Dreams, Big and Little

My youngest child has had an intestinal illness that’s lasted for several days now. It’s involved a lot of upkeep and maintenance and attention, including lots of clothes and diaper changes and baths and sessions spent in the rocking chair, gently rocking back and forth.

One of the best parts of my own childhood was the constant understanding that my mother would be there for me if I were ill. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I’d be at home in a comfortable place and that I’d feel safe.

When I had my first child, it became clear to me that I couldn’t offer such a guarantee of security to my children, not with the career I once had. It bothered me a lot. I know that there are a lot of working parents who simply can’t offer such a thing, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t bother an awful lot of them.

It pushed me to start making some radical changes in my life in terms of how I spent my time and how I spent my money. I started looking for paths to a new career, not because I disliked my old job (I didn’t) and not because I wanted to earn a mint, but because I wanted to have the ability to be there during these moments.

It was that sentiment that led, in a lot of ways, to The Simple Dollar.

In the scope of things, it was a little dream. The idea of finding a different way to balance my desire to be a heavily available parent and my need to be gainfully employed is a simple one. It’s not a big dream of founding a world-shaking startup. It’s not a grand vision of becoming the next senator from Iowa.

It’s a little dream, but it’s one that I wanted so badly that I could taste it.

No matter how big or how little your dream, you’ll never get there without trying a new approach at the way you run your life. If you keep doing things exactly like you’re doing them, your dream will always remain a dream. It never has any chance to become reality.

If you’re content with the way your life is right now, then keep down that path. If you want something different, you’re going to have to do something different.

Instead of spending your money on frivolous things, put some of that money toward getting rid of your debts. Instead of burning an evening watching Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, start learning a new skill. Instead of watching football all day on Sunday, spend the day building something meaningful.

Your dream might be big or it might be little. Either way, it’s not going to happen unless you choose to start making it happen.

This past week, I spent a lot of time with my son. I could tell by how he acted that he felt safe and protected as he recovered from being ill. There was never any question of leaving him with someone who would watch him, relegating a little kid who doesn’t feel well to an unfamiliar situation.

I was able to give him some semblance of the security I once had. That, to me, is worth any price. It was one of my dreams from the first time the idea of having children entered my mind.

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