i’m a bit of a perfectionist.
i realize you all have probably gathered that by now. i love lists, schedules, goals, plans, and stationery to record all of the orderly details.
i like things neat and minimal [though it doesn’t mean this actually translates to real life, of course]. i prefer single tasking to multi-, and for the most part simple to complex.
i enjoy routines and predictability, including rituals and even little micro-traditions, like singing annabel a song before bed each night.
* * * * *
before children, i could have all of these things. i had time to write down neat to-do lists every day, and actually get them done. i rarely felt a pull towards two activities at once — i didn’t always follow through on every ‘should’, but deviations were almost always of my own volition. there was no robbing peter to pay paul, so to speak. the biggest frustrations were things that were out of my control despite all attempts, such as the 2+ years i spent trying to conceive.
* * * * *
. . . and then there came annabel. life became far more complicated, but it was still clear most of the time what i ought to be doing. i still managed to carve out slivers of me-time within very full days: time to clear my head, process, and organize. i also managed to keep up with self-care routines that felt like musts to me at the time: running, peaceful writing sessions, and the like.
* * * * *
. . . and now there are 2. and even though i am incredibly lucky to have help for most of the time, i spend many of my hours feeling much more conflicted. i’m absolutely not doing it all. for the first time — perhaps in my life! — there are moments when i truly have to just bite the bullet and just SETTLE. hard.
in these moments, i couldn’t be perfect even if i wanted to. last night, i put cameron down and paid little attention as he grunted [not crying, but not happily cooing either] for some time while i got annabel ready for bed. this morning, i let him lie swaddled but squirming on a vinyl chair while i changed his big sister’s diaper. yesterday, annabel managed to eat some play dough right in front of me as i fed her hungry infant brother [i said, “NO!”, but she just gave me an impish look and chomped. ugh!].
i am letting annabel have — gasp — screen time before age 2. i have a babysitter lined up for a few hours BOTH days this weekend to help me [josh will be on call and therefore likely not home much if at all], even though it makes me feel inadequate to want this. and despite all of these compromises, i still think this is ($&@# hard sometimes, and yes — i spent time last night mourning a bit for the loss of my freedom for the next few years [or ever?] despite so much gained.
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is this what ‘survival mode’ means? in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty, it is also clear to me that there is still so much about this time to enjoy — yesterday, annabel and i baked scones together, something i had been looking forward to for months [if not years]. cameron is as soft and sweet-smelling as a newborn can be, and he is growing too quickly already — i think he may already have surpassed 9 lbs. things are changing every single day, even as i cling to the idea of a daily routine that is in many ways laughable.
i suppose the only answer is to work on letting go: releasing expectations of what makes a ‘successful’ day, and especially the idea of being a perfect mother/wife/woman/doctor/person. to accept each moment for what it is, and acknowledge the incredibly transient nature of babyhood. to revel in the sweet and find humor in the sour.
because i know that before i know it, i will be looking back with longing at this incredibly special time. and my memories are not going to include what was on my to-do lists.