I once read one of those What Is My Ideal Job? books where you go through a series of questions that lead you to your best-suited vocation. It was about ten years ago when I was in a miserable spot in my career in marketing, eager to break away and do something different. One part of the questionnaire asked me to write about my ideal day. Not one to hold back in the imagination department, I wrote something like this:
(You should probably start hearing harp music now.)
I wake up at 8:00, refreshed after a good night's sleep. Before breakfast I slip into my bathing suit and swim twenty lengths of my swimming pool. After that I sip a hot cup of coffee and eat a healthy breakfast while looking out through large french doors, admiring the beautiful morning and the huge trees in my garden. I go into my office and sit at an antique walnut desk overlooking the ocean through a large bay window. I write for a couple of hours and then break for lunch and take a short stroll by the ocean. My work day ends at around four, when I start preparing dinner, glass of wine in hand, in my humongous kitchen, a great big feast for family and friends who will arrive later.
(Dear author of What Is My Ideal Job?, please send me a refund. Thanks a bunch.)
My ideal day never did happen. This is what happened instead:
(You can start hearing drums mixed with fingernails on a chalkboard and crying monkeys now.)
I wake up at 7:00 to my three-year-old shining his flashlight directly into my eyes and asking me what I am doing. Before I can properly wake up, my other son is there, also asking random questions. I shuffle into the kitchen with one eye open and one closed and start putting breakfast together. Then it's time to get everyone dressed. Getting two boys dressed is like getting ten monkeys dressed. Into clothes, shoes, boots, mittens and hats before heading out in the snow to school/playdate/other activity. Later, in between clearing away one meal and making the next and sticking a load of laundry on, I type emails that usually begin "I'm so sorry I've taken so long to get back to you...". By five o'clock I'm so tired I feel like my head is actually going to plunge into my dinner and it's all I can do to plead with my spine to keep me upright for a few more hours.
My expectations are lower - much lower - than that twenty-something-year-old girl with the list of how things in life should be. She can keep the swimming pool and the ocean view. I'll even give up the bay window and the walnut desk. All I want is a little bit of balance - that elusive thing we talk about all the time, as if achieving it is even achievable.
But I want some anyway.
My new thirty-three-year-old ideal day includes spending time with my kids and going to work for a few hours. That's about it folks. Nothing jaw-dropping, nothing spectacular. No french windows or strolls on the beach. Just a little of both: life as a mom and life as someone with other things going on that are not all about family all the time. C'est tout.
And not to be greedy, but I want just one more thing too.
I want to write more blog posts and I want to write them while the idea is still fresh in my head in the morning instead of waiting until the evening when brain has turned to swamp juice and all I can type are things like sploocrnachfl44iggy2lorp87 (or worse, let them pile up in my drafts folder).