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.
But then again, I wrote that script because somewhere deep inside of me, I know that it can’t wait another two or five or ten years. I know that the time for this show is now. The climate is right, the mood of the country is right, the people I know are right…I feel like this is my moment, and if I don’t seize it right now, it’ll be gone. It’s now or never. And I want it. Probably, nothing will happen. Getting a tv show made is nearly impossible to do. But on the off, off, off chance that it does, I know that I would enjoy doing it more than anything I have ever done professionally in my life. And if I gave that up, I would forever be sorry.
And so here I am, face to face with what I have been denying for six years, two months, and thirteen days: the cushy, mom gig is not enough. I really can’t have it all. My ambitions are greater than I have been willing to admit, and somehow, the ball has managed to escape.