Time is a funny thing, isn’t it? We all wish we had more of it. It always seems to fly by when we want to stop and enjoy something and slow down when we just want to get something over with.
I used to think I was pretty good at multi-tasking, being super productive, and finding the motivation to always be doing something, getting something done. And then I had kids and decided to fulfill my lifelong (up to that point) dream of becoming a stay-at-home Mom. (Or SuperMom, as I like to think of it. Why hasn’t anyone written a superhero comic about this character yet? Oh yeah, maybe because the adventures of this superhero would include such unappealing things as changing more poopy diapers than you ever thought possible, finding a way to function on less sleep than any human being should have to endure, cleaning up messes as fast as they are made, juggling calendars and emotions without dropping the ball…hmmm, this might be the topic of my next post…SuperMom Saves the Day! If only I could draw comic strips…) But I digress…my point is that becoming a Mom has taught me that multi-tasking and productivity take on a whole other meaning when your daily goals and accomplishments include things like:
- How many diapers did I change today?
- How many loads of laundry did I wash, fold, and put away today? (Or, if you’re like me, the laundry gets washed one day, sits around in baskets on the living room floor for a few days, gets folded eventually, and then a day or two later it gets put away.)
- How many rooms did I vacuum today?
- How many dishes did I wash today?
I know, glamorous, right? And sometimes I find myself thinking that working moms have the better deal but then I realize that all of that laundry and cleaning doesn’t go away just because you are away at work. You just have to find a way to fit it all in during your limited hours at home. So, don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for being able to stay at home. I just constantly struggle with feeling productive and leading a meaningful life in the midst of the ever-changing face of stay-at-home parenting. And lately I’m finding that my role is changing yet again. There are no more poopy diapers to change (thank goodness!), the kids are getting older and starting to “help” with the household chores like feeding the animals and emptying the dishwasher and folding laundry (this is great as long as you can be okay with the occasional broken plate or the towels sort of rolled into a ball and shoved into the closet rather than folded neatly in a pile), the older two boys are in school for most of the day and even then youngest is in preschool four mornings a week. So life should be great, right? This is, after all, just what I have been waiting for. Haven’t I been counting the years and months until all three kids are in school and I can finally get some “me time” back and become the super productive hard worker that I used to be?
[I can still remember when my friend and I were running our personal chef service back before either of us had kids and we would talk about how we could feasibly, if not easily, continue to run the business after having kids because they would be in school all day and we could cook for our clients just like we used to and still be home in time to get them off the bus. I guess we forgot to plan for those first 8 or 9 years when we would be having and taking care of babies and toddlers and preschoolers.]
But, regardless, somehow I survived those years and have now arrived at school-age parenting. And, wow, this is way harder than I thought it would be. Once again. At the beginning of the school year, everyone was asking me, “what are you going to do with all of this free time?” I was at least wise enough to realize that the time would fly by but I still thought that I could maybe work on the blog one morning per week. Hah! I think this is my third blog post all year long. Not the shining example of productivity that I imagined I would be. So where is all this time going? Well, it turns out that you end up just doing the same things that you used to do but without the kid(s) in tow. For me, this means that I spend most of my mornings working out or running errands and grocery shopping or cooking or cleaning. And, don’t get me wrong, it is so amazing to be able to run into the store and pick up a few items without the hassle of unbuckling the kids from their car seats, walking ever so slowly across the parking lot while holding their hands, loading them into the shopping cart, keeping them entertained while you read labels and compare prices, enduring the inevitable checkout line meltdown, and then loading them back into the car again where you plop down into your seat and slump forward against the steering wheel and have a good cry. But, in the end, I don’t seem to be getting any more accomplished in a day than I used to. So, looking back, I guess I was really rocking the productivity as a Mom of three small children all those years. Woohoo! But now what? How do I find my new awesome in this stage of motherhood?
The kids don’t need me as much or in the same way that they used to and yet I always need to be nearby just in case they decide that they do need me – as a referee, or to give a quick kiss on that bruised knee, or to help them find an appropriate snack before they have a hunger meltdown, or to help them put back together the broken toy that their brother sat on, or to pick them up at school because they are feeling sick. I’m kind of like a Mommy 911 hotline that they can call on at any moment and I must be instantly available – ready to drop whatever I am in the middle of – and willing to help. This is way harder than it sounds. Especially because, with three boys, that hotline ends up being called on an average of every three minutes when they are all at home. And also because – as I mentioned before, I always thought of multitasking as one of my strengths – but I never tested out the multitasking ability to the point of having to constantly turn of the stove and walk away from it and still have dinner turn out the way I intended it to and also be ready on time. And I know that, as a Mom, I will always be needed by my children in some way and I hope that I can always be there for them. That is, after all, why I became a mother in the first place. I only wish that parenting came with that much talked about manual that is broken into different sections and tells you what to expect and what to do with each new age and stage. Because it usually takes me so long to figure out my new role that we are almost on to the next stage by the time I am really ready to deal with the current one.
Whew…I didn’t actually realize that I had so much to say about this topic or that this post was going to take this particular direction when I sat down and started typing. But, in an effort to just get back into blogging and not think so much about how to make it perfect, I might just leave all of these ramblings for you to read. (Sorry!) But I actually started this post thinking about time marching on…and how I want to work on enjoying the moment and the stage that we are in right now. I once read a quote that said,
“We all want more time with our precious children; it’s just hardly ever the time right now. The problem is, right now is the only time it ever is.”
To me, this means that I need to stop looking forward and wishing for more free time or wishing that I could rearrange our calendars or our lives to spend our time differently. I need to stop and appreciate the good in this stage before it is gone. Like the fact that I am occasionally able to get a full night’s sleep and even sleep in on the weekends now. Or that I have the chance to volunteer at school and attend field trips with the kids. Or that I still get the chance to kiss away those bruises and snuggle on the sofa and read a book with the boys. Or that they still allow me to hug them in public without pretending that they don’t know me. (Is that really going to happen? I hope not, I’m not sure if I can handle that!) Yes, staying at home with the kids has a certain set of challenges but the rewards are so much greater. So thank you for letting me use this blog as a way of reminding myself just how sweet life is and how lucky I am to be who I am and where I am and when I am.