Every time I’ve expanded my family or deepened my responsibilities as a Dad, I get advice on how to “place my dreams on the back burner”. I don’t know about your Dream Stove, but mine only has front burners.
When I moved back from L.A. to get married in 1999, fellow musicians mourned the tunes I’d never get to write. When we had our first daughter, some coworkers and extended family prepared me to shuffle off into the sunset in some pleated khakis. They would read from their Book of Unsolicited Cliches: “It’s not just about YOU, anymore KC.”
“Oh. It’s not? I have to feed, and clothe this thing? Noted!”
By the time we delivered daughter #2 in 2008 followed by our son last year, we finally had a healthy mix of believers who said “you got this”, balanced by some realists: “3 kids is where dreams go to die”.
All of these well-meaning souls are here to protect us. They are the direct reflection of our inner alignment with our Life Mission. I believe that in carrying out our dreams and grand schemes, we actually cue up our own adversaries to test us. The world needs to know how bad we really want it.
The problem is, too many of us end up agreeing with the first wave of resistance. “Yeah, Mom is right. I need a back-up plan and a 401K. A writing career is a long-shot at best. It won’t feed my kid.”
So on one side, we have, let’s call them the
Family Over Dreams Crowd.
But who’s on the other side of the aisle?
I call them the Dreams Over Family Crowd: a lot of lifestyle design bloggers and marketers, telling us our dreams, freedom, and financial independence only happen once we quit working for The Man. The idea of creating a family is seldom discussed, because there’s no way to drag children around the world you’re trying to save. It just doesn’t fit into the model.
But what about those of us who actually dig our jobs, and couldn’t imagine navigating this crazy world without our family tribes?
My family is my ultimate creation, accountability, and legacy. They force me to upgrade my game on levels I wouldn’t have had to as a single entity.
I’m going to gently turn now to both The Family Over Dreams, and The Dreams Over Family crowds and make some suggestions.
Save your advice for yourself. Reconcile, and honor your own path. Keep us aware of the alternatives, but also know that your model doesn’t account for everyone. You could actually be missing out on something profound and magical.
I’m not saying we should all have kids. In fact, I am grateful for anyone who abstains if their heart and soul isn’t in it. But if it’s part of your Life’s Mission… Rock it the hell out. Have 50.
Recently I had the honor of interviewing a hero of mine, songwriter & activist Ani DiFranco (I’m releasing the 30 minute podcast interview on Tuesday, 11/20). When I asked her if she always knew that she wanted to have kids, she said: “No. My songs are my kids, my job is my life. I was totally happy, totally fulfilled. But becoming a parent exposes parts of yourself you had no idea were in there.”
Our world improves in direct proportion to our ability to influence, and nurture capable humans.
Align your Big, Honkin’ Dreamz alongside your familial obligations. Demonstrate daily how to live your dreams to your partner and kids. Let them ask questions. Show them what’s working, and what’s not. Invite them into your inner world. Let them know it’s cool to think you’re crazy, because you do too!
Build a home of possibility and wonder. Try to do the silliest shit on your street before any other houses wake up. Thank them for keeping you young.
Realize that your family and your goals never needed to be mutually exclusive. In tandem, they are actually a force-multiplier. Get them properly aligned to create an immediate feedback loop that clarifies, amplifies, and fuels each profound mission.
Families power dreams. Dreams power families. There, I said it. And I don’t care how corny The Truth sounds. <CLICK TO TWEET>
I wanted to finish with an excerpt of The Framework Manifesto, which launches next Tuesday November 20th. This is from a section on Art & Music being one of my longest standing, and sacred life ingredients (I call these our Non-Negotiables).
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Shortly after we moved to Chicago, I booked a little show just to remind myself I could play. The only people we knew in the city were coworkers, and a few actually showed up.
One brought her fluffy-haired, drunk and jaded roommate from college. This woman now had kids and a giant house, and just seemed really bored with all of it. After my first set she complimented me, and followed it with: “Your wife must really be a saint, to stay home with the baby and let you keep doing your hobbies… so late on a work night.”
I laughed, and said, “Fortunately, you don’t know me, or my wife.”
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