Before I had kids, the path I was taking to fulfill my ambition seemed obvious. I was working in my chosen field, and I was aiming to continue to advance in that field, hoping perhaps to achieve some level of visibility in the field at large. I didn't want to be world famous, but locally famous in my chosen field sounded nice.
Now, I find that my ambition has changed. I do not know whether or not this is a direct consequence of having kids. I find that I often need to remind myself that my life would have changed with time even if I hadn't had kids. It is not my kids' fault that I am getting old, so perhaps they are also not to blame for my more cynical outlook on my current field and my general weariness with the counter-productive rules by which most of the corporate world operates.
Whatever the cause, my ambition in my current field has shrunk. I no longer feel any urgency to advance to the next level- perhaps because that would just be the next rung up in middle management, and I have seen enough of middle management to know that it is a largely thankless role. Essential, but thankless. My current specialization does not lend itself to becoming a CEO of a biotech company, and while I am not sure I'd want to run a biotech, I am increasingly convinced that I'd like to run something.
Yes, I want to run a company- something that never crossed my mind ten years ago. So my ambition has also grown. I am no longer particularly interested in telling other people in my little field anything about that field, but I find that there are things I want to tell a much wider audience, and things I want to prove to the world at large. And there are still problems I see that I would like to help solve, they are just in different areas. I am, however, still ambivalent about the idea of general fame, perhaps because the world seems so ready to tear down women who succeed at anything other than being beautiful. In particular, the world seems to want to dissect successful women's mothering, and the thought of that just makes my heart hurt, for myself and for my children.
So motherhood is, in that sense, holding back my ambition. But in another sense, it is informing it, because if I examine my motivation for much of what I want to do, I find that one of my strongest motivating factors is that I want to make the world a better place for my children, and if I can't solve the problems in time for them, then maybe I can at least make some progress in time for their children. For one thing, I am pretty sure that the only way to shut up the petty jerks who snipe at mothers who try to achieve things outside the home is to just get out there and prove them wrong, and it sure would be nice if my daughters didn't have to think about this at all when they are contemplating what to do with their lives.
Besides, the fact that the world includes some petty jerks doesn't seem like a very good reason to stifle my ambition, so I continue to feel my way towards acting on it. I've had similar thoughts for awhile- I think this is part of what motivated the "life reorg" I undertook a while ago, although I fell victim to a real reorg before I could complete it. But I haven't really figured out what to do with my ambition, and how to make it fit with my desire to keep making enough money to enable our comfortable lifestyle. I guess in that sense, my attachment to our house and the occasional nice vacation is holding back my ambition, too.
I have the beginnings of a five year plan forming in my head, but it is not yet concrete enough to write down, and I'm certainly not ready to commit to it. However, I suspect it might do me some good to write down those of my various ambitions that motivate me most strongly, without trying to reconcile them with each other or the rest of my goals for my life. So here they are:
- Convince more people (a lot more people) that long hours at work do not equal productivity. Basically, I want to spread the message about how people have a work limit, and lure more people away from the false promise of spending stupidly long hours working. As I continue managing projects in yet another company, I am more convinced than ever that pushing people past their work limits just extends project timelines, as productivity plummets. I think that the idea that you will get more done by simply work longer hours is a myth, and one that causes a lot of misery.
- Prove that you can build a successful company that makes useful and/or cool products without sacrificing your life to it, or forcing your employees to sacrifice theirs. This is closely intertwined with my desire to be the boss of a company. It may, in fact, be the root cause of that desire. I haven't fully analyzed that. I do realize that this is not a particularly sound foundation for a company. I have some ideas about things my company could do, but since I am adamant about the idea that no one should have to sacrifice the other aspects of their life in the pursuit of those ideas, I would not pursue venture funding for them even if I were well-connected enough to be able to easily go about that. Venture capitalists have drunk the "if you work longer hours, you will produce more things" kool-aid, and I want none of that. I very explicitly want to prove that there is another way. (Incidentally, I am not the only one who thinks this- look at this post from the guys at 37signals, who are also apparently building their company around this idea.)
- Work to ensure that every child gets the chance to fulfill his or her full potential. This is an absolutely huge goal, with many, many facets, and I am in no way egotistical enough to think I can achieve all of it. Or even a tiny part of it, really. But I would like to make a noticeable contribution in this area. Which is completely unrelated to anything else I've ever done. I'm still thinking about how I might achieve this. So far, all I do is donate money to people I think are doing good work in the area. I would like to do more, at some point.
And I pace myself. My kids are still young enough to rightfully draw huge amounts of time and energy from me. I do not reliably sleep through the night yet, because Petunia does not. Both kids can still have an almost physical need for me and my attention that I do not think should be denied- rationed, maybe, but not denied. None of this detracts from my ambition, but it does impact the timing. I take a long view on my career. I am turning 40 this year. Even if I retire at the "usual" age, I have twenty-five more years to work. It has not yet been twenty-five years since I graduated from college, let alone graduate school. None of us really knows how much time we have to accomplish our goals, but I have no reason to think that I do not have plenty.
So I can afford to take it slow. Perhaps, if I did not have kids, I would accomplish in two or three years what I am currently hoping to accomplish in five. But so what? It seems unlikely that someone else is going to come along and accomplish the things on my list ahead of me- and if they did, I should rightfully cheer, because the world would be a better place for it, and I could find different problems to tackle.
Perhaps a purist would argue that I am sacrificing my ambition to my kids, but it does not seem that way to me. It would be easy to blame them for the fact that I am squeezing work on my nascent five year plan in around the edges of my life, but that would be unfair. If I wanted to do so, I could arrange my life such that I could pursue my ambitions with at least 40 hours per week right now. But that would require drastic changes to my life, which I do not want to take. Right now, the biggest impediment to my ambitions is money- I like having it. The only part of that I can lay at my children's feet is the fact that their day care is one of our major expenses. But in some countries, it wouldn't be. In some countries, preschool is a collective expense. So is the fact that so much of our income needs to go to day care an impediment to my ambition thrown up by motherhood, or by the society in which I happen to live?
Back in November, I wrote a post about being a feminist mother, which included some lines that really resonated with a lot of people:
"Somehow, the space in my life expanded to accommodate the demands of motherhood without crowding out the essence of me. I cannot explain it. During my first year of motherhood, I was sure it was not possible, that I was in fact being subsumed into this new mommy person. But I came out the other side wanting both to devote myself to my kids and to pursue my own goals with full vigor.
Perhaps that is the essence of what it is to be a feminist mother- the realization that your own goals can coexist with your love and absolute devotion to your children. Motherhood can grow your life rather than contracting it."
Those words are still very much true for me. In the comments, feMOMhist asked how I made the space in my life expand to accommodate motherhood without crowding out "me." I didn't know the answer then, and this post was my attempt to explore that a bit.
Unfortunately, I still don't really know the answer.
Perhaps the key is the fact that my ambition has always stemmed from a desire to leave the world a little better than I found it. Having kids has provided a few extra challenges, but also given me extra motivation in that regard.
Or perhaps the key is that my particular ambitions do not feel time limited, so I can absorb a slightly slower pace while my children are young.
And perhaps it is just something about me. Living any way other than the way I'm living right now would not feel like I was being true to myself. I do not need my career to go faster, and but I do not want it to go slower. I do not want less time with my kids, but I also don't feel the need to have more. My life can be chaotic and frustrating at times, but it is just right for me.
I suspect that it is a combination of those things, which makes my answer deeply unhelpful to other women, looking for the answer in their own lives. Or maybe it doesn't, because another way to look at my answer is this: listen to your wants and desires- all of them. Be realistic about what the alternative options really are. And then shuffle everything you want around like puzzle pieces until you find the arrangement that makes a pretty picture. It might not be the picture you thought you were creating ten years ago, but it is probably the only one that you can make with the pieces you have right now.
Don't worry about the fact that other people's puzzles look different from yours. They have different pieces. And stop worrying whether or not you have the right picture. If you've used all your pieces, chances are, you do.
What about you? Are you ambitious? Has your ambition changed with time and/or life circumstances? What do you want to tell (or show) the world?
It really bugs me that fatherhood + ambition has little negative feeling but women should not be ambititious because the kids suffer. It's just that as busy fathers need a wife that takes care of the daily chores, also busy mothers would need a house husband. All the men I know from work (IT) have spent their full paternity leaves at home and enjoyed it. Some would even stay home and let the wife work if they could live on her income alone.
Another comment on the length of the working day. According a study, Finns have a shorter working day than other western countries, 7.5 hours. We don't have long lunches and we don't wait for the manager to go home before ourselves. We work those hours and get things done. I like it!
Fascinating, thought-provoking post. Thank you.ReplyDelete
I've only one child so far and am wrestling with questions of how to recover some of myself and how to reconcile any longer term goals with all of his short term needs. It's great to see someone a little further on who seems to be making progress with these questions.
And I think you're spot on when you point out the long hours=better work fallacy.
I don't think motherhood changed my ambition. But I think turning 30 did. My childless academic friends have also slowed down some after age 30. There's something about getting out of one's 20s that makes one realize there is more to life than just work.ReplyDelete
Oh yes I'm still ambitious - but I am still really struggling with how to direct that ambition given my growing realisation that a) my career has slowed down b) I'm ok with it now, but not forever BUT c) I don't really know when I'll be willing to/able to ramp it back up again.ReplyDelete
The one thing I do know about my ambition is that I am happy to stay with the organisation I work for at the moment. Doing something that has a tangible benefit for society at large is really important to me - and providing water services certainly ticks that box. It is also lifestyle friendly (no culture of excessive hours) and I can see by example that it is possible to work less than full time and still have a meaningful job in management. (Not as part-time as I am right now at 40-50%, but certainly 75-80% of the 38hr work week)
I think I need to find a good mentor to help me work out a path forward so I stop feeling like I'm drifting. I used to scoff at 5 year plans - how was I going to know where I wanted to be in 5 years? It was *such* a long time. Now, it doesn't seem like that long at all.
I must be getting old.
Oh & @miolann - it bugs me too about the fatherhood & ambition having little negative feeling. It also bugs me that it's the 'default'. No-one expects a change in the fathers ambition after having children.
First of all - let me know when your business is up and running - I would love to work for you LOL.ReplyDelete
Second - I hope to someday also be able to rearrange my puzzle pieces - love that metaphore by the way. For now, I don't feel that I get enough time with my daugther, and there is really nothing I can rearrange in my current life to get that time. I am hoping that things change in that department. Namely, my husband needs to earn more! But for now, this is my puzzle, and I have to live it.
BTW - when will our kids sleep through the night?? I really feel like that is the biggest missing piece right now.
"one of my strongest motivating factors is that I want to make the world a better place for my children,"ReplyDelete
yes yes yes :) oddly enough like you motherhood has both expanded and contracted by ambition. I no longer feel driven to get the "big" job, logistically with kids it seems so "un-fun" now, but I feel even more driven to make major contributions to my field. I'd love to analyze why, but I must get back to the latter :)
I'm not ambitious at all. It's an oddity in my world. Becoming a parent just made me more aware of inequalities and random valuations of worth in all sorts of places. I want to be better than okay at what I do in my career to be helpful to the people seeking my services. That's it. Also, I wish I were a Finn.ReplyDelete
I have put myself on the mommy track. I like my job a great deal. I don't want to move up or get cross-functionally trained. I want to do the job I do (at which I am awesome, by the way) and be left alone. People in management seem to think that if you're not moving up, you're unhappy or unmotivated or something.ReplyDelete
Maybe I should tell them that I need to do a job at which I am fully trained and good because I still don't sleep through the night and have no plans of doing so for another 2 years (give or take a year).
Anyway, I used to be ambitious, but I'm just not professionally ambitious right now. I have a lot of balls in the air and I juggle a lot of things. I'd like to give more of myself in some areas (grade school parenting is really a lot harder than day care parenting, I have found) so there isn't as much time.
I used to want to run for public office (something local), but because of my family and my kids, I don't think I will do that until they are all adults, if ever, so as not to drag them into that (politics, even at the school board level, is brutal in Chicago). Priorities change.
My new ambition is to get a job working for you once you start up that company. I was actually thinking about this during my walk to work this morning - my ambition is to work at some worthwhile job, for a really awesome manager. I can do pretty much anything short of brain surgery, and I've noticed that the times I've been happiest have definitely corresponded with times when I was working for someone awesome.ReplyDelete
Is it bad that I seem to desperately want to hand over responsibility to someone else? Maybe just a sign of too much time spent mired in grad school where no one appears to care about what I'm working on except me. Or maybe it is a side effect of having a really really demanding little girl at home.
Love this post!ReplyDelete
For me, I think that there's something that's happened with ambition and motherhood, that's similar to when I went from one child to two. I didn't have less love to share once the second child came along--my capacity for love grew to encompass both. I was ambitious before I had children and while I worried that having kids would kill that drive, I think it magnified it. Yes, while the kids are small, it takes me longer to do things, but I want them done more. Make sense?
I never would have started my company if I didn't have kids. I would not be pursuing its growth as aggressively if I didn't have kids. Having children (or really deciding that I did, after all, want to have children) made me radically rethink my career plans. I chose not to enter a particular industry because it was not going to be a good fit for me personally, and part of that personhood was eventually going to become a mother. Since I've had children, my goals have become more focused and my passion for a) creating a product worth sharing and b) creating a working environment that is not all-consuming has only grown.
I think one of the few benefits of having kids so late (late, late 30s) is that I really can't "blame" my lowered ambition on kids. I was not placed on a motherhood track although I do think that managers worried at some point I would get pregnant. I did what I needed to do in terms of career and if I change, it's more because I'm ready for change rather than solely for kids.ReplyDelete
I think you should start a company that sells toys for princesses that like math and science. I'd invest!ReplyDelete
Wow, I must be in the minority here. My career ambition *completely tanked* when my daughter was born. For me it was a kind of "come to Jesus" moment (well, not really since I'm not religious!) about how there are SO many more important things to enjoy in life than stressing about my next promotion or political wrangling at work.ReplyDelete
Maybe it's because my field isn't about "bettering the world".
Yes, I know my current standard of living depends on a large household income, so we both work.
I *like* my job but I am nowhere near the *love* and *dedication* I had before kids.
Having a kid just woke me up to the fact that there are things in life I like a lot more than getting ahead at work, so I focus on those instead :)
Like SarcastiCarrie, I'd love to be left alone to do my job (well) but not everyone is willing to let me do that...
Thanks for the nice comments, everyone!ReplyDelete
@miolann- Americans could learn a lot from European countries about work and life, if we'd stop feeling so superior about our supposedly better work ethic.
@Helen- it took me a lot of time and thought to get comfortable in my "Me + mother" identity. How much effort that took was one of the biggest surprises about motherhood for me.
@nicoleandmaggie- exactly! I think sometimes we conflate the effects of passage of time with the things that were happening while the time passed. And of course, it is really hard to tease that apart.
@zenmoo- a good mentor is a great thing. I never found a single one- but I've been able to piece together ideas from several different mentors, and that has helped me a lot.
@Joanna- yes, I think I would get so much more done if I could just count on Petunia sleeping through the night. I think she's ready, but we can't keep her healthy! Or anyway, that's what I tell myself.
@feMOMhist- I love that you are finding your own way to your own type of "big" career. Big contributions beats big job in my book, any day.
@mom2boy, @SarcastiCarrie, @TodayWendy, @Anandi- I don't think there is anything wrong AT ALL with recognizing the limits of your ambition. That's sort of what I meant by the metaphor that we're all building our puzzles from different pieces. What matters is that you get to live the life that is right for you.
@Calee - "Yes, while the kids are small, it takes me longer to do things, but I want them done more. Make sense?" Makes perfect sense to me! I feel the same way.
@Laura- Interesting idea! I did briefly consider making my own "build your own princess castle" when I couldn't find the sort of toy I wanted for Pumpkin for Christmas. But I'm not sure toy design would play to my strengths!
@Anandi- from what I've read on your blog, I don't think I'd characterize you as someone who has lost her ambition. You seem more like someone who has realized she has ambitions in multiple areas. I'm thinking of your crafting, and the fact that you took that Mondo Beyondo class (or whatever it was called). But of course, I'm just someone reading your blog. You know best what you feel!
I think I am as ambitious as ever, maybe even more, since with maturing I became more confident than in my youth, so my appetites for success have increased.ReplyDelete
Having a family has required some alterations to my career, but not qualitatively. I wanted to be a prof at a major research university and I am. That is pretty great. :)
If a woman has no or little ambition and wants to devote herself to her family 100% and is happy, that's perfectly fine. But the best thing an ambitions woman can do for her family is to follow her ambition; I have some strong opinions on why, but I can't share them here because no matter how I word them they always come out like I am judging stay-at-home moms and that's not my intention... Let's just say I think it's important, for a number of reasons, for children (not to mention the moms themselves!) to learn that their moms have lives and worth in ways completely unrelated to home and childrearing.
I'm still struggling with the concept that I am ambitious - it never occurred to me until somebody said it last year.ReplyDelete
I have always chased 'interesting' work - I cannot stand being bored, and like to learn new things.
If anything, this has intensified since my son was born. If I must work, then it must be meaningful to me to justify the time away from him.
I am financially in a place where I could choose to shift to parttime, but i don't, because i find my current job intensely interesting and challenging.
More challenging on the weeks where we have disturbed sleep :)
Having said all this, it is only possible because I have found the child-care arrangements and support that I need. without that, my life would look quite different.
re: work hours & productivity, I just ran across this yesterday:ReplyDelete
I'm a stay at home mom. Had my son late (41) and had a rather organic "career" path prior to that, waitressed for years through college & after, then worked as support staff at a university in various depts. When I look back, I really wish I'd pursued graduate work, but my interests hadn't fully risen to the surface.
Since having my son, I've had issues with my energy, his health (chronic ear stuff), his intensity, and issues from how I was parented. It's been overwhelming, and with the help of a good therapist I've done amazing work, that wouldn't have happened (at least as quickly) without the triggers from my being a parent.
I need to get back to work as we've had to switch him to a private school and the cost is freaking me out. If you don't work (for pay) they impute PT income, unless you have an illness, are a student, are caring for other children, have a good reason for not pulling in some cash. I'm flummoxed as how to do it, and I feel a lot of shame around that.
We don't have any help from family, my husband's job is demanding so any care always falls to me. Kid's been ill or school closed for the past 2.5 weeks, so I've been w/him non-stop, and now I'm sick and exhausted. I can't imagine how I'd handle demands of a job in addition to what's on my plate already. And I feel like a big lame wimp, because you all are doing it, but I just can't push myself the way I used to.
After our experience with public school, I feel compelled to train the school district in Non-Violent Communication or the Nurtured Heart Approach or SOMETHING. I hate that the kids there are getting used to that type of treatment. Apart from the stress of feeling like I can't handle a "job", I *am* excited about figuring out what my next incarnation work for paywise will be. Like my therapist keeps reminding me, right timing is important.
I have issues about how work without pay is invisible when I've never worked harder in my life, gender issues, my husband is great, and picks up the slack when he gets home as much as he can, but that whole mental load piece is intense and not fairly distributed between us, and his work time is protected while my time would always come 2nd.
I feel like I've gone all tangent-y, but I've wanted to comment on past posts of yours around these issues for a while. I'm just going to blame it on being alone with a 6 year old way too much.
In my field (I'm an academic) I've heard it said that people don't hit their stride professionally until their 40s or 50s. I find this heartening - I'm in the slow period now as I learn my profession, but soon I'll be picking up speed. And it helps by the time I hit that phase, my kids will be out of the super-small, super-energy sucking stage.ReplyDelete
But your comments about wanting to start a business to show everyone about not crowding out life made me think of something that may interest you. Last autumn, I read an article about the Great Harvest Bread Company, whose co-founders are two Montana residents, and they structured their entire business around having huge vacations. They are really into having a big, fun life and a big business. It was inspiring. I don't know where I read the article, though!
Ah, I think this is it:ReplyDelete
The only thing that annoyed me about the article is that it was so Pete-centric, and one doesn't get a sense of Laura in the interviews. But in any event, fwiw.
Lisa- I can't write a long comment right now, because I'm at work and need to, you know, work! I'll try to come back and write more later.ReplyDelete
But I had to say now- I really, truly don't think that working outside the home as a mom is harder than being a stay at home mom. For me, it would have been the other way around- staying home would have been the harder thing. Working has one set of problems, staying at home has another. The trick is to figure out which set of problems you'd like to handle.
You may be surprised to find that having a job actually makes it easier to tackle some of the problems you're facing. I know that in my case, I find it much, much easier to handle my intense little almost 5 year old because I don't have to handle her intensity 24/7. If I were at home with her on my own for 2.5 weeks, I would be close to my breaking point, I think. Parenting an intense kid is hard work.
Also, please don't feel lame for being freaked out by it all. Change is hard. You'll be swapping one set of problems for another set, that's for sure. But trust yourself to find solutions to the new problems!
Well, after my son was born, I accomplish more in 6 hours than what I did in 10! He has made me so much better!ReplyDelete
Ambitionwise, I want to do the best in the time I get. And, surprisingly, it's so much more than I bargained for!
Would love to be a part of your company!!
Read peopleware. Awesome book!
Well, after my son was born, I accomplish more in 6 hours than what I did in 10! He has made me so much better!ReplyDelete
Ambitionwise, I want to do the best in the time I get. And, surprisingly, it's so much more than I bargained for!
Would love to be a part of your company!!
Read peopleware. Awesome book!
Oh, yes, when you start your company, let me know if you need a Chicago-based Tech Rep...or a Quality Assurance Engineer (or a destructive testing engineer). Or a Manager of Being Awesome & Compliance. I'm highly qualified for all of those.ReplyDelete
@Cloud - hmm, maybe you're right and I turned all that work ambition into what's-important-to-me-now ambition. I like the sound of that :) I'll need to post about this when I'm in less of a funk. Thanks :)ReplyDelete
Motherhood radically changed my ambition, but it didn't lessen them. I don't know that I would have launched my own law firm otherwise, but I was seriously motivated about being in control of my own productivity (and having children). I still work as hard (probably harder) then I did as a Big Law lawyer, but my work life balance is awesome now and the way I practise now matches my values (ie. I do value based billing rather than the usual hourly billing that gives many lawyers a bad name). I think motherhood helped me realize that I had better love what I do if I am going to be spending the time away from my children and I really need to work in a way that aligns with my value.ReplyDelete
One thing that bothers me is that when I speak to people about starting my own firm, I sometimes get treated like I was 'forced' to start my own thing because I couldn't hack Big Law. I really resent this because it couldn't be further from the truth. Also, this is not a hobby that I run out of my basement - giving me something to do while the kids are out of the house. I have a lease, employees, significant revenues and commitments (frankly, better than any of the men I know who have hung out their own shingle). But because I am a female start-up, I get spoken to in really patronizing ways.
Sorry for the tangent. I am loving what I am doing now, and I am really proud of what I have accomplished so far (and I am pursuing growth aggressively) and it p*sses me off to hear some of the unbelievable ass-umptions people have made about what I am doing.
@GMP- yes, it is really hard to speak honestly about reasons for being a working mom w/o offending anyone. I've found that out the hard way several times! But I think I know what you mean, and may even post on something similar sometime soon.ReplyDelete
@Anonymous- YES. Good child care arrangements are key. It really sucks how much this depends on money and luck in the US.
@Erin- I saw that article, too! It was in one of my weekend reading posts. I think it was the "men write about work life balance" one, but I'm too lazy to go check. I remember being intensely jealous of their company culture. If (when?) I get around to the "start my own company" ambition, I'll have to re-read that and think hard about the culture I want.
@Layla- I look for that book. Thanks for the rec!
@Jac- that is AWESOME. You go. And I agree, the assumptions about why women start their own businesses are incredibly sexist and annoying.
One thing... having a child actually increased my ambition in the short term. I felt like if I could give birth I could do anything. So I lost a lot of my fear about talking to famous people in my field and stuff. But still, after turning 30 a lot of that drive lessened and I started up non-child hobbies again.ReplyDelete
Kids didn't change my ambition. My goal has always been to work as little as possible then retire early and travel a lot. The kids only get in the way of travel, or rather change the way we travel.ReplyDelete
@Jac - What @Cloud said! Rock on. Glad to hear opening your own firm has been a success!
@Hush- the fact that I also love to travel and want to do more of it is one of the competing things that I have to figure out how to make fit with my ambitions. Look at that, yet another thing that is holding me back from achieving my ambitions but that has nothing to do with motherhood!ReplyDelete
For me, my 20's were about milestones and reaching that next level as quickly as possible. I did get to a point where I was working around the clock and got rewarded with my awesome performance with drum role please....more work. That to me was my life changing moment, not the decision to have children. Companies will suck every bit of life out of you if you let them and what do you get in return? That sense that it's still not good enough and you should be pushing yourself to do more.ReplyDelete
After that, I took a new role and dropped off the fast track and had my first child. I still keep a crazy schedule but work only gets a piece of it now. Making the world a better place gets a much bigger bite of my time.