We made it to the 6-week mark, yay! Like magic, life starts to get a little bit easier around this time (everyone tells me to hold out for 2 months). Bellamy sleeps so well at night, and I have been catching some solid Zs, too. However, good sleep doesn’t equal productive days, as I have started to discover.
I’m not sure why this happens, but I hear the same story from many moms on a guilt trip about not doing enough during the day while also caring for a newborn. Maybe it’s the concept of doing more and accomplishing more tasks we formerly lived by that still feels familiar to us post-pregnancy. Perhaps it’s impossible to turn that little switch “off” while on maternity leave (and beyond) and be content knowing we are caring for our babies in the best way we can. Whatever the reason, it can get the best of us. How many moms can relate to that crippling anxiety of being asked the question, “So, what did you do today?” Like deer in headlights I freeze while silently trying to recount ANY detail from the day that can be turned into something interesting to offer in conversation. My days are a blur! I usually struggle to piece my days together in a way that makes sense to the person inquiring. I usually just skip through the details and move on.
I frequently find myself discouraged with my days, not thinking I have much to show for them and feeling inadequate as a person in general. I shame myself for staying in bed too long, taking too much time to do simple tasks and wasting coffee every morning because I never get around to drinking it (maybe that’s the problem and solution all in one!). I don’t shower enough, look pretty blasé most of the time and resort to “grazing on snacks” and wine for dinner instead of actually cooking.
On the one hand, I know I have committed myself to not missing a single minute of Bellamy’s life as a newborn. I want to rock being a mother to her and own this season of my life, taking every moment as a keepsake and not for granted. On the other hand, I miss being productive and busy (the busy where you give yourself a pat on the back at the end of the day because you got so. much. done!). I miss running around like a crazy person and having an exciting schedule. What’s ironic is motherhood is running around like crazy and also comes with a pretty heavy schedule! For whatever reason, these two words feel separate, and the sense of accomplishment feels different, too—but why?
Although keeping a brand-new person alive should feel like enough, I know I am not the only person feeling down about the to-do list that sort of … sits there and mocks us. I took to Facebook to ask other moms about their experiences with being very busy as a parent, feeling lazy about everything else and experiencing frustration at the same time. Believing that calling yourself lazy is a lie and there is a balance to achieve at some point, I asked for their input on how to feel like a winner. I thought I’d share a few responses …
-Stay sharp: A friend of mine has found keeping her brain stimulated helps her feel a sense of accomplishment and progression in her personal life. She is a mother of two and stays at home. She suggests taking online courses in fields of interest, learning a new craft or taking up a difficult challenge. Her family recently moved to the Middle East, and she is currently learning how to speak Kurdish and Italian and how to sew! Many people referred to reading as a source of mental relaxation and a way to have a little “me time” that doesn’t end up being dominated by the dishes. I personally feel a sense of accomplishment after finishing a book, too!
-Baby-wearing: I am a HUGE advocate of baby-wearing for it’s many benefits of skin-to-skin contact between mother and child, but it also helps provide assistance in getting things done. Bellamy enjoys her wraps, and she will usually fall asleep in them, allowing me to have my hands free. It’s not the same as having your mind and body to yourself for a little while, but it definitely helps. I have had many long days of baby wearing when someone demands to be held and my type A personality can’t sit anymore!
-Scheduling: I will admit I have been awful with this. Aside from the bath, bottle and bedtime routine, we fly by the seat of our pants around here. Another mom I know has developed a schedule where she takes advantage of her son’s naps. She knows when she can do what, and sticks to it. She has even carved out a nap for herself in there, too. Go, mama!
Although I received some great responses, the advice was slim. I think this is an area where many moms struggle and eventually find their stride. I was advised to ditch the guilt and just soak up the sweetness as much as possible. I agree, but I think it’s easier to live the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” mentality when you are looking back. It’s hard to be still. It will forever be something I work on. I try to continually remind myself that I am doing a great job. When I think about it, whom am I trying to impress? If I am happy with my day, great! If I am not, then I have the ability to try and change things. I remind myself that God is my defender. I know not everyone shares in my belief, but for me, it’s a resting point for me to remember I am enough even on the bad days. One contributor said it well when she wrote, “When it comes to my babies, me doing ‘nothing’ is their absolute everything in life.” Thank you, moms, for everything you do—even when it feels like nothing. You are all winners!