Okay, so maybe 'ambitionism' isn't a word. Or maybe it is. I don't know. In any case, it's a demonic impulse that can immerse us stay-at-home dads (and moms, I'm sure) in a tumultuous ocean of lost hope, fierce anxiety, and endless frustration. But it's our responsibility to keep it in check, or, if we can't, to cope with and manipulate it, so that we can realize our goals without losing site of our first priority: our children.
For me, with aspirations of becoming a routinely published author, and a filmmaker, and maybe a few other things, ambition sometimes seems to be the driving force on my way to insanity. The two little monkeys who freely roam my house, littering and destroying it along the way, manage to garner a majority of my attention and efforts from 6am until 9pm. So all my ambitions, all my dreams, all my goals, have from 9:30pm until about 1am to manifest themselves. That's not a lot of time to realize so grand a vision. And it leaves me exhausted.
But I cope. I drink caffeine beverages by the gallon. When the hour grows late and I feel myself succumbing to the whimsical lure of my pillow, I play some bloody, wartime, shoot-em-up game on the computer to reinvigorate my imagination. You'd be amazed by the intensity of imaginary bullets whizzing past your head as you storm the beaches of Normandy, or by the insanity of avoiding snipers and German artillery as you race down the streets of Stalingrad. Yes, it's violent and sad, but so is life sometimes. Besides, if I drink caffeine so late at night, I'll never get to sleep.
Sure, it's often difficult to watch friends rampaging up the corporate ladder or graduating with PhD's, devoting all their time and effort to work and education and, well, being single. But it helps us understand the value of 'free time', and it forces us to make the most of what little of it we have. By becoming more efficient, less dependent on sleep, more dependent on caffeine, we can accomplish much in so short a time. And as long as we progress, even if the increments are infinitesimal, we can be proud of our accomplishments. Because we have two goals now. One, to become successful in our careers, and Two, to raise healthy, happy children. If we succeed, those friends with their PhDs won't have anything on us.
Besides, we can always go back to school.
(Note: I suppose some of this post is aimed at father's closer to my age (~29.56324). Many of the stay-at-home dads I've spoken to are a bit older, with successful careers already tucked into their back pockets. They've put aside their ambition to be successful at something else, namely raising their kids. And that's commendable. But we all know that ambition is still there, and surely it grows with every passing day. Maybe you're just better at keeping it in check, because you've already tasted that success and are confident that you can attain it again when the time comes. I don't know. What do you think?)
This post was originally shared on my at-home parenting blog, The Daily Writer, which has long since vanished. I’ve migrated many of the posts to this site for sentimental reasons.