Did Motherhood Steal My Ambition?

A long time ago (six years, two months and thirteen days ago, to be exact), I took all of the grand ambitions that I had for myself, and I crumpled them up into a tight little ball. And then I took that ball, and I shoved it into a deep, dark hole somewhere inside of me. And mentally, I labeled that hole, “Things I Will Do Once My Children Are Fully Grown and I am a Bored Empty Nester.” And I forgot about them. I got myself a cushy, mom gig; writing books, writing this blog, consulting on a television show. And for six years, two months and thirteen days, I’ve been telling myself that I am the luckiest mother in the world, because despite what everyone says, I have figured out a way to have it all.

 

And then a few weeks ago, something happened. I sat down one day, intending to work on my (almost finished) novel, and instead, I found myself writing a script for a television pilot. It’s an idea I’ve had for a long time – an idea that’s been sitting in that deep, dark, hole – but I’ve always figured that it can wait. There will still be tv when my kids are in college, and a good idea is a good idea, no matter when it comes to light. But it just sort of came out that day, as if I were channeling a television network executive through my keyboard. I wrote night and day, for two weeks straight, and I swear, I have never had more fun writing anything in my life.

 

When I finished, I gave it to my agent, with the following conversation running through the back of my mind: nothing will happen, he won’t even like it, he must get a thousand of these a day, I got it out of my system, now I can go back to writing my book. Except that actually, he did like it, and a few days later, I found myself having lunch with a tv producer who also likes it, and all of a sudden I have a new conversation running through the back of my mind, which is: Shit, shit, shit. What have I done, shit. Because creating a television show is not a cushy, mom gig. Creating a television show is major, high-powered, full-time job.

 

Which brings me to the point of this post, which is, namely, Do I Really Want to Work That Hard? And the answer is, well, the answer is, I do, I do, so badly, I do…just not right now. Because right now, my son still has two years left of preschool, and I want to pick him up at 12:00 and take him out to lunch, just the two of us. I want to hang out with him at the park before Harper gets home, and I want to go to Gym class with him. And Harper’s going into first grade, and I want to be there to help her with her homework at night, and in December, I want to stay at her school until ten o’clock in the morning every day to watch her class rehearse for the holiday show. I want to give her a bath at night while she’ll still let me, and I want to eat dinner together and hear about her favorite part of her day. And if I gave all of that up, I would forever be sorry.

 

musebox
07.30.08

You and I have the luxury of a choice on whether to ramp up -- so let's first celebrate that! I have a great gig as well -- flexible schedule, interesting work -- and I'd say 80% of the time I'm really happy. 20% of the time, when I see other people getting promoted and more responsibility, taking on positions I know I could excel at if I just put in more time -- I feel really bad. This past year, I ended up ramping things up at work, and even doing some occasional travel -- which resulted in a promotion. I'd say it was worth it, for the self-validation -- I still do have a lot of flexibility, and I'm on a slower track for sure, but I think it's important (for me anyway) to feel like I'm headed somewhere. I'm just not willing to wait 10 years to move forward -- live for today! And try making your own demands -- I'm always surprised at what employers will allow you to do, particularly if you have a proven track record.
musebox at http://intellimuse.blogspot.com

annematt
07.30.08

I have a cushy mom gig right now too, but I too have that dark deep closet of things I really want to do. You have to pursue the tv script, because who knows how long it will actually take to get going. Although your inclination is to jump to the end result and get crazed about all of the things you'll be missing - it hasn't happened yet. So enjoy the process and enjoy your kids. If you are crazy happy about this, then your family will notice and be happy that you're happy. Once you've signed your deal, then you can stress. But I'm sure you'll do great - good luck! http://www.tortilla-soup.com

leslie morgan s...
07.30.08

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Motherhood definitely CHANGED my ambitions. Mostly I acquired a new, very compelling goal: I wanted time with my kids more than a briefcase of stock options. I think lots of women experience this transformation, or addition to, their pre-mom ambition. Smart employers catch on and offer moms (and dads) flexibility so they can contribute at work and be involved parents.

The important thing for me is not to squelch my natural ambitiousness and competitiveness -- the same drive that led me to business school and a long, successful marketing career before I had my first child in my 30s. Our society sends lots of messages that women are not supposed to be competitive, ambitious, successful, powerful. And it's hogwash!

Your ambition will still be there when you catch up on your sleep and your kids can brush their teeth and do their own laundry.

mommyshighheelshoes
07.29.08

I don't think motherhood steals ambition...maybe for some, but not all. It sounds to me like your ambition and focus just shifted and into all the right places- your kids, kid stuff and a yummy Mommy gig that is/was working for you. Sometimes fate just comes in to play and in your case- that sounds like what happened. Maybe you can do it all. I would go for it and give it a whirl. If it becomes too much or your not enjoying it...re-evaluate!

Kristie at http://www.mommyshighheelshoes.com

christinenicole1
07.29.08

maybe i am naive, but seems to me you will never know til you try. what is the worst that can happen if you try it? seems like the worst would be that someone else would have to take over the tv show? at least you will have tried. and one thing we dedicated moms need to remember is that even when we are busy we are still great mommies. you may not be able to be at every school event, but the moments you do get will be even sweeter and i bet your children will grow to appreciate them more because they will see how much you do whenever you can. of course, that said, I would love to be able to financially afford to work 1/2-time and be home more with my kiddos rather than be a professional City Planner, career woman. good luck!

krivera
07.29.08

Risa - how can I get your job? Seriously. I work in the corporate world in a PR function that can be at times crazy, fun and interesting, but flexibility is so precious. I would say enjoy your kids now - in just a few more years they will both be in school full-time. And if this opportunity beckons you now ... many women find a way to make a full-time career and motherhood work.

silvita
07.29.08

I wish I had a mommy gig like yours and could spend more time around my baby. I always thought of myself as a career woman but I have changed my mind. Whether I like it or not, I have to stick to my career because I can't afford not to, and it hurts. Our feelings can always change, and having flexibility in your life is a great thing.

silvita
07.29.08

I wish I had a mommy gig like yours and could spend more time around my baby. I always thought of myself as a career woman but I have changed my mind. Whether I like it or not, I have to stick to my career because I can't afford not to, and it hurts. Our feelings can always change, and having flexibility in your life is a great thing.

momdoc
07.29.08

What a terrific dilemma! Before agonizing too much, step back and remember what an incredible luxury this sort of choice is! Over the centuries and around the world, how many women could claim this? The best parts of mothering, and a creative, challenging, lucrative, sexy job! But with your talents and resources, you will have lots of amazing opportunities--yet only one chance to fully engage in being the mom for young children who love you more than anyone will ever love you (as my mom told me). Now I am the incipient empty nester, and I am glad that I didn't run away from those mom experiences. They don't come back. If you didn't value them, a totally engrossing job would be fine--lots of women don't want to miss out on the full professional experience--but judging by how you describe your interactions with your kids, you clearly will feel a loss. The excitement of this sort of opportunity is like in high school when you had a new boyfriend--it makes your blood race-- but won't you be sorry when you miss out on those mom experiences that you value for yourself and your kids?

CopywriterMom
07.29.08

Yep. You just spelled out the ultimate challenge many of us face. We can try to have it all, but it's simply not possible. Motherhood and high-powered, full-time jobs compete for time and attention at all hours of the day, and we can't be in two places at once. While I love being at home with a similarly cushy, mom gig, I absolutely miss the fast pace and power of the corporate world. Congrats on the job opportunity and I wish you luck, but I don't envy the choices you're facing now!

- Sara
Freelance Writer, Marketing Consultant, & Super Mom
http://www.copywritermom.com | http://blog.saramariani.com