Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lessons, Part 6

On productivity... (who has it easier?)

Here is the thing. I read (past tense) all those articles where moms explain to their single/non-parent friends about how busy their lives are. You know, the ones with the "day in the life" play-by-play. Or the memes with "what my friends think I do" showing the romanticized view of motherhood and then the scary photograph showing what her actual life is like.

If there is one thing I can do, I thought, it's "busy."

When I was a student, I swore I'd never forget how challenging that phase of life was. Not in a real world sort of way, but in an exhilarating, chaotic, sleepless, ramen-noodle sort of way. I miss it, but it was hard.

So then I waited for the stable (if grueling) 9-5 work-week to begin.

Nope. Instead, I moved to a big city in Russia. The sleepless part was there again, but without the fun dorm life. I eventually made friends, but we all lived in different parts of the city. My work consisted of commuting 4-5 hours a day, also to various parts of the city, interacting with lots of different people, in a different language. Coming home at 11 pm, eating dinner, etc. And now I'm 30 and I'm tired, which sounds funny, but if you lived in such a city that never slept, you might get what I mean.

So now there's a baby. Notice I skipped the "now there's a husband" part...well, he's pretty easy-going. :)

Before the baby came, I was getting ready for the all-day marathons that other mothers write about. I figured I would be pretty good at the sort of high-energy, constantly active lifestyle that they seemed to hint at. But I guess that is more typical of the soccer-mom life when the kids are in school.

The first year is actually far, far different. One day recently I was sitting there in my pajamas at 1 pm. And I hadn't done very much. I think I had changed two diapers, fed David a bunch of times, and had breakfast. There really hadn't been any big spills or other crises to deal with...just your typical slow morning.

It seems like the new mom's "not-done" list is a lot longer than the list of things she's actually done that day. Things keep getting bumped off my "must" list and onto the luxury list for if the baby naps. Things like brushing my teeth, combing my hair, washing the dishes, and getting dressed. And then there are things like making phone calls/answering correspondence... those get put off for months at a time.

I'm pretty good at stacking the dirty dishes neatly, and then my mother-in-law washes them the next time she comes over.

I guess what I am trying to say is it's different from how I expected. I thought I would be running around doing things all the time, and instead it's lying on the floor with the baby because he wants to play with his toys with one hand and my hair with the other. Or finally remembering to hang the laundry at midnight. Or lingering at the dinner table with my husband, finishing a movie while feeding the baby.

There isn't more to do than there was before. I would say that there is less to do, because I'm not getting up every morning to pack my bags and run around the city all day. It is a great relief to go to sleep each night knowing that the next day I can stay at home with my family. There are a few new tasks related to the baby, and those need to be repeated fairly often, and I don't always get to do other things in between. It's a different pace, and it is slow, but not necessarily predictable. Much depends on expectations and flexibility.

5 comments:

  1. It is a different place...I think the slowness has to do with the fact that it's the first baby though, so you can just lie on the floor all morning with him if you want...I think it will be much different with another child added to the mix, having a busy toddler AND a baby! That will be fun too, but I think there's something special about the first child and the devoted time we have to spend with him.

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  2. That's true, I suppose. But you would still have the breastfeeding. It's never really in my PLAN to lie around on the floor, and I must admit I'm not always thinking about "quality time"...more that I give up on juggling and pick whatever can't wait, which is taking care of the baby. :) I've never really gotten the hang of doing housework and baby care at the same time.

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  3. When I am home with Monnie, I am always also planning to GET A LOT DONE! Ha! She wants to be held....and of course, I want to hold her! I don't get to be with her as much as I like, anyway.... Sometimes she will sit in her bouncy chair and "help" me make dinner, or I'll lay her in the pile of dirty laundry and she'll keep me company as I fold clothes....but really - I can get almost NOTHING done. My house has NEVER been in such dreadful shape!

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  4. Same here. Well, I'm not the tidiest person in general, but babies add new challenges in that area.

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