The song, Little Boxes by Malvina Reynolds has haunted me since the moment I heard it in college. It has since been made famous as some television show’s title sequence, but when I hear it, I can’t help but think about my life. I never wanted to turn into a little box.
In any given day, I am working very hard to meet the needs of my tiny yet bustling household; which includes my daughter’s health, homework and hygiene; the job, side hustle and lastly me. I sometimes surprise myself with the ability to do all of the things that could be someone’s full time job in addition to my own.
Still, Sundays make me anxious as I know there is laundry to be washed, folded and stored; floors to be swept and mopped, hair to be brushed and braided, groceries to be purchased and food to be cooked in preparation for the week. The work is sometimes overwhelming for one, but I have a rhythm. I have a routine; and though it has been hard-earned, I still feel that it is a gift and a curse.
The routine comforts me. It means that I have won at this part of life. I know the potholes on my route home, and I dodge them. I have favorite classes at the gym and servers that know my “regular.” I am supremely efficient. I can cook about five dinners without glancing at the recipe (sometimes three on a Sunday while doing laundry) and when she’s hungry enough, the kid eats them. We go to school, we go to dance practice, we go to church, we repeat. We are blessed and we are happy, but we are boxes.
Never wanting to seem ungrateful I fall into place; but, I am ever questioning, “What’s next?”
Just because I have been able to make the best of life, does that mean I have settled and that I should not imagine how much more awesome it could become? I am serving my ambition in bits and pieces on the side of other necessary tasks; should I be doing more? I feel as if I am giving my daughter a good life. She has a wonderful school and a beautiful village of supporters and friends; she laughs often. To chase my dreams do I risk one in the hand for two in the bush? If the pull of my ambition jeopardizes what seems like the good life –that I’ve worked so hard to achieve– what should I do with it?
It is not fear of failure for me alone that stops me from doing more. I certainly want to “leap and watch the net appear,” but what does that mean for my kid? Can she also see the net or will she only be scarred by the struggle? I want to move my ship out of the safe harbor, but am I enough not to disappoint my skipper? I am already under an immense amount of pressure to secure the routine and give her the good life that she has now. If I were to consider doing that on the steam of my ambition alone… well that terrifies me like nothing else in this world.