Monday, August 25, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Babes!

Out of the mouths of babes! It's funny how your kids can melt your heart and break your heart all in a mater of moments.
Sunday night, after returning from a weekend at the lake with friends, I wasn’t feeling very productive. Once I put away our clothes and other items, and showered both children, I took my place on the couch and found a live stream of Justin Timberlake’s Iceland concert and watched it on my phone. A short time later, I had both kids sitting beside me, squeezing in to watch, too.

My five year old has mentioned a few times recently that, when he grows up, he wants to be a singer. So as he sat watching I told him, "If you really want to be a singer, and if you want to sing pop music, you should pay attention to Justin Timberlake." Because not only is he an amazing talent and an amazing performer, but, I believe, he’s truly a genuine, good guy -- something I think is few and far between with mainstream entertainers these days.

He sat and watched for a few seconds, then asked me if I could teach him how to sing, which made me smile. But a few seconds later, he broke my heart. He sat up, looked all serious at me, and said, “So you grew up to be…nothing?” 

Oh. My. Gosh. My sweet little boy is calling me out, and breaking my heart. 

As I stared at his once sweet little face, my wonderful daughter piped up almost immediately in my defense. “She’s not nothing! She works. She sits, and types, and prints…” 

Quiet dear, you’re not helping here.

Now I get that he’s just five, and he pretty much doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And it probably wouldn’t have hit so hard if it’s not something I have thought about myself. Growing up, from about the age of 6 until I was about 30 and reality sat in, I too had dreamed of being a singer. It wasn't just a dream, I KNEW it was going to happen because I wanted it so much. I mean, I would write songs, I bought a keyboard and a drum machine, I would practice constantly by “performing” shows to no one in my living room, or the backyard, or the porch, I sang in school..and that's all it takes, right? 

Oh sure, maybe I could have actually performed for people, really learned to actually play the keyboard and drum machine, and the guitar I eventually got as a gift. (*Side Note: I may not have learned how to create my own songs on that drum machine, but I did learn to copy others songs! To this day, if you hook it up, I'll bet you it will still play along with Debbie Gibson’s “Shake Your Love” or The Party’s “Free”!!) I could have tried to be heard by anyone and everyone that would listen. Instead, apparently, I assumed people would just be able to tell that I had what it took and that it’s what I wanted to do and sign me up! I even moved to St. Paul, Minnesota where my dad lived, because at the time I was such a huge fan of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, that I just knew I’d go up there and be discovered.  Um…yeah. That didn’t happen.

Instead I moved back home to Lincoln, got a job in retail, fell in love, got married, moved to Kansas City, had kids, and the rest is history.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that my life hasn’t turned out pretty great, and I do believe I’m where God meant for me to be. As it turns out, I don’t really have the greatest voice or the looks to be a singer, and without at least one of those, your chances are slim.

The reason what he said broke my heart was that he’s kind of right. No, I didn’t grow up to be nothing, but have I truly followed my passion?

Over the years my dreams have changed. Once I finally decided to give up on the singing career, I found a new passion in the form of writing. Specifically, writing about NASCAR, and I had dreams of working in public relations for a driver or team. I started writing for a NASCAR website and got some amazing opportunities – from getting track credentials and working in the media center covering the races, to interviewing drivers both on the phone and in person at the track. I really loved it, and I thought I was pretty good at it. I even pursued some side writing gigs, but eventually I realized that the work involved – having to start from the ground up and fighting those with the degrees, connections, etc. – was just going to be too difficult. So I “gave up” this dream for a new one – the dream of being a mom.

Really, I just gave up out of fear of rejection and struggle, and while I really did want to start having a family, being a mom was just an excuse.

After the kids, I discovered a few other passions. Things that I became interested in, but just never got off the ground. There was the cupcake shop I wanted to open (before I realized the whole world had the same idea), the party planning company I wanted to start, and the endless online searching for inspiration of what I was supposed to be doing with my life.

Then I bought a “fancy” camera to better capture my kids as they grew up, and that changed everything! I started dreaming about being a photographer and started trying to soak up all the education I could. Of course, suddenly it seemed that everywhere I turned, people were buying cameras and calling themselves photographers, and I realized this was going to be harder than I thought. I started trying to figure out my niche, and discovered that while I enjoyed the idea of taking pictures of families and kids, what really got me excited was food and lifestyle photography. But about the time I started getting really excited about it, my daughter started having some problems at school with concentration and productivity, and I kind of put it all aside.

But now that things are better, maybe this innocent little comment from my sweet little five year old is just wanted I needed to kick myself in the butt and move forward in pursuing what could be my true calling. I want to be a photographer, but I also really, really want to write. What I need to do now is more of both, and figure out how to combine them in a way that is soul fulfilling and financially supportive. 

I am constantly telling my kids they need to follow their dreams, dream big, go for it! But am I practicing what I preach? Do I want to be the kind of mom where, years from now, my kids say I did “nothing”? Or do I want to be the kind of mom my kids can look at as an example of how you can do and be anything, if you just work for it and never give up?

I'll choose the latter, thank you.