I asked a simple question to 70 working women on the occasion of Women’s Day, “If God came today and begged you to choose your dream, what dream would you choose?” Ten minutes later, I had my answers. 100% of the women said, “My dream is to take good care of my parents and my children.” When I was preparing for the workshop, I knew a majority would prioritize this dream, but the majority would be 100%, was something that I was not prepared for. I coaxed them to think of a dream above being a mother and daughter because before being a mother/daughter they were individuals who had to have dreams and wants for themselves.
As silence progressed in the room, I knew no one had ever asked them this question before. They had not even asked this question to themselves. Right from the day they were born, they have been told that the ultimate goal of a girl is to take care of husband, parents and raise healthy kids. But what happens to women when children have moved out and parents are no longer in this world? Without having any dreams for themselves, what are women supposed to do at that time? I tried telling them that having a dream of their own did not make them a bad mother or a bad daughter. In fact, if they did not know how to achieve their personal dreams, how would they teach their children to dream uninhibitedly. If women in this world did not have dreams beyond being a mother and daughter, how would the nation progress? How would the world progress?
In my mind, I struggled to break this invisible wall. How could I have them think beyond their current responsibilities? Then I framed the same question in a different way, “When you were a child, and you did not have to worry about taking care of your parents or your children, what did you want to become?” I told them my story of wanting to become a Dad. I told them my daughters story of wanting to become a Ballerina. Slowly, I saw the mood changing. A beautiful lady said she had wanted to become a Pilot. Another one promptly raised her hand and said, “I wanted to be a doctor…”. Slowly I had a list coming out – Fashion Designer, Musician, Dancer and more. I saw them really digging into their memories and trying to revive their childhood dreams.
While a lot of them came out with their dreams, the majority of women still looked at me blank faced. They still had not understood the question. Could there be another dream for a woman in addition to being a good mother and a daughter? As the clock ticked on and my time was up, I ended the workshop with a heavy heart. I left the floor urging them to connect with the child within themselves and look beyond their immediate responsibilities. I hoped that the child would guide them to reignite their dreams.
As I walked to my car, I could feel their dilemma walking alongside me. After all, I was in the very same shoes, just a couple of years ago. I had never acknowledged my dreams to myself. I kept thinking that if my dreams came out in the open, they would disrupt the peace and balance of my household. They would definitely come in the way of my children’s wellbeing. As a mother, I had to prioritize my children’s dreams. My wants and dreams did not really matter.
I think it was the monotony of daily life along with an urge to do something bigger that slowly forced my dreams to come out from the dark corners of my heart. As soon as my dream were out, I readied myself for my family’s disapproval. But that did not happen. In fact, they were thrilled that I had a dream of my own. When I started pursuing my dreams, it made me a happier and fulfilled individual. Because I was happy, I could keep my children and my parents happy. I am a better mother, a better daughter, and a better citizen because I am a happier person now than I was before.
I am sure the audience I met yesterday does not represent 100% of the women out there. I am sure many of us have identified our dreams and have built an ecosystem around us to support the dreams. I write this blog for those women who have not yet acknowledged their dream. If you do not agree with me on this one, please share your views. If you think the only dream a women is entitled to have, is that of being a Mother, Wife and, Daughter, I would love to talk, argue (or whatever it takes) to start a dialogue on this front.