Sunday, August 25, 2013

No ambition

I suppose that, using popular terms, I could be defined as someone who has "no ambition". I always loved learning, and thus got through school with mostly good grades; I proceeded to a university degree, because it was expected of me, and because I couldn't imagine anything else I would rather do. I completed it with good grades as well, but I was never attracted by anything, including my direct field of expertise, in terms of a career, success, the means of making money, gaining prestige, status, etc. I recall thinking, when I was very little, that I would love to be a teacher. This fantasy soon vanished in the face of what a madhouse the average Israeli class is. 

In contrast, though for many years this remained subconscious, I was always attracted by the tranquil, the domestic, the cozy, the comforting, the traditional. Many favorite passages from favorite books related to home comforts (such as in Narnia). Like many others, I fell in love with hobbits, and dreamed of living in a hobbit-hole someday. I loved to listen to stories about people who picked up their own fruit from their own garden, and baked their own bread - even though in real life, both fruit and bread always came from the supermarket. 

I guess, then, that right now I'm living out the supremely un-ambitious, bread-baking, egg-gathering, home-bustle, quiet life. I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything, or rather, I realize that by necessity we always miss out on something, because when we choose one road in life, by necessity we don't take all the other roads, don't do all the other things we could have done. If one chooses to be a doctor, it means one "misses out" on being a painter, a teacher, an engineer, or whatever. If one chooses full-time homemaking and child-rearing, one "misses out" on having an ambitious career. If one chooses the career path, other things are by necessity lost, and they are too numerous to list here. 

Today, as the sun was setting, a friend stopped by with her little ones to look at our latest brood of chicks. While all the children played outside, we caught up with each other a bit (I haven't seen her in a while). It turned out she and her husband are both currently very busy working on their M.Sc. thesis. I then heard some very, shall we say, fascinating details about how the brains of a mouse are extracted from the skull and dissected (I shall skip those, alright?). I heard how many mice she processed with her own hands so far, shuddered and said, with a pained smile, "well, better you than me!"; I guess I should emphasize the fact that I had been a vegetarian for many years, and that when we buy whole chickens, I still ask my husband to cut them into parts for me before I proceed to cooking them. 

I would not be surprised if my M.Sc- and PhD-pursuing friends, looking at my life, might say, "Well, better you than me!" - and that is fair enough. As for me, it might sound strange, I know, but I'm kind of happy I was not born more ambitious. 


Anonymous said...

I would say you're ambitious enough. Just because you know your limits doesn't mean you aren't doing what is exactly right for your family.

Lady Anne said...

When I got out of high school I went to work, and worked until my oldest was in high school. One day it dawned on me that I was old enough to decide for myself what time to eat lunch and when I could go to the bathroom.

I am registered with a temporary agency, but I just can't imagine going back into the working world.

And I know *exactly* what you mean about cutting up a chicken! Sooner him than me!

Anonymous said...

Anna, this made me laugh - except for the vegetarian part, I could have written this word for word myself, up to and including Narnia and the hobbits. Ambition used to be considered a sin, didn't it? Isn't ambition (discontent with our place in God's order) what drove Lucifer out of heaven? And drove Eve to eat the apple? And yet today, at least in America, and perhaps Israel too, ambition is considered a virtue, and those of us who lack it, who are content where we are, are thought to be missing some vital component of personality. Like you, I don't feel like I'm missing anything, and I'm grateful to be here, now, with these kids and this garden and this life.

Elspeth said...

The dearth of home-minded women has made the world poorer, not richer.

God bless you, Anna.

SubWife said...

I wouldn't call you as someone lacking ambition. If you look at the definition of the word, it means "strong desire and determination to succeed." How we choose to define and measure success is up to us. I think it is very important for you to succeed as wife and a mother and you do want to succeed in being more or less self sufficient on your land. If someone chooses to define success purely in terms of professional and monetary achievements - well, it's their right and probably loss.

Princess Lea said...

I feel the same way. I did well in school, because I do believe in the satisfaction of a job well done, but I have no drive for a career, to juggle the "balancing act."

I feel as though my career will be, IY"H, raising children. I'm not the person who loves babies for being babies or plays on the floor with kids. To raise a Jewish child with Jewish values is a job, and I after semi-raising nieces and nephews, I think I will know how to do it.

That glow I have when I manage to teach my niece something important . . . I don't get that ever in the office.

living from glory to glory said...

Hello Anna, Your more then ambitous in my eyes. Setting your heart on family and home and making it work is a full time job. After my children were grown and gone, still people asked me well are you going back to work now!
I am busier and happer then ever, now I have grandchildren :)
Now are you sure you do not want to diccect mouse brains, I am not going to ask you again. (snicker snicker)
Blessings, Roxy

Ellie Rae said...

I was never interested in a career, stayed home except for an occasional part-time or temporary job for a few hours a week, not even half-time. I was always satisfied with that, although I have a college degree. Nothing can replace time spent with your children or caring for your home. So I don't regret it. Now that I am retirement age, however, and have grown children, I have to admit that I envy the retired career women who earned enough to put their children through college without loans to hinder them in their young adulthood, and their lovely retirement homes and fancy cruise vacations paid for with their pensions that they earned. THAT'S when I feel like I've been unambitious, and those women view me that way. So, it's best to avoid people like that who will make you second-guess your decision to stay home. I know I made the right choice, and it doesn't hurt young people to pay for part of their education (we were able to pay half). And we still get to travel when we want to, if we save for it. I'm glad that you are happy with your decision. It is the right one overall.

Rose Godfrey said...

You, my friend, are ambitious in ways that are dear to my heart and to the hearts of many others. It was good to take a moment today and catch up on your blog today.

Anonymous said...

I would say raising a family well is the ultimate ambition - so much can go wrong, it is such a constant, ever-evolving challenge that it takes courage to take it on.

That said, people are different and to some, raising a family may be the ultimate nightmare. Everybody needs to find out what they are suited for - and I don't believe that all women are good mothers just because they have ovaries and a uterus. Some are more gifted and successful than others, and wishing it were otherwise doesn't make it so.

Anonymous said...

Staying at home is hard work, but you are your own boss. You can take care of your children as you see fit. I was in the career world for 13 years and when I left to take care of my children I've not looked back.