I woke up Sunday morning feeling fairly good about myself. I got up at 6:30 to go on a run and I was still giddy after staying up late the night before designing cards for my new business. But like my son’s balloon in the parking lot of Trader Joe’s, I suddenly deflated.
I opened up the New York Times to see that a former coworker had a column in the Sunday Styles section. Not just the Sunday Styles section, my favorite section of the paper, but the Modern Love column. My dreams in life are to write a book and have a Modern Love column. Yes, she also wrote a book and, yes, it was good. As was this column. It was funny and risky and sad. And about having sex with someone in the back of a car (it was about something else, much deeper, but really, who can get past the sex in the back of a car?). Oh, the bravery to tell such a story! Oh, the jealousy I’m feeling right now! I’m so jealous, I can’t stand it.
These sporadic feelings of jealousy started with that damn Facebook. An old college friend emailed me a couple months ago and said I needed to “friend” her so I could look at humiliating pictures of myself from 1994. I emailed back that she was already my friend and I wasn’t hip to her cool internet jive. I joined, and now I’m kind of hooked on it. (Not as much as the woman who keeps sending me virtual hugs. I don’t like people touching me, virtually or otherwise.)
Catching up with people I haven’t seen in ages is good. Reading about how much more successful they are, isn’t. CNN, The New York Times, books, companies , you name it and they’ve done it. I’m happy for them, but melancholy for me. After moving from the Bay Area I sort of dropped off the face of the earth. I made new mom friends and kept in contact with just my old, close friends. But with Facebook, I hear about everyone. It’s not that they’re all single with no kids. There are doctors, lawyers, editors, and a slew of moms who run their own business. What the hell have I been doing?
I’m not unhappy that I stay home with my kids. The reason my career isn’t going anywhere fast isn’t because of stay-at-home-momdom. The woman who wrote the book and the column is a mom, too. A single mom, so her job is much harder than mine. And my friend Claire wrote a book while her kids were napping. She has no childcare and she just did it because she’s awesome and much more focused than I am.
I’m hoping that by starting my new business I can get some of my focus back. It’s not like I sit around eating bon-bons, I’m very busy, don’t get much sleep and don’t feel like I have any time for myself. Before kids, it was so easy to pop from one thing to the next, to pick up and move for the next best opportunity. But now I can rarely make a phone call without interruption. Or finish a thought or have a meaningful conversation (take now, for instance. My 3-year-old is trying to sit on my lap and my 4-year-old is sitting so close to me my leg is starting to sweat).
I think I’ve been waiting for my career to be as easy as it was before kids. And now that I know that’s never going to happen, it’s time to focus.