I turned 39 this weekend. I feel great. I think turning 38 last year was the rough patch, honestly. I tend to round up in age, so as soon as surpassed what could reasonably be passed off as “mid-30s”, I already felt the weight of the next decade. But 39 feels like I’m a super-young, preemie 40yo. So I’m great.
So here’s what I realized: I’ve been ambitious and tired for almost a decade. It’s a strange combination.
Ambitious connotes high energy and drive. It’s what I’ve had since I was little, always striving to be better, trying new things, looking for internal and external markers of success and accomplishment.
Tired is the opposite. It’s the absence of energy. It’s from pregnancy and caring for a newborn, it’s from feeding and caring for kids, it’s from the endless schlepping and buckling, it’s from what I call exhaustive joy that fills you up but also calls for a nap that you never get. It’s from the endless ticker tape running across my mind of the things to do and not forget.
Ambitious and tired is this paradoxical space I’ve navigated ever since I got pregnant for the first time. It often feels like being in limbo because the “tired” part prevents the “ambitious” part from landing where it wants to go.
Especially throughout the pandemic I have heard a lot of stories of parents — especially mothers — closing their businesses and leaving professional endeavors because it felt like the only sane option on the table. They gave up on the “ambitious” to yield to the back-breaking weight of the “tired”.
It’s really unfortunate because to anyone who has been a caregiver, it is clear that you can only marginally change the nature of what makes us “tired”. Being a parent takes what it takes. Having full-time childcare doesn’t obliterate the “tired”.
What we can do is recalibrate the economics of “work” so that our ambitions can continue to live and thrive and have somewhere to go during these particularly exhausting seasons of life as parents. I have lots of ideas here.
This is in essence my theory that I’ve been exploring in some form or another for years. And I’m planning to really dig my heels into this in the next year. So stay tuned. If you're navigating this same space of ambitious and tired, let me know. I love hearing directly from you!
Happy Valentine’s Day. Happy nesting.