Mother's Bill of Rights: Dreams

The Mother's Bill of Rights is a reclaiming of the rights that the current culture of sacrificial motherhood would strip from us. It is a commitment to ourselves and to our families that we will not diminish ourselves or them by placing these parts of us on the altar of motherhood. We will be whole human beings. This is the gift we give to ourselves, our children, and our world.



When I was a little girl and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up my first thought was always, ‘happy’. I learned quickly that what they meant by that question was what career was I interested in. 

What I really wanted was to have a home, a place where I felt safe and valued. I wanted to be a mother of six children. I wanted a big, dumb dog who would follow me around and look at me adoringly. And I wanted to write stories that people would read and love.

None of those things sounded appropriately exciting, so I said I wanted to be an actress.

The dreams of my childhood have been some of the truest in my life. They are the real wishes of my heart and haven’t changed much in the 38 years I’ve been knocking around this earth.

When we become mothers we are told that our dreams no longer matter. We are told that our only dreams should be for our children, that we should put our lives on hold until they are on the way to achieving their dreams and then we can begin again.

The mother who drops out of college to raise her child and ends up graduating in the same class – that mother becomes a viral sensation. It never occurs to us to work towards a world where mothers wouldn’t have to make that choice.

It never occurs to us that mothers are human beings who have a right to their dreams and to pursue those dreams while they are actively mothering. No, the mother should stop. The mother should surrender. The mother should give up personhood for parenthood.

We must be productive, above all, we must be productive. What have you accomplished today? How many things have you checked off of your never-ending to-do list? We must produce more so that we can earn more so that we can consume more and on and on and on. It is our humanity that suffers under this system – where does daydreaming fit into this cycle? Where does creativity fit? How does the muse make herself heard while we’re spinning the hamster wheel?

It feels wrong for us to rest, as mothers. We can only do it when we’re sick or injured. Some of us can't do it even when we have time for it. We have cleared our schedules and set aside time for dreaming, for play, for creativity. And we sit there, frozen.

We freeze because we feel unworthy.

We want to make the absolute best use of our time, to prove that the inconvenience to others was 'worth it'. We want to choose the most effective form of self-care so that the time away from our family will be 'worth it'. We want to express ourselves at the highest level so that the effort it takes to chase our dreams will be 'worth it'.

But that’s not how dreams work. Dreams cannot be quantified or commodified, they don’t fit into our best/worst thinking. And they refuse to be rated. Dreams are heart and soul fed. They are imagination and inspiration and impossibility.


Maybe you’re like me and your dreams haven’t wavered in decades. Maybe you are feeling the stirring of a new dream while you read these words. Maybe you believe that all of your dreams died years ago.

Whoever you are, whatever you have been through or are going through, you have dreaming inside you.

You have wishing.

You have imagining.

You have hoping.

You have playing.

You have believing.

This is not all there is. There is so much more out there for you.

Your dreams do not have to be big in order to be huge. They can be personal and tremendous all at once. You can have one dream or multitudes. They can change, they can evolve, they can come true, and they can be replaced.

I am not saying that you should abandon your family and run away with your guitar. I am saying that you can pick up that guitar right now, today. You can pick up the part of you that saw things differently. You can reclaim the part of you that is the yes, the part that opens, the part that yearns.

It is not wrong, selfish, or harmful to love something besides your children. Or to want something outside of your home, your family, or your career – something that is just for you.

What do you want to be when you stop growing up?