Now That I Have Some Perspective…

You guys, I did it again. I successfully made it to my toddler’s bedtime and lived to tell about it! It was touch and go there for a moment. You wouldn’t believe the exorbitant amount of poop I had to clean up today.

Well, actually you would. That is, if you’ve ever had a one year old that was stopped up a few days before exploding the entire contents of their digestive system into a diaper incapable of holding such magnitude. I don’t even understand how a teeny body can do so much damage. But, alas, that was my day.

Parenting is so glamorous, isn’t it? No wonder it pays so well.

Having a bonus baby has allowed me to relive stages of life I thought I was past…but with some perspective and experience. It’s actually quite fun, and I highly recommend it. I am absolutely clueless what to do with my teenager (OH MY GOSH, YOU GUYS, I HAVE A TEENAGER. I have not managed to accept this reality, so let’s move on…).

Like I was saying, I haven’t a clue about teenagers. But toddlers? I am basically a professional by now.

And some things never change. I still do a little celebration dance every night when my daughter is successfully asleep. Like most toddlers, she spends the day testing out how many different ways she can destroy the house and injure herself in the process. It’s hard work keeping a one year old alive.

And then like an hour after she’s asleep, my husband and I can’t stop talking about how she’s the cutest child on the planet. Because when they’re not busy planning their demise, toddlers are literally the cutest humans on earth. The sweet giggles. The pure joy of experiencing everything that is new and amazing. I cannot get enough.

However, some things have changed this time around, as I raise my 5th and final child. I like to believe I enjoyed all of my children at this age, but the fact is I was so terrified of screwing them up that it overshadowed my enjoyment the first couple of go rounds.

But you know what? I do screw up a lot of days. I am not doing it all perfectly. Or anywhere close to perfect. And it turns out that that’s okay.

Miraculously, the toddlers I worried so much about are becoming pretty awesome people, despite my glaring inadequacies as a mom.

So with Ellie, I am not so hard on myself. On days where I blow it, I know tomorrow is new day. On days where I rock it, I pray those are the memories she keeps. On the days that are just pretty average, I am thankful for the gift of getting to raise children.

I think I am most grateful for those ordinary days.

I know kids don’t want to be rocked forever, so I rock my baby a little longer.

I know toddlers become capable teenagers, so I don’t worry about teaching her everything right this moment. There is time.

I know things like sleeping and potty training and annoying behaviors eventually work themselves out. I am sure I will hate potty training just as much as before, but I have proof every kid eventually learns. (I promise.)

I know I won’t always spend my time cleaning abhorrent amounts of poop like I did today.

But even today, when my one year old whined all day and pooped when she wasn’t whining, I am thankful for the opportunity for one more chance to experience it all again.

Because with the perspective life has afforded me, I know this is the greatest gift in life. To love a child well and raise little people who eventually become big people…that are more incredible than you could ever dream possible.

Moms and Dads, what you are doing matters. Matters so much more than it seems when you’re in the weeds of it all. But those sweet toddlers and preschoolers who are impossibly hard and giving you a run for your money every single day…I promise they will grow up into amazing people who bring you so much joy. These nights where you have rightfully earned the right to celebrate another day of keeping them alive will eventually turn into nights where they ask you important life questions and really care about what you have to say.

I know the days can feel so long. I know how easy it is to beat yourself up about all of the things you’re not. But as you celebrate making it through another day, be kind to yourself. You are doing a great job with those little people. A really, really great job.

 

 

 

 

 

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You guys, I did it again. I successfully made it to my toddler’s bedtime and lived to tell about it! It was touch and go there for a moment. You wouldn’t believe the exorbitant amount of poop I had to clean up today.

Well, actually you would. That is, if you’ve ever had a one year old that was stopped up a few days before exploding the entire contents of their digestive system into a diaper incapable of holding such magnitude. I don’t even understand how a teeny body can do so much damage. But, alas, that was my day.

Parenting is so glamorous, isn’t it? No wonder it pays so well.

Having a bonus baby has allowed me to relive stages of life I thought I was past…but with some perspective and experience. It’s actually quite fun, and I highly recommend it. I am absolutely clueless what to do with my teenager (OH MY GOSH, YOU GUYS, I HAVE A TEENAGER. I have not managed to accept this reality, so let’s move on…).

Like I was saying, I haven’t a clue about teenagers. But toddlers? I am basically a professional by now.

And some things never change. I still do a little celebration dance every night when my daughter is successfully asleep. Like most toddlers, she spends the day testing out how many different ways she can destroy the house and injure herself in the process. It’s hard work keeping a one year old alive.

And then like an hour after she’s asleep, my husband and I can’t stop talking about how she’s the cutest child on the planet. Because when they’re not busy planning their demise, toddlers are literally the cutest humans on earth. The sweet giggles. The pure joy of experiencing everything that is new and amazing. I cannot get enough.

However, some things have changed this time around, as I raise my 5th and final child. I like to believe I enjoyed all of my children at this age, but the fact is I was so terrified of screwing them up that it overshadowed my enjoyment the first couple of go rounds.

But you know what? I do screw up a lot of days. I am not doing it all perfectly. Or anywhere close to perfect. And it turns out that that’s okay.

Miraculously, the toddlers I worried so much about are becoming pretty awesome people, despite my glaring inadequacies as a mom.

So with Ellie, I am not so hard on myself. On days where I blow it, I know tomorrow is new day. On days where I rock it, I pray those are the memories she keeps. On the days that are just pretty average, I am thankful for the gift of getting to raise children.

I think I am most grateful for those ordinary days.

I know kids don’t want to be rocked forever, so I rock my baby a little longer.

I know toddlers become capable teenagers, so I don’t worry about teaching her everything right this moment. There is time.

I know things like sleeping and potty training and annoying behaviors eventually work themselves out. I am sure I will hate potty training just as much as before, but I have proof every kid eventually learns. (I promise.)

I know I won’t always spend my time cleaning abhorrent amounts of poop like I did today.

But even today, when my one year old whined all day and pooped when she wasn’t whining, I am thankful for the opportunity for one more chance to experience it all again.

Because with the perspective life has afforded me, I know this is the greatest gift in life. To love a child well and raise little people who eventually become big people…that are more incredible than you could ever dream possible.

Moms and Dads, what you are doing matters. Matters so much more than it seems when you’re in the weeds of it all. But those sweet toddlers and preschoolers who are impossibly hard and giving you a run for your money every single day…I promise they will grow up into amazing people who bring you so much joy. These nights where you have rightfully earned the right to celebrate another day of keeping them alive will eventually turn into nights where they ask you important life questions and really care about what you have to say.

I know the days can feel so long. I know how easy it is to beat yourself up about all of the things you’re not. But as you celebrate making it through another day, be kind to yourself. You are doing a great job with those little people. A really, really great job.

 

 

 

 

 

All Moms Lose Their Crap Sometimes.

“I lose my crap on my kids sometimes. I love them more than anything, but some days I just lose it.”

This was the most common response when I recently asked parents to share their biggest struggles in raising kids.

(Thank you to all who responded. Life happened and I haven’t replied yet…but I took good notes! The “project” I was referring to was the possibility of writing another ebook, and I wanted to collect ideas from parents in the thick of raising kids. I have taken an honest assessment of my life and don’t think that’s in my near future. Instead of an entire book, I will complete my project in a series of social media posts.)

Can I offer some hope to you today?

All parents lose their crap sometimes. All of them. Seriously, every last one of them.

We are flawed humans raising miniature flawed humans. I am not a mathematician, but I know enough to know that 1 flawed human + 1 flawed human = a lot of imperfect moments.

Life is messy. People can be annoying, demanding, moody, selfish…and that’s just me on an ordinary Thursday. Kids wake up cranky, wanting their way, and doing whatever it takes to get it. The mixing of several humans under one roof naturally breeds conflict. And sometimes conflict makes us act in a way we’re not proud of.

Losing your crap on little people is normal. Not the best part of life, to be sure, but a natural part of the human experience.

Yet you feel immense guilt when you blow it. Which makes you feel ashamed. And you are an American, so you pretend everything is fine. Which makes you think no one else is struggling. Because no one talks about it. So you feel more shame. And you keep it to yourself. Because you think you’re the only one.

And I get it. It’s hard for me to post this because even though I know that I know every parent blows a gasket on occasion, I am still nervous to write it on Facebook.

But it’s true. Everyone loses their crap sometimes. Humans will forever and always act like the imperfect and flawed humans they are.

When you act like a fool and yell at a six year old, stop letting guilt and shame eat you alive. It does you no good. Apologize to your kids. Forgive yourself. Humility and forgiveness are some of life’s greatest gifts. Use them abundantly and often. 

Children are the most amazing people on earth. They bring immense joy and fun. I absolutely love being a mom. But I am not immune to screwing up sometimes. And neither are you.

Give yourself some grace. Take a deep breath. You’re a great mom doing the best you can. And, my friend, that is more than enough.

Practically Imperfect In Every Way

My parents will be the first to tell you that motherhood did not come easily to me. I have awesome parents, and they’ve raised six children and fostered so many that I’ve lost count. Yet, when I became a mom, I thought I knew better than they did and wouldn’t really listen to their advice.

Except for when my mom stayed the night with me in the hospital after my oldest son, Caleb, was born. My giant husband couldn’t fit on the tiny couch, so my mom graciously stayed with me. After about the third hour of Caleb’s incessant crying, she suggested that I send him to the hospital nursery where sweet nurses, who hadn’t endured fifteen hours of labor and a C-section the day before, were more than willing to care for him.

“The birth class instructor said the nursery is available but isn’t suggested for moms who want to bond with their babies,” I told her. I cringe now to think that’s what I was told and am even more horrified that I believed it.

My mom wisely replied, “Once you leave the hospital, you will have a lot of nights alone with your baby. I would take advantage of the help while it lasts.”

So I did. Oh my gosh, am I glad I did. With each of my four children, I sent them to the nursery every night I was in the hospital, only seeing them when they needed to eat. By the time I got to kid #4, I sent him there for the entire night, where the nurses gave him bottles of formula and brought him back in the morning. With three kids awaiting my arrival at home, I needed all the rest I could get to recover from my C-section.

No one stole my babies as I feared they would. I’ve definitely had many nights alone with them where I could only dream of a sweet nurse’s help.

My mom was right.

A smart woman would have realized that she had a lot more experience than me and her advice would be very helpful, but apparently, I like to learn lessons the hard way.

After all, they had raised children in the dark ages (DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH DIFFERENT IT IS NOW???), and I had read THE BOOKS. My childhood was the best, so it makes it even more weird that I didn’t listen to my parents.

Nonetheless, I didn’t.

Having spent a lot of time trying stuff that didn’t work and finally landing on what does work for my family, my parenting style doesn’t look much different than the way I was raised. Shocker.

On a recent trip with my parents, with this book on my mind, I was talking with them about raising kids.

My dad said, “We weren’t the best parents, but we sure had a lot of fun.”

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Contrary to this story, he actually was the BEST dad.

These words resonated with me because they also describe my family. I can barely get my kids fed, much less make their food into works of art. I yell too much. I forget to brush their teeth. I don’t make them eat their vegetables. I over coddle them. They watch too much TV. Eat too much sugar. I am definitely not the best mom.

We sure have a lot of fun, though.

We laugh every day. We dance. We take mistakes lightly. We forgive quickly. We play outside more than we do school work. We make cupcakes on a Tuesday just because. We sing together and dream together.

If you had a difficult childhood, then it may be hard to believe this because the bad memories are raw and memorable, but having had a good childhood, I can honestly say that I really only remember the good.

I remember movies nights with Coke and popcorn.

I remember dancing (terribly) with my sister.

I remember sushi nights and morning runs with my dad.

I remember my mom redoing my hair five times to “get all the lumps out”.

I remember playing Run Down (a game we invented) with my older brother and cousin.

I remember playing in the sprinkler, in our playhouse, and in our barn.

I remember driving with my little brother while listening to Lil Troy.

I don’t remember my parents losing their minds, though I am sure they did.

I don’t remember being forced to eat broccoli, but I eat it now.

I don’t remember if I was good at sports, but I remember seeing my parents at every game.

I don’t remember if my mom breastfed or bottle-fed me, because, honestly, it doesn’t matter.

Organic food didn’t exist, and fast food was king.

I don’t remember my parents reading to me, but I slept in their bed when I was scared.

I remember sitting on the bench for an entire softball game in third grade, feeling devastated, but laughing with my mom by the time we got to the car.

My dad never cared about my grades, but he helped me write the most fantastic papers. Technically, he wrote them *for* me. No need for semantics.

My mom never threw a Pinterest-worthy birthday party, but she invited every single person in my grade so no one felt left out.

My dad wasn’t necessarily a strict disciplinarian, unless I crossed my mom, but he played the best practical jokes.

You don’t have to do everything right to be a really good mom. You don’t even have to do that much right. Raising kids is so much more than right and wrong. Parenting has changed a lot since I was a kid, but I can’t say that it’s always been for the better. My parents weren’t obsessed with every little detail being perfect, but they came through in the ways that mattered most. That’s all I actually remember.

They loved me unconditionally.

They met my basic survival needs.

They created a home where I felt safe. I could make mistakes. Failure wasn’t punished.

They let me be little. I wrote on the walls. I broke valuable items.

They taught me to be confident.

They encouraged me to dream big and to never say no to an adventure.

They taught me to take life as it comes and not to worry about what might happen.

They turned the lemons of life into delicious lemonade.

And they bought me Doc Martens when my unfortunate seventh grade self wanted desperately to fit in.

According to the perfectionistic standards of today, maybe my parents weren’t the best ever. I mean, my dad taught us how to lower each other down our laundry chute from three stories high using a bed sheet. I think he could be arrested for that these days.

We definitely had the most fun, though, and we still enjoy that relationship today. The dad who took the time to help me write amazing papers in middle school inspired this chapter.

In my most favorite words of the late Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

In today’s parenting language: “I’ve learned that your kids will forget when you yelled, they will forget the details of their birthday party, but they will never forget when they blew it and you loved them anyway.”

We’ve already established that I won’t be winning any parenting awards. I can say, though, as an adult who finally started listening to my parents, my kids will definitely say, “We sure had fun!”

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This is an excerpt from my book I wrote a hundred years ago. Cupcakes on a Tuesday is FREE for a limited time, if you’d like to read more about my average parenting. Doesn’t that promise entice you? I am nothing if not great at promoting myself.  

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I took a nearly two year hiatus from writing. Around the last time I published a blog, my already wild family was surprised with baby #5. My precious Ellie was born in November of 2017. Between my terrible pregnancy, Ellie’s very early arrival (she was born at 32 weeks), parenting FIVE CHILDREN, homeschooling, working from home, and losing my amazing dad…my brain had nothing left to give.

I am hopeful that life will give me a bit of a break from the overwhelming stressors of the last few years, which I am hopeful will include dusting off this ole writing space.

Until then, you can enjoy some of the highlights from when I used to write:

This made the front page of the Huffington Post. Internet trolls came HARD for me and suggested I divorce my husband since our marriage was obviously in shambles. Raising five children doesn’t exactly look great on a Tinder profile, so I think I will keep him around.

Sometimes I forget that the internet is forever.

This is my most popular post to date. Since its original publication, I now have some tweens and a toddler with some more kids sprinkled in…more than ever, I needed to be reminded of this.

This is my most important post to date. Since its original publication, I have spent a lot of time listening. I haven’t written much on the topic because I feel like I have way more to learn than wisdom to give, and I am thankful for the voices who have taught me so much.

Tbh, I just signed up for 18 more years of parenting. So I am feeling a little less emo about the whole thing, but perhaps you need a good cry today. And I am happy to oblige. 

I Am Not A Summertime Mom

Somewhere around mid-March, I start counting the days until school ends. I dream of the days when no one complains about math and I am not throwing dinner together before racing out the door for practices.

Sleeping in. The carefree schedule. Not having to do any school work. I anticipate summer with more excitement than my children.

And then like clockwork, about two weeks into summer, I remember what I forget every year:

I am not a great summer time mom.

The magical summer I dream of in March is mostly just a dream.

I love the idea of summer, but with four children, the reality of it is never quite like I imagine.

Blame it on Newton’s Third Law of Physics (which I had to google the name of because I stopped paying attention in science class around second grade):

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Sure, having children who are old enough to sleep in is the most magical thing on the planet (the action)…until I want to Netflix and chill with my man…and my children want to come in my room every 30 seconds because they aren’t tired (the opposite reaction).

And, even though my kids play all day long, our carefree schedule does not provide enough activity to tire them out.

Before you tell me that your kids play baseball or are on swim team, here is what you need to know about me:

Give me football in Fall, basketball in Winter, and soccer in Spring. But suggest that my kids play the slowest moving sport of all time which involves copious amounts of dirt, and tell me to sit outside in the blazing sun for a double header while corralling the children not currently playing…and I will seriously question our friendship.

And don’t even get me started on the insanely early hours swimmers like to keep.

Add in the amount of time I would spend applying sunscreen each day, and trust that if I am going to live my best life, it does not involve any aforementioned activities.

I take responsibility for my disdain towards the available summer sports, but I am who I am…and it only serves to prove my point that I am not a summertime mom.

As if my reference to Sir Isaac Newton and the use of physics in the middle of July wasn’t proof enough.

The reason I cautiously admit that summer is not my thing is because people like to post stuff on Facebook with titles like “You Only Have Eighteen Summers With Your Children So You Better Make The Most Of Your Time”. Which excludes but implies the subtext, “If you really love your kids, you will soak up every moment and spend every minute enjoying your precious offspring.”

But this also excludes my current reality: I am pregnant with my fifth child and literally so sick and tired. And my children have decided that summertime is the perfect time to fight all day, beg to play electronics every 39 seconds, and ask “what are we doing today” twelve times an hour.

I barely have time to soak up their preciousness because I am mostly refereeing while letting them know they are responsible for their own fun.

Which they have difficulty with in late July because we are currently living on the surface of the sun…all indoor activities have been exhausted…and I limit how much they play electronics.

Not because I want to. On the contrary, my pregnant self would love if electronics all day could be a thing. My house would stay clean, and they would barely break to eat (double win!). But ole Newton proves true again in that electronics make my kids crazy. Sure, they’re quiet while playing them, but I must face the wrath of who they become when I take them away. And it ain’t pretty. 

This is what I’ve concluded: for some people, the eighteen summers are an awesome time to create memories, cherish your children, and soak up the time. And maybe if I wasn’t miserably pregnant, I would feel this way. (Probably not.)

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in June, when I still had high hopes for summer 

Then there are other people, like me, who are grateful to know that I also have eighteen Falls and eighteen Winters and eighteen Springs to do the same.

And that’s my family’s jam. We all function better on full (but not too full) schedule, adequate sleep, and a consistent routine…when we don’t default to electronics to fill the endless hours…and everyone generally knows what to expect each day.

I don’t particularly like school. I am not even a type-A personality. And if this pregnancy sickness doesn’t subside soon, cooking good meals still won’t happen.

I’ve just hit that point in the summer where it’s a little too relaxed and way too hot. And I’m over it. Instead, I am looking forward to chatting with moms at cheer practice, spending Saturdays watching my favorite boys and my favorite Seminoles play football, and settling into a nice, predictable routine. As predictable as a pregnant mom and four kids can be.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to buy school supplies. That same mid-March delusion is hitting where I convince myself that, if I buy all cute, new school supplies, my kids will actually enjoy school and not complain about math every single day.

A mom can dream. 

 

 

 

To Every Season, Change Change Change

Earlier this year, my husband and I decided to move our four kids halfway across the country…for reasons too numerous to list here. But mostly because we wanted to live near family.

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The week after we moved into our new house (which happens to be my childhood home…an awesome story for a different day), the session of my Leadership Journey happened to be on understanding and embracing change. Sometimes I just love how life works out.

It literally could not have come at a more perfect time because I was neck-deep in major changes in my life.

I am a person who loves change. I like to rearrange my furniture. I like to dye my hair. I like to move. But this relocation was harder on me than any major change had ever been. And I am no stranger to change.

Of course, the main reason was the difficulty in leaving behind friends that I treasure. Relationships will always be the most important part of my life, and I hate moving away from friends who are family. I was also sad to leave the home where my family had so many memories.

Which is why I was so grateful to learn how to better embrace change…right in the middle of a huge change.

The thing that most helped me was to realize change is very similar to grief. This made total sense to me because I truly was grieving the loss of so much. Obviously, friends are only a phone call and plane ride away. No one actually died. And people are what makes a house a home.

And yet, I still felt grief. Our move happened pretty quickly and was quite unexpected. So it took me a bit to wrap my mind around the whole idea. I had to let go of my life in Florida and embrace my new life in Missouri…in a new house with new friends. And on a deeper level, a whole new life trajectory.

Raising my kids in the Midwest is much different than in South Florida. Plus, my kids are old enough to understand moving. Being around family is a [welcomed] change after having not lived by them in nearly two decades. And the path life would take me on is changed because of this one major life change.

So it helped me so much to understand that it takes time to process change. And it helped me even more to remember that even the biggest changes eventually become life as normal.

Sure enough, we’ve lived in Missouri for nearly three months. And we are settling in quite well. I still miss my friends dearly, of course. But life is good.

Change is a necessary part of life. Understanding and embracing change is helpful to making it a little more palpable.

I am curious to know how you feel about change. Do you love it? Hate it? Embrace it?

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A few weeks ago, I graduated from my PeopleTek Leadership Journey. This has been the best thing I’ve done in a long time. If you manage people in your career, I cannot recommend this course enough. I promise you will be a better manager, and you will better serve your team. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of myself before I took this course, but I learned so much more about myself (and other people) than I ever thought possible. Definitely let me know if you are interested, and I can get you in touch with the right person to start your Journey.

 

 

You May Call Me A Dream(kill)er…

I am married to a dreamer. My husband is an entrepreneur and is constantly thinking up new business ideas.

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I am a person who can’t think past today. But I do have a strong sense of a bad idea.

For years, I’ve called myself as a dream killer. Because every idea my husband has, I have a thousand reasons why it won’t work. And he would agree that most of the time I am right.

I don’t kill every idea. We started our second small business just this week. And I’ve moved halfway across the country three separate times to pursue a new adventure.

I am open to adventure. I embrace chaos. And I love change.

But I don’t dream the wild dreams. I mostly {happily} follow the dreamer and kill every idea that’s stupid.

Hence, the dream killer.

I never really understood how my husband could be thinking of something three years from now when I could barely figure out how to make it until bedtime. He could never understand why I just know when something is not right for our family because he doesn’t consider the necessary steps to accomplishing his ideas.

Which is why the PeopleTek Leadership Journey I’ve written so much about has been revolutionary for me. (And I would highly recommend to anyone in a leadership position…in your workplace, family, church, etc.)

I’ve never considered the different roles my husband and I play in our family and business pursuits…until one of the classes addressed this specifically. Because I like to be mysterious, I don’t want to spoil everything I’ve learned (in case you go through the Journey).

But the conclusion is that I am not a dream killer after all. I am simply not a dreamer, but the role I do play matters. Knowing when to pursue a good idea and knowing when not to are actually just as important.

And instead of feeling like a jerk every time I tell my husband his idea sucks, I embrace my role. Over the years, he has learned to trust me. Because he knows he can’t see what I see. And I’ve learned to say yes when there’s no real reason to say no.

In marriage and in business, so much of the frustrations and disagreements come from two people (or more, in a workplace) having to work together but functioning so differently.

Whether or not you take the Leadership Journey I have taken (you’d be so smart to do so), I highly recommend learning about human behavior. We all do what we do for a reason, and horrible character flaws notwithstanding, who we are is just who we are. And you and I will be most successful in life when we allow people to be who they are. And fully embrace who we are.

I will probably never be a dreamer. But I’ve learned that when I said yes to marrying my husband, I said yes to a life so unpredictable and awesome that it’s probably a good thing that I don’t ever even consider making a five-year plan.

Because as many times as I’ve killed a dream, I am so thankful for the many dreams that have ended up shaping our lives in a way my practical self would have never allowed.

Does this resonate with you? Are you married to a dreamer? Are you, yourself, a dreamer? I would love to know!