Last year I fulfilled a dream. I became a published author of a children’s book, My Milk Will Go, Our Love Will Grow: A Book for Weaning. We often hear that when we have children, we will lose a part of ourselves. We hear that our personal and professional dreams will be put on hold, or will end. While there is some truth to these statements, sometimes, motherhood can inspire us to create and fulfill new dreams, and help us to find a part of ourselves.
Because parenting changes us, we become people who think, feel and love differently. These changes affect our priorities and our lifestyle, and therefore impact our dreams. After having my first baby and becoming a stay-at-home mom, my former career goals and interests changed. I developed a desire to do something new and creative while parenting but didn’t know what to do with that desire.
In 2016, while nursing my second baby, I found myself reflecting about my breastfeeding and weaning journey with my first born. I pulled up the notes app on my iPhone and felt compelled to write. I wrote rhymes inspired by my thoughts and emotions about love and breastfeeding. The rhymes evolved into a poetic conversation between mother and toddler about how emotional needs will continue to be met, and how love and nurturing will always continue when breastfeeding ends. Excited that I had found a creative way to combine my professional experience as a social worker with my parenting experience, I felt inspired to begin the first of many steps to becoming a published author. My Milk Will Go, Our Love Will Grow, was officially released in January of 2020.
Finding and Fulfilling Dreams While Parenting:
Do you wish to find or follow a new dream while parenting? It is OK if you don’t! The timing must feel right. But if you do, consider these tips I created while looking back at my experience:
- Remember what you loved as a child! When I was a child, I loved to write poems for fun and make up songs that rhyme. Who knew that this childhood hobby could lead into writing a book?
- Consider your strengths- we all have strengths! My strengths include creativity, nurturing my children, and my child development training and experience as a clinical social worker. My children’s book is a product of all of these strengths.
- Tap into your feelings about the joys and challenges of motherhood.
- Think about whether or not your dream excites you. When I explored the idea of becoming an author, I felt excited and motivated.
- Take time to research. Some dreams will require you to go through many steps and learn new skills. Approaching one at a time helps when you feel overwhelmed.
- If you discover that one path to pursuing your dream is not possible, explore the possibility of other paths.
- Ask yourself how you would feel if you decided not to pursue your dream. Finding and fulfilling dreams can sound overwhelming. When I was unsure due to fears and risks, I asked myself this question and knew I could not say no to trying.
- Assuming your dream is realistic, don’t let negativity or rejection end your dream.
- Getting feedback from trusted and knowledgeable people is wonderful, but remember that not everyone shares your vision, knowledge, determination, etc.
- Get creative when finding time to work toward your dream. I wrote the first draft of my book (from my phone) while nursing a baby and holding him during naps. I had to work on publishing my book late at night after my kids were asleep. Occasionally, I had to hire a babysitter for help.
- Set realistic expectations about your timeline. I wrote my book in 2016 but it took me over three years to publish it due to having children and other life events! I took many breaks and lost motivation at times, but always came back to it.
Love for our children can inspire us to do beautiful things. Women have become writers, bloggers, small business owners, authors, etc. while parenting. Most importantly, women became mothers. We should not feel pressured to come up with a new dream. Your biggest dream and desire right now might be parenting-it was my biggest dream for years (and will always be the most important and rewarding to me). But, if you eventually feel an urge to follow a new dream like I did, you may find that motherhood can lead you in the right direction.
Jessica Elder is the author of My Milk Will Go, Our Love Will Grow: A Book for Weaning, illustrated by Sheila Fein. It is now available to purchase online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target and Walmart. Jessica is the mother of three children and is expecting one more. You can learn more about her and her book by visiting www.jessicaelder.com and by following her on Facebook and Instagram @jessicaelderauthor.