Saturday, August 6, 2016

What Being Behind Feels Like

I want to talk about something. Ever since I popped out a baby I've dealt with this nagging feeling of always being behind. Behind in dishes. Behind in laundry. Behind in washing my own hair. Behind in figuring out what I should cook for dinner.

I'm always behind.

And it bothers me. Every day I wake up wondering if I'll get anything done in the next 12 hours and every night I go to bed with a list of things I regrettably didn't get done. It's a cycle. I hate it.

So one day enough was enough and I strapped Reuben to me and tried to catch up. I did the laundry. I did the dishes. I figured out a meal plan for the entire week and even meticulously calculated a ingredient list. During his nap I swept the floor and picked up his toys and didn't spend a single minute sitting down and scrolling facebook or knitting.

And you know how I felt?

Exhausted. And also like a bad mom. Because instead of reading my kid a book I washed the dishes. And instead of singing him a song and sitting with him while he played blocks, I was hastily doing laundry. And instead of making sure I took some alone time for myself while my kid napped doing nothing and recuperating from chasing a toddler, I did more chores. Sure, my house was cleaner than it had been in a long time but my kid was a cranky mess from receiving no attention from me that day.

And instead of feeling behind and guilty that I'd gotten "nothing done," I felt guilty for putting chores and laundry ahead of spending special time with my son. I spent most of the day feeling anxious and rushed as I went from task to task trying to "get everything done".

Yeah. Screwed either way. Mom life is great, right?

I can't do everything and spend time with my kid. It just doesn't work. Also, I can't spend all day with my kid and think I'll get anything done at home. There has to be a balance. For my sanity and his.


I can do one or two chores and spend time with my kid and make time for myself. Little bits of everything. He won't die or grow up with isolation syndrome (is that even a thing?) if I play silly songs with Larry while folding some laundry and making faces at him. And I don't need to feel bad about getting a chore or two done and making my kid wait or play by himself, either. He is not my world. Chores are also not my world. I don't need to feel bad about it. It's okay. Different days bring different challenges and a revolving hierarchy of priorities. I repeat, It's okay. Breathe.

So I might not get my laundry done and the dishes done and the carpet cleaned all at once. But I can do the laundry and read my kid a book and write a blog post. We can live with that, right?

Little steps. No guilt. No judgement. He's happy and smiling. I made pancakes, we are all happy and fed here. The dishes can wait until tomorrow. I don't need to compete with the version of life in my head. I don't need to compete with my pre-baby self. Everything is new. I need to relax.

I'm not behind. I'm not ahead. I just am. And that's okay.