A friend recently joked, “I’m living the dream! It’s not my dream, but it’s somebody’s dream!”
Years ago, when my children were still in elementary school, I dreamed about moving my family to Central America for a year. Complete and total immersion. We’d all become fluent in Spanish. We’d see flora and fauna we’d never before seen. We’d eventually make friends with the suspicious locals. I would wear embroidered tunics and learn to cook in a whole new way. Never mind that our family has never traveled outside of the United States, or even east of the Rocky Mountains, we could become, at least temporarily, expatriates!
“But what about my job?” asked my husband.
“But what about our friends?” asked my children.
“But what about my dream?” I responded.
My dream never made it further than a stack of books from the library and a mini lesson on the geography and culture of Central America. I only have one embroidered tunic, which I found at a thrift store and never wear. It’s not really my style. Travel isn’t really my style either. I’m a homebody. Vacations longer than three or four days make me a bit panicky. My solution to seeing more of the world without vacationing was to make a home somewhere else.
When I ran into an old acquaintance at yoga, my dream to live abroad came rushing back as she told me about her family’s adventure. They had lived in South America for six months, during which time they homeschooled their three children, and exchanged work for a place to live. Her eyes lit up as she told me about the incredible places they visited, the experiences they had, and the people they met. “You lived my dream!” I told her.
I have a saying that helps me to live a more minimal lifestyle: Be happy that it exists without needing to possess it. “It” being whatever that thing is I find myself wanting - usually a material item - but squatting on the floor of the yoga studio, hearing about living and learning in South America, I realized “it” can also be an experience. In my sweat drenched, post yoga euphoria, I truly felt happy for the family who experienced what sounded a lot like my dream. If I didn’t have the experience, at least somebody else did.
As homeschoolers, it doesn’t always feel like we’re living the dream - our children may balk at our carefully crafted lesson plans; the dining room table is always a cluttered mess; we wake up in the middle of the night worrying that we’re doing it all wrong. Chances are, however, that we’re living someone else’s dream. There is a mom at work right now who wishes she was home with her children. There’s a dad teaching a room full of students who dreams of staying home to teach his own kids. There might even be a family in Central America wishing they could live and learn in California for a year. If you know them, I’d love their contact information. Maybe they’re interested in a house swap. Some dreams don’t disappear, they just take longer to become reality.
MOLLY DUNHAM lives on the edge of a wild river canyon in the foothills of Northern California with her family. She enjoys hiking with friends, lifting heavy weights, and paddle boarding in the dark. But mostly she's a home-loving word nerd, happiest among works of creative non-fiction, spiral bound notebooks, and sharpened yellow pencils.