Ravenclaw, Ambition and Family Life

J and I are 31, which means we were about Harry Potter’s age when the books debuted, although we were engaged and 21 when his story ended. It’d be an understatement to say that the books were a big part of our adolescent years, and we’ve known for certain that ours was a mixed marriage from the beginning: an ISFJ Hufflepuff to a handsome ENTP Gryffindor.

Except, we recently took that 20th anniversary Time Magazine Sorting Hat Quiz and both got Ravenclaw.

Wait, what?

Neither of us would describe ourselves or each other as particularly ambitious, we admitted, discussing the highly scientific results as we walked the kids to the park after dinner on a recent evening. Geeky, sure. Bookish, each to our own varying degrees. But aren’t Ravenclaws supposed to be pretty driven?

I mean, maybe in college. J double majored in math and computer science and racked up accolades racing bikes. I nerded out on Great Books and English lit, and for awhile, entertained ideas of a PhD in English.

But these days? Not really. I wrote a friend recently that I particularly value jobs with very low stakes. I’d love to someday to work another Tiny Job, and I found teaching at homeschool co op last fall to be surprisingly rewarding. But I made it clear in grad school and to my library directors that I had no real ambition to join their ranks someday, and it would be a-ok with me if I never worked a traditional 9-5 job.

J, on the other hand, is absolutely terrific at his job, best I can tell, but chose a job based on work-life balance and geography, not prestige, and doesn’t intend to job hop if we can possibly help it. He tries to do enough to do right by his colleagues and students, but doesn’t obsess. I love that about him.

On our walk, J pointed out he’d been reading a biography of Eli Musk, and could see how he’d love that kind of intense work environment if he didn’t have a family. Sure, I agreed. When I was applying for Tiny Jobs and awaiting Pippin’s birth, I’d often come across 40-hour youth services library jobs that appealed to me — if I wasn’t already expecting a rather time-consuming tiny human.

Ultimately, we decided our ambitions have just shifted as we grew older. We’re not go-with-the-flow on everything: we know what we want for our family, and work for it, from building a family culture to enduring long seasons of illness to welcome tiny new members. We try to be deliberate about all our choices: whether to continue being a one-car family, how to arrange bedrooms in our house, how to steep our family in faith. That means toning down some of the other outlets into which we’ve traditionally poured our energies. It’s not Hufflepuff peaceableness or Gryffindor careless bravado, but selective Ravenclaw ambition after all.

So, hello, fellow Ravenclaws, I guess.

Drinking my daily Ensure while morning sick and nursing because ONWARD AND UPWARD
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Author: Katherine Grimm Bowers

Babies. Books. Fledgling housewifery. Once and future librarian. Catholic. Always thinking about chocolate ice cream.

7 thoughts on “Ravenclaw, Ambition and Family Life”

  1. Ravenclaw doesn’t surprise me at all for either of you! Dan is a Ravenclaw and I love it. I’ve never gotten anything other than Hufflepuff though and I’d be really upset if I did tbh. #identitycrisis

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  2. I have to say, I really like that test. It’s hard to fool it. It also placed me as very solidly Ravenclaw. I am not at all surprised by that. It’s what I generally get.

    I had never honestly thought of Ravenclaws as ambitious. I mean, I suppose I can see it. I’ve never really thought of myself that way, but I guess when homeschooling 3 of 4 children, that can be seen as an ambitious undertaking! It’s funny how I’d never thought of it that way. I always thought it suited me because I tend to be very bookish.

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    1. Yes, I think most sorting hat tests let you game for if you want or don’t want Slytherin, at least, though I suppose in the Hogwarts universe that’s fitting because your preference does count!

      I think raising four kids at all is ambitious 🙂 (I may be on the same path, though I have to see every pregnancy as my last in order to survive!)

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  3. I took it and am a ravenclaw too 🙂 I just finished Middlemarch and this post reminded me a lot of themes in it–shifting ambitions and shifting perspectives on what it means to live a fulfilling life. Also, I’m leaving my very chill Tiny Job for good in a few weeks and I’m already feeling nostalgic for it.

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