I’m starting this post while my baby is napping. I guarantee that in about five minutes he’ll wake up and I’ll have to continue later. I’ll make notes to keep my place. It may take me several days, but I will finish the post. Writing, unfortunately, is a “while he’s sleeping” activity. This time is precious and limited, so I’ve got to prioritize what I get done.
Since my second child was born, my life has become divided into two kinds of tasks. Those I can do while watching my baby and those and I can only do when I’m free. The former category includes things like dishes, laundry, cooking, talking on the phone with friends, grocery shopping, long walks, etc. The latter consists entirely of things which require undivided attention such as reading, writing and yoga (that whole “doing yoga with your baby at home” thing is a myth. Sorry to say).
My brain is a ticker tape of priorities and to-dos, ever shifting to accommodate new information and the changing whims of the kids. I tend towards organization, but this is a whole new level. I feel like the mothering hormones have rearranged my brain, optimizing my ability to keep my children fed, clothed, rested and learning. The result is that I don’t really have time to think about whether or not I want to do something. If there’s an opening, I take it. It’s true what they say: if you need something done, give it to a busy mother.
When my son was born, I knew things were going to get more complicated, but I didn’t really know how good I’d had it before. I already had a kid, after all. It wasn’t like I had unlimited amounts of time to pursue my hobbies and see friends. But looking back, I had SO much time. What the hell was I even doing with all that time?! This, coincidentally, is the exact question I asked myself after the first one was born. Now, I flit ceaselessly from one thing to the next. Until I have a miraculous moment of free time. Then I panic.
What to do, what to do? When I have an entire hour to myself, my mind melts with the overload of possibilities. Should I read or exercise? Should I get a pedicure, or even go shopping for (gasp) clothes that fit?! The options are too many, and more often than not, I become completely paralyzed. When I eventually choose an activity, I don’t enjoy it as much as I should. These days, all my free time is riddled with guilt. I have time to write this blog, for example, but there are a million other more useful things I could be doing. Guilt.
Now that I’ve gotten better at juggling all the things my kids need, I have to start adding myself in to the mix. I’m starting to carve out dedicated time to go to yoga or have wine with friends, and that’s a solid start, but I’m still spending too much time feeling bad about doing anything remotely selfish. Taking time to care for myself and have fun is crucial, though. I’m happier, healthier and a much nicer mommy and wife when I do. Writing this blog is one of many early attempts to get back to writing for fun. Hopefully, with time and a bit a practice, I’ll be able to do it more often without the hangover of guilt.