Learning How To Dream Big

You would never know it to see me now but I was once a serious athlete. Bookcases and walls were lined with my prizes, filled with the shiny trophies of a youth spent sweating my way towards a finish line or a gold medal.

I spent as much time as I could running from my demons and shooting towards my dreams, as the hours in a day would allow. Sports weren't just for fun; they were my passion.

And then, a blown knee, a bad back and a baby (or two) and suddenly my dreams of standing on a podium, accepting a medal on behalf of my country scattered like gold fish flakes in a fish bowl.

My days as a contender were over but my dreams never died. I'm still the girl that sits in front of the television, watching athletes chasing their dreams while envisioning my own.

Luckily for me, having children birthed a new dream. Being a soccer mom has its privileges other than just sitting on a wet field on a cold spring day as you watch other people's children pick their noses. I may not be able to win any more medals of my own, but darn if I can't cheer loudly on the sidelines as my children win some of their own.

When Fric and Frac first toddled about, getting their feet under them, I naturally wondered if they would be athletes, scholars, or both. Would they jump as high as their daddy? Run as fast as me?

As it turns out they can out run, out jump and out think both their father and I. Which makes for good times on family sports night but not so fun times when they are hiding my cookies.


Part of the beauty of raising children is knowing your children are a package of endless possibilities and dreams all neatly bundled in a wee body that occasionally flushes legos down your toilet and refuses to eat anything green.

When I gave birth to Shale, I worried those dreams wouldn't appear. It took me a while to learn how to parent a child with special needs and it took me even longer to learn how to dream for him.

I was firmly mired in the muck of the reality of having a child that was differently-abled than my older children. Shale didn't do anything I hoped his siblings would do but he ended up doing everything he wasn't supposed to.

He sat. He walked. He learned to toddle in a graceless waddle that for him was a sprint. He thrived.

The same way his younger brother Jumby is now doing.

With every milestone and accomplishment both my younger boys made and will make, it inspires me to re-learn how to dream big for them again.

He could have been a contender.

These boys of mine, both Shale and Jumby have taught me to think bigger and be better and to know that it is possible to dare to dream big dreams for them.

They have earned those big dreams and they deserve them, the same as their older siblings.

I've learned having special needs children doesn't mean being ruled by limitations. It means learning how to dream bigger and finding ways to make those dreams come true. From dreams as small as learning how to swallow without choking to dreams as big as becoming an Olympic athlete.

One foot after another, he's chasing his dreams.

So when I was asked if I wanted to write about the Special Olympics, as part of a paid sponsorship for Procter & Gamble's Proud Sponsors of Moms program, it was a no brainer. I'm a mom, I love sports and I love any program that helps adults of all abilities make their dreams of winning a shiny medal come true.

As a longtime supporter of the Special Olympics (31 years and counting), Procter & Gamble is stepping up to the proverbial plate and helping the moms of  Special Olympic athletes with a huge chunk of change (quarter! million! dollars!) that will support local programs and services. They're also a sponsor of Team USA at the Special Olympics, taking place in Athens June 25 till July 4.

For every person who fans the Thank You, Mom Facebook page or leaves a comment, P&G will donate $1 to support Special Olympics Team USA's journey to Athens—up to $250,000 above their other contribution. That's a lot of dough that will help a lot of athletes and their moms.

(I won't deny I hope this program is a smashing success so P&G will sponsor Team Canada for future Special Olympics. Because our beaver loving, maple-tastic team of athletes and their moms needs all the love and sponsorship it can get too. So go click over to Facebook. Do it for the athletes. Do it for the moms.)

This summer, as the Special Olympics rage on, you know where I'll be. Sitting beside my children, watching these athletes chase their dreams, just the way I once dreamed of chasing mine.

Only this time, as I'm watching I'll know I played a part in helping make the magic possible for some of these athletes and their families.  I hope you will too.