What's Your Family Motto?

09/26/2013 12:40 pm ET | Updated Nov 26, 2013


Once upon a time, our daughter, Katie, asked me if it was OK to dream about majoring in a particular course of study at a university that may as well have been on the moon for how likely she was to get there.

Once we were out of earshot of our little dreamer, my husband, Darrell, told me, "She picked the most expensive school... in the most expensive city... in the world..."

We collapsed in laughter. I can tell you the exact spot on the sidewalk where it happened. We were just down the street, next to the high school football field where normal kids were playing out a normal evening in a normal life.

But when Katie posed this most important question I knew it was pop quiz time, and I gave her the same answer I would've regardless: "Of course..."

I didn't know how we'd do it, but she wasn't asking for that. She was just asking if it was OK to dream. Isn't that sweet? Isn't that just the definition of sweet?

You don't answer "no" to that question, I decided, unless you're some kind of monster.

Maybe you think it's cruel to let a kid dream of what you're pretty sure is impossible. I think it's cruel to decide in advance what's impossible. People made it to the moon, after all -- and Katie made it to her dream school.

Our family motto, even before this happened, was: "We'll figure it out." That was tested during a scary few years, when we pumped more money into our business than a reasonable person would have. But I could no more give up on my dreams than suggest Katie water down her own. I'd like to think I was part of the reason she set her sights so high.

The first feeling you have after you commit to something huge is, "Gulp."

Now what?

Now, you go after it with everything you have, and don't decide in advance how it'll play out.

It's OK not to know. It's important to get help.

We woke up scared for years, and we forged ahead anyway. We kept going. We hung in long enough for help to appear, more help than I would've thought possible. Now it's time to make good on those dreams -- as much to thank people for their faith in us as anything.

And I'm pretty sure nothing good would've happened had we pretended we didn't want what we did!

Dream on.

As recently as six months ago we didn't know if Katie's dream of attending NYU would come true. But at the last minute, as we prepared to take on a mountain of debt so she could attend her second-choice school, help from an angel appeared -- in the form of a scholarship from a NYC philanthropist. It was straight out of a movie. We didn't have anything to compare it with. Winning the lottery, maybe. As long as I live I'll never be able to put enough good in the world to repay this gentleman for his kindness, and this post is dedicated to him.