The Bane of Ambition

I wake up some mornings, nearly bursting with ideas. I want to settle into my sunlight-striped office, and work. Work until all the ideas have been wrung out. Work until everything’s on paper. Work until something bears fruit.

As I descend the stairs to begin my day, I can literally hear those ideas shrivel and retreat. The counters are dirty, children are screaming for their breakfast, the trash must go out, and calls must be returned. There’s no room for ideas in my day. There’s no room on the days my husband has a meeting, or a presentation, or has to work. There’s no room on the days when he’s home, and errands must be run. There’s simply no room.

I want to work with my hands today. I want to complete a craft project. I want to finish some of the work we started, but I can’t. I want to expend my mental energy creating rather than dispensing repeated reminders that “feet should be on the floor” and “we have to share our toys”.

Some days, I wish I left the house each day to work. Some days, I fantasize about ergonomically correct mousepads, black dress pants, interdepartmental  memos, small glass jars of Hershey’s Kisses, and harsh fluorescent lighting. Some days I fantasize about the sound of silence. And then I consider getting up in the cold, in the dark, to drop off my children, spilling the contents of my travel mug in the process. I think about the stress that will inevitably overtake my husband and I after we’ve both worked a week and neither can find the muster to make groceries appear. Or writing a check to a daycare month after month. And it gives me pause.

Working from home is a blessing and a curse. There are (admittedly few) days when the raising of children and the pursuit of one’s worldly ambitions go hand in hand quite effortlessly, but there are others when you must let go of the tug on your heart and give everything to your family.

You wonder whether or not it’s terrible that you’d rather be writing, drawing, painting, or a million other things besides greasing your domestic machine, putting two-year-olds in time out. And you wonder if that makes you a selfish parent. And you wonder if that makes you less devoted. And you wonder whether you’re doing irreparable harm to your children simply by allowing a tempest to swirl out of control inside your head. Then you worry that everyone around you senses your unhappiness, your lack of appreciation for the great gift you’ve been given, because you feel there are ‘bigger and better’ things to do.

And you look at your kids, and, by George, they’re still cute. And you think that you’re doing right by them, bathing, and teaching and cutting their favorite foods into bite-size pieces, and nine o’clock rolls around, and you exhaustedly savor the silence, but you can’t let go of the notion that you may just have squandered another day of the rest of your life.