The other day, I was meeting with a friend who is a stay-at-home mom, as I once was. She was lamenting how hard it is to find time to write with all the responsibilities of home and children. I passed on a piece of advice a friend said to me when I was lamenting something similar many years ago. She said, “Your kids will never remember how clean or dirty your house was. They will remember, though, a mother who worked hard every day at something she loved and believed in.”

Can we, as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, and friends truly be role models for the children in our lives if we don’t follow the same advice we give them? Can we expect them to “follow their dreams,” when we don’t do the same? Can we expect them to “never give up,” when we do just that? Can we expect them to “work hard to achieve what you want,” if we don’t let them see us working hard too?

As a teenager, I was one of those kids who taped inspirational quotes to my bedroom mirror or hung them on my bulletin boards. All kinds of quotes about how I could do anything if I just believed it was possible and how my talents were gifts for me alone and I must use them or lose them. Ever since I was in the fifth grade, I wanted to be a writer. And through all the ups and downs, I never stopped hoping that would happen. But I also knew I’d never be a writer unless I actually wrote. There was no shortcut to success. If I wanted to be a writer, I couldn’t just dream about it. I had to do it.

It’s never going to be easy to find time for our art, but we owe it to the dreamer inside of us to somehow make it happen. The universe will back up our dreams, I was recently told, but only if we work toward them. You can’t just wish them into being or pray them into existence.

So let’s encourage each other. Let’s tell the artists in our lives—whether they are professionals or hobbyists—their work matters, and not just to them. True, their finished art may someday impress or move others, but just the act of their working will inspire so many of us, including our children. Because kids are always watching.

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Also published on Medium.