I stand here at the base of 2016, with myriad things I want to do in the foreseeable future. These goals aren’t floating around my head because it’s a new year. They’re present year-round, popping up and receding with little prompting.
I feel excited and overwhelmed by the options at hand. I’m goal-oriented, to a fault. I constantly seek new quests. I loved planning our wedding, getting ready for our first baby, doggedly pursuing a new job, researching our summer vacation, and training for a marathon. I throw myself into projects and thrive on seeing them through.
Without goals, I get bored and unmotivated, then cranky. Aligning my life to goals makes me feel in control. Wherever I fall on the crazy spectrum is with goals firmly in hand.
But life as a working mom keeps getting in my way. Reach for the stars, land on a pile of unfolded laundry.
This is the hardest part of parenthood for me: recalibrating my goals. I know women who have children and think: This is it. Motherhood is the role for me. I will build my life around my kids.
Errr, I don’t feel this. I admire this perspective, and sometimes even feel guilty I don’t share this sentiment. My thinking is: I love my children and parenthood is a great adventure. Now how can I continue to pursue my many interests while keeping them happy and still getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep every night?
Some days, even though I want to, I can’t wholeheartedly explore starting a business, writing a young adult book with my mom, or even going to a yoga class in between morning routines, kid drop-off, working full-time, kid pick-up, and making dinner. My husband is a great dad, but his work leaves much of the weekday parenting to me. By 8pm, the most I can do is fall into the couch with him and watch Seinfeld reruns, and even that feels like an accomplishment.
I remind myself that my husband and I made decisions – to have a family, to own a home, for him to take on a more demanding job – that dictate what freedoms we have. They are good decisions and ones that I believe in, but it means other interests must wait until our kids are older.
So I do the easiest thing (which isn’t even that easy): I wake up each day, take care of my kids, and do my job. Like any job, there are highs and lows. I generally enjoy my work and am motivated by certain projects, tasks, and colleagues. But is it the most satisfying role for me right now? Is this where I’m supposed to be? Life is a Choose Your Own Adventure. There are so many options out there, but I’m overwhelmed by possibility and don’t feel I have the latitude to explore.
Or do I? Is there an app that quantifies how much time I waste on social media, Amazon, and Etsy? I’d like to see how those minutes add up over a year. Like many of our distracted generation, I’m guilty of mindlessly bleeding my time and energy to useless activities, probably more than I think. What if I repurposed those minutes and did something more productive?
I’m hard on myself. When I take a step back, I think I’m doing just fine. But is that point? No, the point of life is to enjoy the small moments. To revel in the little, daily routines, interactions, and conversations that give our life shape, and to savor the nuggets of specialness in between the mundane bullshit.
There’s an awesome scene with Patricia Arquette in the movie ‘Boyhood’. Her son is leaving for college; she’s crying and says (I’m paraphrasing), “Where’d all the time go? All these big milestones came and went, and I just thought there’d be more. You know what’s next? My funeral!”
Maybe this year I won’t start a new business or pursue some other lofty goal. I might just read a book until the end, or be there when my daughter loses her first tooth. That would be cool.