What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
I first learned this poem in high school. I was not a fan. The dark imagery that Langston Hughes conjures seemed at odds with the concept of dreams. My 14-year-old self could not imagine those horrible things happening to my dreams. I simply could not relate. Man did I have some dreams. A news anchor, an author, doctor, drive a BMW, and marry Grant Hill were just a few. Of course as I got older, my dreams changed. I changed.
In high school my understanding of the word “deferred” was vague to say the least. At 38 I am very well acquainted with its meaning now. Deferred, is simply…. to postpone. I know that I have deferred a couple of my dreams because life happened. I became a mother and wife. My primary reason for being was simply to nurture and care for my family. As a military spouse during a time of war, which equals multiple deployments, I am the constant of our family, the frame that holds the picture together. I support them in all of their dreams and goals. I am proud of that. I would not change the path that I took. The good, the bad, and the mehhh have all contributed to my growth as an individual.
But what about my dreams? The individual I have become, who exactly is that? Am I simply a wife and mother? Is there not more to me than that?
If you have never read Eat Pray Love
by Elizabeth Gilbert, you need to. The book just celebrated its 10th birthday. It is all about Elizabeth’s journey to find out who she is. She simply follows her heart and ends up traveling the world. It is an amazing book and super inspirational. Now, I am not saying it is time to drop everything and start following hearts across the Pacific Ocean. Elizabeth’s children were older and she had just gotten divorced. A lesson can still be learned, and it does not have to take a cataclysmic event to spur us forward.
As mothers, how many dreams have we put on hold? How many times have we put off buying something nice for ourselves because it was too expensive only to turn around that same day and spend twice the amount on our children? How many of you are out there are working and taking care of your families but not even enjoying what you do? How many of you out there are the mothers and fathers to your children? You are nurturing them, providing for them, and trying to teach your sons how to be men because their father’s are not around? How many of you go to bed exhausted only to wake up the next morning still exhausted and then you start the cycle over again? Who are you? Is this all you were meant to be..to do? Surely there is more.
It is time to revisit those dreams. It is time to dig deep within ourselves and find out not who we are..but who we are waiting to become. Langston Hughes, who I love, got it wrong. Deferred dreams do not explode or whither away. They await us in little silver boxes with blue ribbons, just waiting to be opened up and explored again. They may not look the same, they may not feel the same, hell they may be something different all together. They are there, just waiting.
Now, don’t run off and abandon your families. That is not what I am saying. However find some time, even if is just an hour a week, to find out who you are. Those clothes in the dryer will still be there when you are done. Better yet, teach those kids to get those clothes out of the dryer! We are not just mothers and wives..we are more. It is time to give the gift of ourselves to ourselves.