of Garfield, asleep with a smile on his face. In the dream bubble above his head was the image of a lion. The caption read, “Dream big.”

I wonder what the dream bubbles above my head would look like if I could just free myself to dream big? I think that maybe I should try to find out.

Blessings – and big dreams!

Preacher Mom


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6 thoughts on “Dream Big

  1. I can empathize with your daughter – I grew up almost exclusively in church-owned homes. When I got my own house, the first thing I did was to paint. No more Baptist-Beige as my mother always called it. Fire-engine red, deep dark blue and By-God-Purple were the colors I started with. Encourage your daughter’s big dreams, but don’t feel guilty for how you are raising your kids. You are helping them to be adaptable and to find the truth about home – the building doesn’t matter, only the people.

  2. Great post, and great comment Rach! I didn’t know you were a preacher’s kid!

  3. I remember going through this stage when I was 13 years old. It was a time of me defining myself as a person. I loved house plans and designing my own houses. Dreaming about each space and what I would do with it. Sometimes it would be just me and sometimes my family would live in the house with me. I wonder as an adult, if it has something to do with how Jung talks about the “person” as a “house” — in most dreams, a house is an analogy of “self.” Just something to think about.

  4. Thanks for reminding me about the Jungian “house” symbolism. I hadn’t even thought about that. Since we’ve touched on CPE here before, you would appreciate that right before I began the program I dreamed that I
    was in a house made of windows and that there were “people” out there trying to get me and I could not hide!!! How appropriate!

  5. You know, I still love houses on line. I live in an apartment and don’t think home ownership will ever be in my future. The lack of home ownership is a result of other financial choices I made to pursue other dreams….but still I dream. I think the difference between kid big dreams and adult big dreams is that kids don’t have to choose from amongst them. (My niece is going to be a lawyer Monday through Friday and a model on the weekends, except for Sunday mornings when she’s going to be the signer for church). We have to choose.

    The house may be the self, or it may be a house, but in any case, I hope she never stops the dreaming–and maybe lets mom do the same.

  6. It’s hard to have any dreams when you are in that sleep-deprived, mother of toddler(s) state. 🙂
    Dreams will come again, those deliciously, scarily big dreams that juice you up and get you moving who knows where.
    And I do think reverend mommy is onto something with the Jungian reference. At 13, self is all about image. There is a sorting out of “who I am” that necessarily includes the package, or the house.

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