I had the great privilege of taking my oldest two to see Sing, the new animated feature out next week. The movie is adorable and feel good with a phenomenal soundtrack of toe tapping numbers that you will in fact be singing for days. More than that, I think at least I can speak for my own inner circle when I say that 2016 has been long and hard year and all of us need a few hours in a dark theater with an animated pig dancing to Taylor Swift or a gorilla covering Sam Smith. I told them this was a special treat for the kids, but truthfully, I needed this night out too.
Sing follows the story of Buster, a loveable Koala and theater owner who goes to great lengths to save his aging stage, including devising the idea for a singing competition which he hopes will draw in larger crowds. I assumed that this would be the set up for a rather trope storyline we very often feed our children about how if you follow your dreams with enough determination and passion, no matter what you will succeed. This is the overly romanticized bill of goods we often sell ourselves and in particular our kids. That dreams and possibilities are limitless. Which they are. But in truth, most of us know that there isn’t necessarily a direct correlation between how hard you want it and how likely you are to achieve it.
Not surprisingly, I most closely related to Rosita, voiced by Reese Witherspoon. A stay at home pig with the voice of an angel, she lovingly cares for her 25 little piglets as the laundry and lunches pile up. One day, a flyer advertising a singing competition quite literally flies into her home. But how – how will she pull off rehearsals while not neglecting her kiddos at home?
I get Rosita. I do. It’s not that your dreams or desires are less than your children’s needs or dreams, but sometimes it feels almost insurmountable to jump over the daily logistics of loving and raising them just to dig hard enough to find any space to contemplate your own desires, never mind act on them. Sometimes as a mother, it is hard to find your own dreams underneath the weight of the literal and figurative load you carry for everyone else.
When my babies were small, when they napped, I wondered what would happen if I tried to find me. What if I opened my laptop and searched, just for her. At first, actually still, it is scary. Because when I am here typing I can’t hide behind their needs anymore. Sometimes their funny little lives give me quaint anecdotes to write about. But once in a while I dig a little deeper. I write about how hard it is to love your children so much, that you literally lose yourself in that love. I write snapshots of my own needs and fears and passions. And when I write, truly write, when my fingers fly across the keys and it is dark and quiet and I can’t hear anyone asking me for anything, I feel free to be myself for no other reason than it is nourishing and liberating.
Sometimes I write and lots of people read my words. Sometimes I write and nobody does. And nearly 5 years into this, Sing reminded me of what I’ve always known, but have just might have forgotten along the way. It doesn’t matter. Because you can’t do anything you love for anyone else. You can only do what you love, for you.
When the movie was done, I asked my kiddos about their dreams and I got pretty standard answers about working for the Nintendo Company, or playing in the NBA. They asked me what I dream of and I said maybe someday I’d be a writer.
“But Mom, aren’t you already a writer?”
“Well, I guess. Sort of. I mean, sometimes I write.”
“Well, then you’re a writer.”
Thank God I went to Sing. And thank God I took a 6 and 8 year old with me to remind me that it is not about what you could be. It is about who you are and what you love to do. It is about owning that, and celebrating that, without fear.