When I was ten and having a hard time sleeping at night, sometimes I would tell myself stories. I remember laying underneath the eave of my parents’ redone attic in my new, big-girl bedroom dreaming with my eyes wide open.
I’d create the most fantastic fairy tales of myself as a grown woman, married and dancing around a kitchen with some tall, handsome stranger, and there would always be three kids running in a field somewhere wearing all white.
I don’t know why I had those images stuck in my head or even how detailed my imaginings were. Afterall, this was a long time ago, but I know that I definitely told myself this story many, many nights.
Now, as a 41-year-old wife and mother of three, I wonder if I dreamed my current life into reality. How did I know this would happen? Did I have a premonition of my tall, handsome husband as a ten-year-old child? Did I see my own children’s faces in my nighttime imaginings before I dropped off to sleep?
What makes me think I had only a foggy outline is the fact that I never saw their hair color. My husband in my dream had dark, straight hair and in real life he has red, curly waves. And it’s the same with our children — they were all toe-heads in my ten-year-old mind, and in reality, two have dirty blonde hair and the third is a brunette.
But that’s it. Every other aspect of my fairytale ending has come true.
My husband and I dance around our kitchen often. Our children walk, jog, and ride their bikes through the blueberry fields surrounding our home nestled out in the country with nothing but fields around it.
Honestly, there isn’t a day that passes when I don’t pinch myself to see if my ‘‘happily-ever-after’’ is in fact really happening.
It really is. I’m really living the vision I saw in my head, and I thank God everyday that somehow I haven’t messed it up yet.
This is not to say it isn’t hard. This is not to say life is without challenges, heartaches, or disappointment because, yes, there’s all of that and then some. But what I’m learning with each new day is something so simple.
We have the ability inside ourselves to create our own happiness.
I’m so glad I dreamed big, wished big, and loved big. I’m so grateful my parents showed me what happily-ever-after looked like: two people content to share everyday moments with each other. I’m so relieved my friends held similar hopes and made me feel like I wasn’t simple or small-minded to want a husband and a family as much as I wanted to do big things.
Beyond all of this, I feel an odd sort of duty to share this idea with children — you can know what you want for yourself when you’re young. You can see some version of happiness in your mind and will it into being with your life choices.
You can make your dreams come true if you’re willing to work and wait for them.
This is what I want my children at home and at school to understand. Life is about seeing what you want clearly and then believing you can achieve it — not that you’re entitled to it or that you can somehow be lucky enough for it to happen to you.
You and only you can make your dream a reality.
You are the writer of your life story. You may not get to decide how it starts, but you do get to decide what you do with it, who you choose to become, and how you spend the time you’re given.
As Steve Carell says in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, and Very Bad Day and I often repeat to my children, “You are the captain of your own ship. Steer it with positivity.”
Sure, there are some days that are just bad and there’s no fixing them. But there are others that are within our wheelhouse to change, and we can.
This year, 2020, promises to be like no other year in history. There’s so much uncertainty that lies before us and so much heartache, sickness, and death around us. Now more than ever it’s so important to teach our children the awesome power of their dreams.
They need to know that no matter what hardships, changes, and disappointments they endure, this is the time to create big dreams. This is the time to tell yourself beautiful stories before you fall asleep and to believe that they can come true.
Now is the time to be the writer of your life, so write something awesome. Write something fantastical. Write what’s in your heart and make it come true.