Author Topic: conflicting dreams?  (Read 6524 times)

scrubbyfish

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conflicting dreams?
« on: November 17, 2013, 12:05:43 AM »
Shyly entering the room...

I've been reading MMM for a few weeks, and a goodly number of forum posts the past while. I tend to approach a new community by helping first, and asking for help (if needed) later. Today I am breaking this approach because I need to ask.

I've redrafted this several times, in an attempt to get myself clear enough to be clear to you! (It's not numbers, and it's fuzzy.)

I once was extremely broke (sleeping on streets, etc) and now have savings and a delightful (rented, cheap) apartment to nest in.
I was once terribly ill for several years, and through commitment to dramatic dietary changes became very healthy.
I was car-free for almost 20 years before I bought a car in cash.
I have no debt, and good savings (though not in the millionaire club by a looooong shot).
All good! Yes!

And now I feel, oddly, stuck. I feel I hit the jackpot in the MMM forums when I read a fellow (?) saying he had achieved so many major goals that now he is feeling a bit lost. I'm embarrassed to say that after gaining so much (which I am totally grateful for), I too am feeling at a bit of a loss. After reading this fellow's words, I'm betting it's common to get through major struggles and then feel disoriented without a major goal.

Why don't I have one, you ask? I parent alone (a child with special needs) and homeschool/unschool and run a tiny business to bring in our income. (I find the parenting part quite draining. I have way more energy when I'm alone all day!)

Somehow this feels like all I can do. I don't want it to be all I can do. I've always been very passionate about helping others, and have done that in a variety of ways for almost 30 years. I used to work 12-16 hours a day (mostly unpaid, all of it very happily). I keep hoping I can somehow "milk" a couple more projects out of myself, but I'm not feeling the energy and passion for that like I once did. I mean, I still do about 10 hours of volunteer stuff each week, and TOTALLY LOVE IT, but I can't see my way to doing more than that. I'd need it to be a project I could bring my kid to, or I'd need to be able to pay for child care, which would demand a much higher income. (He's smart, interested, and capable, but his 'special needs' are real and present, too.)

My life is a lot like early retirement, and I LOVE that. But, without knowing I would get to retire early, I chose to parent during the same period. I believe parenting my kid is the best thing I could possibly do -and, of course, I'm helping *him* 12-16 hours every day. But I also feel like I'm meant to do more in the world.

The most "realistic" possibility seems to be to triple my savings and hire people to do some of the fancy footwork. (A pipe dream? Or the excellent strategy of entrepreneurs that started out much much earlier and skipped the homeless/disabled part.)

Has anyone else grappled with this issue, with living with two conflicting purposes/dreams? Or, more specifically, with dedicating oneself to parenting full-time while also believing you're designed to do something else, too? Or have you grappled with achieving early retirement and feeling guilty or selfish for limiting your offers to the world? How many decades must we keep coming up with cool projects? Can we let go of those, even if we are happy, healthy, and intelligent/creative enough to come up with some more? If we're able, must we do? I'm more tired than I was at my peak, and thrive in silence. So every time my big dreams arise again, I quickly feel perplexed about how to pull those off. Mostly I feel super happy and grateful just to rest and chill and go geocaching with my kid. But this dream thing keeps nagging at me.

Well, this topic is even fuzzier than I thought it would be -I'd just love to open a discussion, then, about how "grappling" has manifested in others and what, if anything, supported you to resolve the grappling in favour of congruency? Is this really even an MMM topic?!?! I think so! And you folks sound like an intelligent and encouraging bunch, so I hope to hear back.

Gray Matter

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Re: conflicting dreams?
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2013, 05:29:42 AM »
So glad you entered the room!  Iíve got no answers here, but can empathize with much of what you say.  I have not accomplished all you have, or been where youíve been.  Iíve actually had a pretty easy time of it, a life very linear and according to plan:  college, marriage, job, house, graduate school, kids.

That said, Iím in much the same place.  Iím not an entrepreneur, and I donít home/unschool, but between my job and kids, I am exhausted at the end of the day (mid-way through?) and there just isnít the energy left for things I used to care about, and think I still do care about, but Iím not entirely sure because Iím too god-damned tired to care about anything.

I think some of this is normal for this stage-of-life.  I simply do not have the energy or stamina I had in my 20s and 30s and need to be more selective about what I take on and where I direct my energy.  And some of it is I donít have much time to really reflect about what I want, what my dreams are.  These things that occasionally bubble up in me, are they true dreams, in that I really want to do them, or are they just fantasies, in that theyíre fun to imagine?

I remind myself that balance isnít a state of being, but something that happens over time.  And as long as I am making a living and raising kids, some things just have to go on the back burner.  That does not mean they will never be front and center again, but they wonít be right now.  The day will come when I can give more of myself to others and causes I believe in, but right now itís mostly about me and mine, and it just has to be that way. 

Telling myself that works sometimes, and not others.  Life so often involves trade-offs, and that frustrates me to no end.  I can make more money, but would have less time.  I can spend more time with my friends, but that means less time with my kids.  I can pursue more hobbies, but that means less sleep.  I can free up time by paying someone to do things around here, but that means less money.  And 'round and 'round I go.

Let me know if you figure out the magic formula--I will even pay for it!  :-)

avonlea

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Re: conflicting dreams?
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2013, 06:45:22 AM »
Has anyone else grappled with this issue, with living with two conflicting purposes/dreams? Or, more specifically, with dedicating oneself to parenting full-time while also believing you're designed to do something else, too?

Of course.  I think any parent who has a child with special needs probably struggles with this somewhat regularly.  Or maybe more parents are at peace with themselves than either you or I are?  I did well academically.  I'm pretty sure I could do well with a full-time career.  I try not to think about it.  I love my son and I know that I am doing the best thing for him by homeschooling (and I usually enjoy it, too), but there are times when I get into the little pity party about what my life would be like if only he were *normal* like my daughter.  Terrible to admit, but I guess I'm going there.  You are not alone.  That's all I can really say.  The best idea that has helped me is to see that it doesn't mean I have to say "no" to other dreams, just "wait". 

Simple Abundant Living

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Re: conflicting dreams?
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2013, 07:27:10 AM »
Are there resources for your child through the public education system?  I'm sure you made your decision on what you feel is best for him. But it's important to balance your life as well.

Noodle

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Re: conflicting dreams?
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2013, 07:46:42 AM »
I am not myself a parent but I work in the non-profit world and see many volunteers...and it is very predictable that people join our organization either when their children leave the nest, or when they retire from paid work. It is very rare that we find people who are raising young children or teens...modern parenting is just too time-consuming for most families. This is just to say that what you are experiencing is very common, and that more opportunities are waiting when the next stage of your life comes along, if that helps at all.

And congratulations on your many achievements so far!
« Last Edit: November 17, 2013, 07:54:12 AM by Noodle »

arebelspy

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Re: conflicting dreams?
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2013, 08:54:41 AM »
Thanks for sharing some of your story - quite inspiring.  I'd love to hear more of it in a journal post or something.  :)

I think there's a few issues - energy, focus, and desires to name a few.

Without the hardships "pushing" you, it's easy to feel lost with where to go next.  Many others hit this same thing (though not through the hardships you had) when they have massive debt, focus so hard on getting rid of it, then feel lost when it's gone - what next?

FI can be a good goal, but not necessarily FIRE.  If you are passionate about your business, bringing on help to expand and grow it is good.  If you aren't, and it's just income, you can look at making it more passive and/or more efficient to have more time for volunteering.

Not knowing his age, what sort of volunteering can you do with the child?

I think you should spend some time thinking of new goals - what do you care about?  Working on these things can give you new energy.

Make sure you are getting enough sleep and eating healthy.

And, at some point, it will come down to a choice.  What are your priorities?  You may just have to accept that and find peace and contentment with it (for now, knowing it might change at some future point).  Let go what could have happened.  Make the best choices for you and your child, and then accept and allow what is happening to be it.

"For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: 'It might have been!' " - John Greenleaf Whittier
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scrubbyfish

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Re: conflicting dreams?
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2013, 09:48:21 AM »
How absolutely thrilling to wake to find several replies to my fuzzy question! Thank you, all! A gorgeous welcome.

I'm not sure what I was "expecting" to read, but I notice I'm surprised at the quality of the replies. Empathy/understanding (which is always a magic bean to me), information (life stages at which most people move into volunteering - makes sense), and sound questions. I am relieved to learn that a person with a more straightforward journey can land in the same psychological place -which means it's not just my own disability, history, etc, that is the issue- and also that FI does not have to involve RE.

By the way, it's worth mentioning that my journey from abject poverty to where I'm at now is a result of the book Your Money or Your Life, which I know lots of people here are familiar with. (Every once in a while I Google that title just to reengage with the concept -that's how I found MMM.) I did only a very early exercise in that book -estimating my income from all jobs to date- and my life quickly turned around. I still live quite in line with YMOYL principles (the smallest, cheapest home I need, etc) though I have a bit more spending money now than ever before.

Anyhoo...

I didn't realize other parents felt similarly -I hang out with several that are very content, whose primary goal was always parenting and never anything else. (I think they might feel scary questions when their kids leave the nest, as I'm experiencing my scary questions while mine is in it.) Now I'm realizing that if I were to introduce this topic in my parenting support group, for example, I would likely hear that others feel likewise.

My kid is 8/9. He did do mainstream, public school but no, there weren't resources for him. There were supposed to be, but after a long time (and much lobbying on my part) there still wasn't even a minute of support. He's "eligible" for lots, and the school district is funded to provide it for him, but the reality was that he was left to his own devices, thus at age 7 coming home exhausted and frustrated with wild piles of "homework" (the things he couldn't do in class because of his disabilities), with his self-esteem plummeting. I'm crazy grateful that I'm positioned to give him options. He is very happy now and loves his learning experience. And I find the unschooling/homeschooling (we do a mix of these) to be far more relaxing and fun than getting to school on time then greeting a devastated kid 6 hours later.

The topic of energy is excellent. Yes, some of us are tired by midday at 40! And I think with several major projects behind me, I now know what projects can involve in terms of commitment, time, long days, etc. And I seem to be shying away from *that*. The last one I did was much harder for me (the fatigue/parenting factor) and I didn't love the final months of extremely little sleep and lots of stress. I guess that's been turning me off. It likely would have felt worth it except that when the social enterprise was ready, a third party (who deemed my project 'competition') tried to sue me for the rights to it. It cost me an enormous amount of money (my own) to protect/save the project, only to end up losing the project's income in the process. This event caused me to reevaluate the worth of "giving" and left me pondering FIRE instead. (I'm only realizing the latter as I write this.)

ETA: Minutes later I'm realizing, too, that while all of my previous work and experience led me to being an excellent parent and advocate for my son, I am stunned to find all of this channelled into just one person. I used to serve a couple of hundred different people every month, and they gave me strokes (thank yous, amazing stories of how my work helped them, etc). This one person who benefits from all that experience loves me and is very kind, but he does not give me the strokes the 200+ people per month used to. It's embarrassing to say, but those strokes really fed me, energized me, kept me going and happy. To love my work, I seem to need positive, verbal workplace feedback.

Hmmm... Definitely lots to think about here. Thanks for the thoughts, perspectives, wisdom, and new questions. I'm going to sit with those for a bit. I've already re-read each of your posts 3x, coming away with more richness each time. And I certainly welcome more thoughts!
« Last Edit: November 17, 2013, 10:04:33 AM by scrubbyfish »

Freckles

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Re: conflicting dreams?
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2013, 10:27:08 AM »
I've found it helpful to think in terms of my whole life.  The time when your children are young is intense as they are, by definition, quite needy.  But the time is also pretty short when thought of over a whole lifetime.  I think, OK, my first 20 years I was a child and becoming an adult and working on basic education.  My next chunk of life, (15 years for me) I was furthering my education and starting my career.  Right now I'm in a phase of having young children and therefore putting most of my energy into their needs and development, which leaves less time for other things.  But this will last... 10 more years, 15 years?  I will still be parenting them when they are teenagers, but I imagine the intensity of time of involvement will be less than it is now.  So, about 15 years total on that, and then I still have a good 40 years to focus on other things I'm interested in.  It doesn't seem like a very long time to put other interests on hold for the sake of their development when you think of it in this long-term way.

scrubbyfish

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Re: conflicting dreams?
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2013, 01:12:44 AM »
I like that, Freckles -thank you.

Today his disability flared up and, while it was super hard to deal with that flare, I did realize later that, yes, I really do become wildly drained on zero notice dealing with these spontaneous crises! So it really is enough for now. And I do love investing (in all ways) in him. We've come very, very far -beaten many odds. I'm looking at how I can remind myself of this, and affirm within myself my "contribution", so that I'm not relying on customers/clients for psychological well-being and motivation.

This evening I spent considerable time looking at what I can control: numbers/spending/budget/planning, and how I can maximize that picture to create more fulfillment through other avenues while also keeping him as my priority -because he just is.

These gains are a result of all the responses here, so thank you very much, everyone who replied!

avonlea

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Re: conflicting dreams?
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2013, 06:19:06 AM »
My kid is 8/9. He did do mainstream, public school but no, there weren't resources for him. There were supposed to be, but after a long time (and much lobbying on my part) there still wasn't even a minute of support. He's "eligible" for lots, and the school district is funded to provide it for him, but the reality was that he was left to his own devices, thus at age 7 coming home exhausted and frustrated with wild piles of "homework" (the things he couldn't do in class because of his disabilities), with his self-esteem plummeting. I'm crazy grateful that I'm positioned to give him options. He is very happy now and loves his learning experience. And I find the unschooling/homeschooling (we do a mix of these) to be far more relaxing and fun than getting to school on time then greeting a devastated kid 6 hours later.

So it really is enough for now. And I do love investing (in all ways) in him. We've come very, very far -beaten many odds. I'm looking at how I can remind myself of this, and affirm within myself my "contribution", so that I'm not relying on customers/clients for psychological well-being and motivation.

Your situation mirrors our own experiences and my son's accomplishments.  Feel free to PM me if you ever want to talk.

I hang out with several that are very content, whose primary goal was always parenting and never anything else. (I think they might feel scary questions when their kids leave the nest, as I'm experiencing my scary questions while mine is in it.) Now I'm realizing that if I were to introduce this topic in my parenting support group, for example, I would likely hear that others feel likewise.

I hang out with several people like this, too.  Usually, their initial motivation for homeshooling was different from mine (They decided either before the birth of their child or when the child was a very young age that they wanted to homeschool...simply because they love the idea of always being with their child, not because the public school system failed them or because their child cannot function well in a classroom setting).  I think you will find that there are indeed others in your community who struggle with the same feelings you have, but yes, there are a lot of homeschoolers who are extremely content.  Homeshooling is a great way to educate a child.  To be honest, I am quite happy with my life situation 95% of the time.  I just have to watch out for that other 5%. ;)

This evening I spent considerable time looking at what I can control: numbers/spending/budget/planning, and how I can maximize that picture to create more fulfillment through other avenues while also keeping him as my priority -because he just is.

Great perspective!  Take the life you have and make the most of it.  It is beautiful, and you are becoming a more beautiful person because of it.  If you ever have a hard time, though, I find the poem "Welcome to Holland" helpful.  http://www.our-kids.org/Archives/Holland.html
« Last Edit: November 18, 2013, 02:11:48 PM by avonlea »

arebelspy

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Re: conflicting dreams?
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2013, 08:18:19 AM »
Great perspective!  Take the life you have and make the most of it.  It is beautiful, and you are becoming a more beautiful person because of it.

+1

If you ever have a hard time, though, I find the poem "Welcome to Holland" helpful.  http://www.our-kids.org/Archives/Holland.html

That was amazing, thank you for sharing.

How much of life can that be applied to?
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scrubbyfish

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Re: conflicting dreams?
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2013, 06:36:50 PM »
Quote
I hang out with several people like this, too.  Usually, their initial motivation for homeshooling was different from mine (They decided either before the birth of their child or when the child was a very young age that they wanted to homeschool...simply because they love the idea of always being with their child, not because the public school system failed them or because their child cannot function well in a classroom setting).  I think you will find that there are indeed others in your community who struggle with the same feelings you have, but yes, there are a lot of homeschoolers who are extremely content.  Homeshooling is a great way to educate a child.  To be honest, I am quite happy with my life situation 95% of the time.  I just have to watch out for that other 5%. ;)

The internet rocks!

Avonlea, you are a gem! That poem was wonderful! It said it perfectly. Thank you so much for posting the link to it.

Also, your understanding helped me grasp so much more. (I read your post this morning and have been thinking about it all day. Also, you said earlier, "I did well academically.  I'm pretty sure I could do well with a full-time career.  I try not to think about it.", and that has been an immense source of relief to me. Yes, clearly I am not alone!)

In your latest post you hit the nail on the head again -the folks I homeschool alongside usually went into it because they wanted to spend all day with their kid(s), and found that the most fulfilling and fun situation, and/or they enjoy the actual homeschooling part.

I love my kid and have an amazing time with him -especially when we go on our road trips. But while I'm a real homebody, I'm not an interactive one like some of the moms I so admire are. (Sometimes I make a great effort to emulate those moms, but that just makes me more tired. How do they do it?!? More power to them!)

Also, several of the homeschooling families I hang with here are supported by a second parent, while my mind is always aware that I have to also generate income. When we're together they sometimes talk about the income generated by the other parent, and about how they just spent $3000 (!) on a week-long acting camp for their kid. In those moments, my happiness and satisfaction dissipate and I question my whole life! Where I was satisfied and proud a moment before, I suddenly see us as relatively poor -and the $25 science kit I, after much Mustachian evaluating, got for my own kid and was so proud of seems silly and insignificant and insufficient. I have to invest mental energy in remembering where my kid and I both started, how far we've come, that we're doing great, that I was super happy the moment before that conversation, etc. lol.

I, too, find I am very happy with my situation the vast majority of the time and, yes, just must beware the percentage of time I feel stuck, etc. I'm getting quite excited and energized, thanks to this whole thread, about some possible new directions -even some volunteer (and/or paid) work I can create that might fulfill some of my psychological needs while having my son alongside, or cared for in other creative ways. And today I paid special attention to how I am present for my son, and his joy in that :)