“How did your mother teach you to dream, and how do you hope to teach your children to dream?”
For Mother’s Day, Whitney Johnson, a venture capitalist and popular Harvard Business Review blogger, challenged me to answer these questions. With her new book, Dare, Dream, Do, she’s out to inspire women of all ages to dream big and make those dreams a reality—especially mothers.
So I started thinking about my own mom. And I realized: it was what she didn’t say that counted most.
When I was a kid, I spent countless sunny afternoons writing stories. I called the space under the family card table my workshop and curled up there producing “magazines”—looseleaf paper stapled together—subscriptions to which I sold to indulgent family members. My friend Michelle and I sat side by side at her bedroom table, writing plays and reading them aloud to each other. I went to the library every Friday and came home with teetering stacks of books.
Never once did my mother say: “You should be outside more. You should do more regular kid stuff. You should daydream less, socialize more.” Instead, she took me to my grandfather’s book-lined apartment and let me wander his library for hours. She understood that I had plenty of friends with whom I liked to play quietly—and that one of my very best friends was my very own self.
Today, I know how lucky I was. Every day, I hear from readers whose well-intentioned parents asked them to be more like their extroverted siblings or classmates, to spend less time with the riches inside their own head. Many of these parents were loving and well-meaning. They worried that too quiet a childhood might lead to a future of loneliness.
My mother is a famous worrier, but somehow she never worried about this.
Thank you, Mom.
*The above post previously appeared on Susan Cain’s former blog, The Power of Introverts.