In the early 2000's, I was getting close to finishing my Bachelor's degree, I was looking at graduate schools. I wanted a PhD (I even know what my dissertation would be on). I had miscarried nearly a year before, and all evidence seemed to suggest it would be a while before I had the chance to carry again. I started my last fall semester, taking a pretty intense course load, and found out I was pregnant.
We had a scare again when I was involved in a car accident, but the ultrasound after confirmed what my previous pregnancy never did - a heartbeat.
There are a few times in my life when such relief has washed over me, and as such brought me to tears.
Six weeks before I finished my Bachelor's degree, I held my 8 lbs 13 oz son in my arms and whatever love I previously thought was maxed out amplified by at least ten. Maybe a hundred.
I still considered graduate school, but my husband was chasing some dreams of his, and my son was less than pleasant from the hours of 10 pm and 3 am and it all became too much. So I put ideas of graduate school on the back burner.
Two years later, a gorgeous redheaded girl came into our lives, weighing exactly as much as her brother. She had some scary complications for the first little bit (her first APGAR was a two for heartbeat only), but she overcame them quickly and I was the mother of a toddler and an infant.
Two years after that, when I was six months pregnant with my third, I enrolled back in school, not to get the degree or work on the dissertation, but to follow the promptings of a higher power that it was important I get the necessary education to teach high school English. Three months later, the youngest joined our family twelve days before she was due and weighing exactly two pounds less.
The burner on which I placed my PhD kept moving back as the burners of life increased. Soon, my metaphorical stove was so big that keeping everything from burning, or not cooking at all, became obviously unfeasible.
Recently, I learned that what I thought was my plan for the future isn't - at least not the way I envisioned it. I have a Master's, but it isn't one that will let me get into the program I want. For that to happen, I'd have to get another Master's. Then a PhD.
So two weeks ago, I took a grand look at what was in store for me, and I realized, at the bare minimum, I'm at least fifteen years off from chasing that dream. I could probably pursue it now, but when I go home, I see three dreams that need help with homework, that are pursuing some awesome goals of their own, three dreams that I prayed for and that make me happy every day.
The funny thing about dreams is we rarely discuss the situation when two dreams are conflicting. When we have to look at two great ideas and have to decide. Not everyone is going to make the same choice I did, but I choose my kids, my family.
I may never get that PhD. It is something I've had to admit to myself, something I'm working on internalizing. But chasing the dream of publication can coincide with helping my children chase their dreams, and when I'm being really honest with myself, I truly can't think of a better way to chase a dream than with my family.
When have you had to make a choice between two great dreams? Which way did you go? What are your plans for the other?