Hold Your Ambitions Lightly

Photo Credit:  Victor Camilo  via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Victor Camilo via Flickr Creative Commons

As a parent of young children I know the discomfort of caring for my kids needs in the midst of my own struggle to realize my creative ideas.  It’s a struggle we all share and everyone’s solutions are different.  Like you I am on a journey and cannot say what the outcome will be but I’d like to share with you what my aims are now and how these aims have grown from the hardships and joys of parenting.

Before the kids arrived my dreams were at the center of my life.  The identity crisis of parenthood shook the foundations of these dreams.  On the one hand I felt fulfilled in a new and unparalleled way.  On the other hand I felt frustrated and agitated that I couldn’t do the work that was once the core of my identity.  

It’s been four and a half years since my first child was born.  The paradox of frustration and delight still color each day.  But there is an important difference now: I hold my ambitions lightly.  Like so many parents my kids re-oriented my priorities.  I focus more now on intrinsic interests, serving people, and make the most of my skills not for personal gain but to build a well-rounded life.  

In many ways our children don’t change our vision.  They soften our vision.  When we hold our ambitions lightly we allow our creativity to collaborate with the Universe.  Working for personal gain is its own hardship.  When the hardship of parenting comes into the picture we can choose to take a path of aimlessness.  Aimlessness doesn’t mean you are without vision.  It means you do not direct your work tightly.  Instead you take whatever steps you can take.  It means you move in the direction of meeting the needs of your community, network, or family.  

As creative people self-expression is essential to our wellbeing.  We can choose to push for personal fulfillment.  Or we can allow fulfillment to flow into our lives and celebrate the creativity that is always in our midst.  Creative parents have a unique opportunity to make a working life for themselves that is both strong and tender.  Our insights as parents opens our hearts.  The practical difficulties we face each day strengthen our capacity to get things done.

The straight and narrow path we followed before parenthood may no longer be open to us.  When I first became a parent it seemed there was no other way to get work done.  I despaired.  As is so often the case time has softened my perspective.  Now I take small steps toward my vision.  I celebrate my modest achievements.  I keep a bright mind about my future.  And I look toward the needs of people around me and how my skills can best serve those needs.  It’s a slower road but it has greater, sweeter gifts than single-minded ambition.