Changing How A Girl Dreams

I can close my eyes and remember when my baby’s bottom fit in the palm of my hand. I have such dreams for my children and would sacrifice almost anything to see them succeed. But my girls are dreaming different dreams than I did.

My kids are growing up – fast. Just yesterday my oldest was asking for dollhouses for her birthday, and now she wants TV seasons, books by Nicholas Sparks, and skinny jeans. How did that happen? She’s developing her own sense of humor, her own style, her own wants and desires and dreams.

My oldest daughter learning Voltige

She was telling me about her future plans the other day. She is going to go to school to be a veterinarian to pay the bills, she’s going to own a farm and train horses, and she’s going to write novels on the side. When she’ll have time for all that is an interesting question.

What struck me was the difference between her plans and my plans at that age. Though we have many things in common, she’s her own person. I don’t expect her to want to follow after me, or make the same choices I have. But if I’d had those exact aspirations at her age, they would have been prefaced with: marry a guy who had all those things.

Seemed easier.

My mother insisted I needed a backup plan. Not because I couldn’t trust a man or should expect my marriage to fail – but anything can happen. So, I went to university and got degrees in English and Education, but my plans were to get married and have a family. I thought that would be enough. In university, before I started dating my husband, I met a few guys who shared my ‘barefoot and pregnant’ philosophy.

Turns out I wasn’t as big a fan of the depend-entirely-on-a-man idea as I’d thought. Turns out I have an independent streak a mile wide, and a lot of opinions and aspirations that got in the way of achieving success on that particular path.

Many of the girls I grew up with dreamed of getting married, having families and rich husbands. One of my school friends thought she’d know she’d made it when she married a man rich enough to have a hot tub in the back of his limo. These aren’t the dreams I’m hearing from my girls or their friends. Getting married is part of the grand scheme, but not an end in and of itself.

My younger daughter at aerial circus class

Perhaps this fiercely independent mother is simply raising independent daughters – but maybe girls feel they have more opportunities than my friends and I did. Maybe there are more opportunities for girls than when I was growing up. As a tween, I looked to Princess Diana, and Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Grey. My girls talk about Roberta Bondar (first Canadian female astronaut), Beth Underhill (Canadian Olympic equestrian), Shania Twain, Lara Croft, and Eowyn (from Lord of the Rings).

Maybe my girls will be part of a bigger movement to bring even more change to the world’s attitude towards women, maybe their generation will continue to make lasting change everywhere that sees oppression to women end. A mom can dream :)

Do you think girls have more opportunities now than even 20 years ago? Is that a good thing?


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  1. says

    I was the odd one growing up. I wanted to get married, but it was always part of the bigger picture rather than the whole picture. I think that largely came from the fact that many of the guys I met were looking for a “barefoot and pregnant” wife (to steal your phrase), and that wasn’t what I wanted at all so I felt like a weirdo. It wasn’t that I didn’t someday see myself being a mom, but I wanted to do other things too.

    While I do see women having more opportunities now and as being more independent, at least in church communities there’s also a kick back happening where girls are being taught that it’s better for them to raise their kids, stay at home, and not want a career.
    Marcy Kennedy recently posted…Do You Believe In Second Chances?

  2. says

    Lisa, I am a foreigner in this department. All I ever wanted to do is get married and have a family. I did not go to college and I did get married straight out of high school and I am still married to the same man. Well, not the very same man, mind you. Both he and I have done some growing up, fortunately we did that together along with a lot of faith.

    But we do live in different times. So many more families become broken and there is a need for a woman to feel secure amid these prevailing circumstances. I think it’s great that your daughter has attainable goals to shoot for. But as the years fly by, life does have a way of shooting holes through some of them. But she had a good mom to guide her along the way! :)
    Karen McFarland recently posted…When Life Gives You Lemons…

    • says

      Oh, I’m sure she’ll change her mind a dozen more times. That’s fine. I was just struck by the direction her dreams took. My friends and I were planning weddings and who-will-you-marry and will-he-be-rich games. lol

  3. says

    I grew up concocting lots of different dreams, but I always wanted to be a mom. I did get a college degree, but got married shortly after that and immediately started having kids. When i talk to my 17 year old daughter about life after high school–I always stress the importance of going to college, but I kind of feel a tiny bit hypocritical since I didn’t use my degree–not in the traditional sense anyway. I guess I just want her to be secure independently. Plus I think college offers a lot of breathing room for figuring out dreams and growing up–as opposed to jumping right into a job or family. It’s great to have choices though!
    Coleen Patrick recently posted…The Freedom and Adventure of Taking to the Road in YA

    • says

      Yeah – my mom stressed the importance of going to university and getting a degree in something – anything. She never finished high school. I still got married young (half way through univeristy) and had my kids young and have never really used my degrees. Choices are HUGE!

  4. says

    I grew up in a different time when it was expected that a girl would marry – without a husband, who would look after her?

    My dear old grandmother always said a girl had to be able to look after herself and somehow I knew I would do that. So I learned to be a keypunch operator (anyone remember those machines?) and got a job. and supported myself. Met my hubby 6 months later and worked until our first was due. My parents were shocked that I worked – after all I had a husband! But I did. and when all my children were in school, I went to university and got my first degree (of 3), my parents came to convocation and cried – they were so proud of me.

    I went to work and have worked ever since. I raised my daughters to be able to care for themselves, Ironically, one of them is a career woman, married, with two children. The other is a stay at home mom who lives in much the same way as my mom did. So who knows what happens?

    thanks for the look into your girls’ lives.
    Louise Behiel recently posted…Why Being The Family Hero Hurts

    • says

      Thanks for stopping in. Maybe it’s just my perception that things have changed then. Maybe growing up in an isolated small town meant we were several years behind the times? :/ I think Coleen’s comment about choices is important. We should be able to choose the path we take. That’s a big step from when my mother and grandmother were young.

  5. says

    I thank God every day that my mother taught me from very early on to chase my dreams, depend on myself, and never let a man have control of me. Partner with me, yes. Control me, no. Because of her I went to college, I found a career, found a husband (because I wanted one, not because I had to) and now I’m chasing my dream of being a writer. She never wanted me to be the girl who sat at home and dreamed about what might have been. She always told me she never had the chance. In her day, she could be a teacher or a nurse, or she could get married. To her those were her only options. Makes me sad to think that, and grateful that she taught me different, and happy that the next generation is not trapped like my mother was (or felt like she was). And yes, I think it’s a great thing!
    Melinda VanLone recently posted…50/50 Update: Double Feature!

  6. says

    I think all of our kids have more opportunities these days- they know more about what is going on in the world- through youtube both my son and daughter have found things they want to do that terrify me.
    I also think that as parents we are more concerned with giving our children more opportunists by signing them up for classes- esp circus one! Both my kids have taken circus classes :)
    Its one of the reasons I have a lot of circus stuff in my YA book.

  7. Hannah says

    It was my mother who told me repeatedly “Girls can do anything boys can do and they can do it better”. I’m raising my two girls with the exact same motto. :) So I have to disagree, I was brought up to fend for myself and if a husband came along it was simply a bonus. Of course, you might as well have fun on the journey and break a few hearts too!

  8. says

    I don’t see that much has changed because I had all the opprtunities growing up that the girls today have. My mother was a feminist who had to fight the status-quo. But it was all there laid out nicely for me. I grew up being told not to depend on a man. That I am equal and can do anything I want. As a kid I wanted to be a doctor, and then an advertising exec. My parents would have been highly disappointed if I said my goal was to get married and have kids. I see that girls today are dealing with a more sexualized media and issues of weight and body image that start at a younger age. In a way, they have more against them than we did.
    Emma Burcart recently posted…My Best Relationship Was in Third Grade

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