On Dreaming Big

There’s a woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo standing there.  In her lovely, colorful dress she stands in the middle of some, by our standards, humble dwellings.  The photographer Brandon asks her, “What’s your biggest dream?”

The woman, almost smiling as the camera clicks, replies, “To be the mother of a doctor, the mother of a minister, the mother of an engineer.”

Wow.  So there’s this amazing thing (I am not sure what else to call it) called “Humans of New York.” The photographer usually posts several photos and quotes from people throughout the day.  Right now he is on a UN World Tour, and the journey has been so beautiful and broken, I have cried or laughed at each post–and sometimes I’ve done both.  People are people all over, you know?  We are all made of the same stuff, and our hearts all break and fall and love– sometimes over the same things, sometimes different.  I follow the page on Facebook, but I guess it is based on a “Tumblr” account–something I’ve not ventured into.  I first read the woman’s story above on Facebook, and her answer touched me.  You can see her picture here.   She is beautiful and graceful and regal as she stands there, isn’t she?

And in her answer too, in my opinion.

But not everyone agreed.

I remember someone commented, “Shouldn’t her children have a say in this?”  “Why is she setting such high goals for them?  She should be happy whatever they want to do.”  And so on.

Oh me.

As a Mama, I get it.  I dream big for my children.  My Daddy once told me that each generation wants their children to have it a little better than the one before them did.  Maybe that’s it.  I want them to dream big, and I want to be right there encouraging and empowering and cheering them through to the finish line, until they figure out what the next big thing is, and off we go again.  I want them to be satisfied with where they are but never quite comfortable enough to stay there.  (Not necessarily geographically speaking, y’all. Staying put is fine, not moving is not.  There is a difference.)

I think that DROC Mama wants something better for her children too.  I think maybe something might have been lost in the translation since some folks seemed to read it another way, but looking at that picture, my heart heard what I think she is saying.  Her biggest dream is that her children will choose a path that could take them far away from the worry and strife and poverty for their own families–a path that will not only allow them to take care of themselves, but also to care for others.

Sitting here now thinking about it, I think her biggest dream is symbolic of her hope–the careers she spoke of for her children take care of the body, the soul, and their future.  All of which can give her hope that things will be better for them and for those who follow.  She wants her children to make a difference in this world, and she thought of three paths that will do just that if done with caring and compassion.

Both of which I’m hedging my bets she’s teaching them.

I’m sad that she was judged so quickly and harshly by folks here in our society–one in which the education and paths to all three of those choices are a little easier, I expect, than in the community this woman is living.  She is choosing strength and a foundation of caring for her children.

And her biggest dream is about them carrying on and making a difference.

That.  Right.  There.

Beautiful.

Her biggest dream wasn’t winning the lottery, if they even have one.  It wasn’t about owning a mansion or driving a fancy car.  It wasn’t about writing the next great highly-acclaimed novel.  It wasn’t even about having enough food on the table or clean water to drink.

She is a dreamer.  And her dream is about those she was given to love and to raise.  And it was a gift from her to them–a gift of hope blooming and them making this world a better place.

I don’t even know.

I don’t know what my own answer would be if asked that question.  I have so much.  So.  Very.  Much.

Dream?  My biggest dream?

That the world be a little less broken and that me and mine can be a part of getting it there?

Maybe?

Tonight I’m thankful for folks like Brandon at HONY who are changing our world, bringing us all a little closer together one photograph and shared story at a time.  And I’m especially grateful to my sister half a world away who taught me a big something about what matters and what real dreams and caring look like in this world.  Bless her.

Love to all.

 

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As I sat here writing tonight, this song kept going through my head.  I was a huge fan of David Cook’s as he competed in American Idol, and I LOVED this song he sang in the finale.  I guess that’s why I keep hearing “If you don’t dream big, what’s the use of dreaming?” over and over.  That and “Go big or go home.” 

Here’s the lyrics to the song with vocals by David Cook.  (The other videos had the judges’ stuff after and who needs that–we already know he WON, he’s just that fabulous.  And he’s a dreamer too…..)  Hope y’all enjoy. 

The Sisterhood of Mamas

She rose up from that bed a mother, and ready to fight for the rest of her days.  What does it matter for a woman to give up her self, and live quietly, with the choices she has made?  But when the woman becomes a mother, she can no longer participate in the slow rot.  Because no one’s going to rot the child.  And anyone who tries will suffer the mother’s consequences.” –Lydia Netzer, shine shine shine

 

There is a sisterhood of these women, the ones who rise up from their delivery beds or from the desk where papers were signed, a newly created soul, that of Mama. Fierce and protective and loving and tender. We see each other and nod.  We each make our own choices for these who have been entrusted to us.  But there is a camaraderie that cannot be broken. We need each other.  This came to life for me in the midst of a miserably hot and humid Sunday afternoon.  When my little guy vomited in public.

Cooter was dehydrated, I’m convinced.  We were at the MouseHouse and it had been a busy day, most of it out in the hot, hot sun.  Waiting in line for cool, long-anticipated autographs, standing as the sun beat down on us watching a parade, and walking from one attraction to the other.  Hot.

It was our first day there, so we hadn’t gotten the routine of pouring water down our throats–constantly–down yet.  I had my little guy drinking but I think it was too late.  He was wilting like a petunia in the full sunlight.  Right before my eyes.  I bought a cold drink, and we sat down in the shade.

The Fella took a baby wipe and got it really wet so I could rub Cooter’s neck and forehead with it.  He liked that, but he was still miserable.  He was barely sipping anything.  One Mama with her child looked over and gave me the “I understand” look and told her child they would move to give us more space, since he didn’t feel good.

After getting him to suck on some ice and sip some water, Cooter seemed to be a little better.  We got him to stand up, but no, he wanted to be held.  His Daddy picked him up.  He just melted in the Fella’s arms.

Rather suddenly he scrambled to get down.  The instant his feet hit the ground he was throwing up.  And it wasn’t quiet.  At all.

Oh my.  Bless him.

After I got him settled back down as comfortably as I could with ice and a cool cloth, I set to work using the last of my baby wipes to clean up the “mess.”  And I noticed that the mama/preteen girl pair that had jumped up when it happened were seated back exactly where they had been before.  Fairly close to the EVENT.

I don’t know why exactly but that comforted me.  That put some normalcy in what had happened–no big deal, happens every day, right?

Well maybe not, but it sure helped my feelings.  I leaned over and said, “I am so sorry.  I think he got too hot.  I apologize for this.”

The Mama looked over and smiled, waving her hand.  “I have children too.  It happens. Don’t worry.  Hope he feels better.”

Well I’ll be.

And that.  That is what I’m talking about.  The grace that comes from this sisterhood of one day anticipating the life you carry within, or the child that waits for you at the end of a long labor of paperwork, and the next day the child is in your arms and from that day on–you are the One.  The Mama.  Mother.  Madre.  Mommy.  Mom.  The one who wipes the bottoms and noses.  Who dries the tears.  Who holds the hands.  And who cleans up the vomit.  The one who finds a clean outfit when an accident happens.  And who says, “It will be okay” and sets out to make it so.  The grace that looks another Mama in the store in the eyes and says, “No, you go ahead–my crew are at home today, but I know what it’s like to have one begging for a toy and the other crying from lack of sleep and a third trying to wander off.  I get it.”  The grace that takes another Mama by the hand and says, “I don’t know where this journey is headed, but I’ll walk with you because someone forgot to give any of us the instruction manual.  We’re all winging it around here.”  The grace that doesn’t hear the whining or the tears or screams nearly as much as the child’s Mama does because hey, what Mama hasn’t had to deal with that out in public?

Grace.  The Sisterhood of Mamas.

Tonight I’m thankful for the kindness of that Mama sitting there, very likely in the–ahem–“splash zone,” who didn’t blink an eye.  I was close to tears but seeing her stay cool and near about nonchalant calmed my spirit and my anxieties.  I will take care of my children.  I will fight.  I will protect.  I will cherish.  I will teach.  I will love.  Forever and always.  Whatever that looks like.  Even if, as in that moment, it means being down on my hands and knees cleaning up “unloveliness” as fast as I can with baby wipes.  And holding my sick baby, trying to get him well the best I know how.  The other Mama, this sister, was a gift to me in that moment; she was my feather.  I think of her, and hope that one day I can pass on that grace and comfort to someone else.

Love to all.  #bethefeather

 

*****Cooter did recuperate just fine.  An hour later he was sitting in air conditioning, drinking some apple juice (thanks to my SIL for suggesting that) and eating his supper.  He even had an ice cream sundae for dessert (yes, I know, I was asking for it).  He bounced back and was fine from then on.  Thankful for that.