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"What I've learned about new motherhood? Time is not on my side."

by Guest Blogger on January 30, 2013

Today’s post is the third in a series by guest writer Tragic Sandwich. You can read the first two posts in the series here.

time flies, clock hands close-up

Time is of the essence. Tempus fugit. One thing’s for sure–time is not on my side.

Before Baguette was born, I heard horror stories about how long it could take to get a baby out of the house. I checked and re-checked her diaper bag half a dozen times in the days before we wound up going to the hospital for her birth. I was prepared.

And as it turned out, most of the time, getting out of the house wasn’t so bad, as long as I gave myself a little bit of prep time. (Mind you, there were plenty of times we turned around at the door to change a diaper one more time before leaving.)

Even once I went back to work, I developed routines that helped me stay on track. Over the weekend, I set out Baguette’s clothes for the next day. I try to cook at least one big meal so that there are some leftovers as the week progresses. I get her bag and mine ready the night before.

But that’s the routine. I can do routine. Variations? That’s a whole different story.

You’re having a birthday. Did I RSVP to your party? Probably not. It isn’t that I don’t care, or that I don’t want to let you know whether I can be there. It’s that I needed to check with Mr. Sandwich to see if he had any plans for that weekend, but I lost control of my email. Oh, and your card is going to be late. Happy Birthday!

That book everyone is recommending? I went to Amazon, put it in my shopping cart, and never actually bought it. I will notice this in a week, after wondering why the package hasn’t arrived.

I wasn’t always like this. Yes, my desk was always covered in paper, but I always knew exactly where everything was, and I never missed a deadline. And believe me, not sending RSVPs was one of my pet peeves. I know exactly how annoying this is.

It’s just that between a full-time job, a long commute, and a small child who Will. Not. Sleep, I find myself responding in the moment. I can click “Purchase” in an hour or a day or a week. Baguette has stubbed her toe right now. I need to stop her from exiting the house via the dog door right now.

I don’t like it, either. An awful lot of the time, this new tendency affects others and not just me. I’m very aware of that.

But just as it wasn’t always like this, it won’t always be like this in the future. I know that because of how many other things have changed.

That big meal I cook on the weekends? A year ago, I couldn’t do that. Baguette needed too much attention for me to plan and prepare food on a regular basis. Today I can use the slow-cooker. Sometimes I even get to use the stand mixer.

We went through a long period when we didn’t firmly commit to anything, because we didn’t know what would happen from one day to the next. Now I accept invitations based on how many other things are on the calendar, and whether the event is in the afternoon (and therefore likely to conflict with the nap that Baguette may or may not take).

Someday, Baguette will be better at entertaining herself. She won’t always need a nap. Maybe–just maybe–I won’t always have this commute. And that will mean that I can use my time in different ways, and base our schedule on different criteria.

So if you’ll bear with me for the moment, I’ll probably seem much more responsible in the future. In the meantime, I have to work with the circumstances I have, and I’m doing the best I can.

We all are. Let’s be a little more forgiving of ourselves. After all, it’s only a phase.

Photo: tyo on Flickr, via Creative Commons license

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Debra January 30, 2013 at 9:26 am

So true, I constantly find myself not getting back to folks because I need to check with the Hubs and then forget to actually do it. I hear it gets better as kids age, but I think there will always be a part of forgetfulness in me – there is way too much crammed up in my head as a mom!

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Tragic Sandwich January 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I think we all have too much data! I love hearing about tools other moms are using to help with that; somewhere I’ve got an article bookmarked, and I really do mean to read it. :)

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Kristin January 30, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Love this, and I think it’s great to try to reflect back on a year ago or even 6 or 3 months ago to remember how far we’ve come and see what now we can do.

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Tragic Sandwich January 30, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I totally agree! It’s so easy to get caught up in the current moment and lose track of the progress.

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Nina January 30, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Letting go of old standards has definitely been key in accepting this new role. Chores, errands, etc. are a bit different now than they were pre-kids. I do have a to-do list which has helped me tons. I don’t feel bad if not everything has been accomplished, but I do like putting things there just so I don’t forget.

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Tragic Sandwich January 30, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Prioritizing really is key, both in setting standards and in identifying accomplishments.

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Meagan Francis January 30, 2013 at 8:40 pm

I feel like, JUST NOW, after fifteen years of parenting, I’m finally starting to be able to do basic reasonable things like respond to a birthday invitation on time or actually get a field trip form in without “nudges” from the teacher. Having school-aged kids and babies/toddlers at the same time was so brutal to my brain, and I always felt like I was drowning. I’m slowly getting on top of things now, but it’s still a bit of an uphill climb!

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Alexandria January 31, 2013 at 9:36 am

Priorities, priorities, priorities…

I *totally* understand when you have babies. Hormones and lack of sleep – I give anyone in that stage a WIDE pass.

BUT… I have a friend who has not outgrown this stage with much older children and it drives me NUTS! I did not know her before kids – maybe she was always very scattered. What’s clear to me is she lacks basic priorities. I was dumbfounded when she told me she did not have time to ever write a thank you note BUT the same day she told me she had never bought lunch for her kids at school, and was asking me about it. I think maybe she never took the time to figure out the logistics (she did not seem opposed to it and I know money was no object). All I could think was, “You don’t have time for ANYTHING but you make your kids lunch every single day? OMG.” That was just the first time I noticed the lack of priorities. Her house also has to be immaculate and any time we are invited over it is a 5-course meal. But they forgot to register their younger child in time for the school with the 300-kid waitlist. I will tell you this much, I don’t make my kids lunch every day, and my house is not immaculate, but my SH%^ gets done. !! {I also generally do not volunteer for anything – a full-time job and being a parent is PLENTY. If you don’t have time for anything, you should probably not be adding a whole lot of extra stuff to your plate}.

One tip – anything that can be done very quickly – just do it right away. If I put something aside it will never get done. So that is my basic rule for staying top of things. & if I need to meet a deadline to make sure my kid gets into school, I will write it on my forehead. LOL. But like I said, if you have a baby, forget about all of the above. I am all for surviving…

@Meagan – I think this blog speaks a lot to letting things go and learning how to prioritize – so I think that is awesome.

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Tragic Sandwich January 31, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Well, she obviously does have priorities–they’re just very different from yours! If she’s spending her time and effort on cleaning and cooking, then those are her priorities. But I totally agree that it’s irritating when someone can’t recognize how their own actions and decisions affect others!

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Meagan Francis January 31, 2013 at 5:19 pm

I really do think that there are priorities other people have that we will never be able to understand. And a lot of that, I think, comes from our own backgrounds and the values we grew up with. If your mom, for example, would NEVER let you get away with not writing a thank-you note, then you’re more likely to grow up with that attitude, too. But if your family was more casual, it becomes easier to let those things slide, especially as more and more the culture around us seems to grow more casual. In the case of your friend with the lunches, it’s possible packing healthy food is her absolute #1 priority and she couldn’t understand anyone choosing differently! I think that it helps when we realize where people are coming from, and ask ourselves why something seems so ‘off’ to us.

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Meagan Francis February 1, 2013 at 9:47 am

Just thought of one other possible explanation for chronic note-forgetters. I think that for some of us it’s easier to deal with the things that are right in front of our faces – whether that be feeding the dog or cleaning the house or whatever – than to remember the things that are out of sight, like school events, permission slips, etc. I know I’ve had to make a real effort to re-train my brain to handle all those little details of life (the thank-yous and RSVPs and things) that aren’t jumping up and down in my face, screaming for attention like the house and kids always are. So it could be simple disorganization. I think what counts is when you are actively trying to do better at those niceties/manners and not just blowing it off because “I’m way too busy for THAT.” I’m willing to forgive almost anything as long as people are coming at it from an attitude of trying and working to do better, you know?

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Amber February 3, 2013 at 11:44 am

My kids are now 8 and 4. I found that learning to cut myself some slack, letting some stuff go altogether, and establishing routines for the stuff I really want to do has been key. There are still things that slip under my radar, but I’m much happier in general now that I’m not trying to do so much, and I can usually finish the stuff I am doing.

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Tragic Sandwich February 4, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Oh, yes! I’ve found knowing my own limitations, even if they’re only temporary, to be key to my peace of mind.

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Lisa @ The Meaning of Me February 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Great way to look at this phase of life (and it really is, isn’t it?). We do the best we can in the moment and have to be able to forgive ourselves and accept ourselves. Reality is what it is. And it ain’t a bit like any of us imagines before this thing called parenthood actually happens.

We’ve been just where you are – forgetting if we RSVPd to something, finding it takes three times longer to get out of the house with Kid in tow than without ever did. And the whole not committing to anything stage? Yup, been there done that, too. I can tell you, though, that when ours definitively moved out of nap stage, it was really freeing. Suddenly, the ability to go places and do things did not revolve around afternoon nap time and many things changed. Only real problem now is that her preschool requires them to nap for an extended period the afternoon and she wants none of it. Sadly, they won’t allow her to sit and read quietly or something during that period – only nap or lie on the mat quietly. Really tough scenario there.

Great post, as always!

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Tragic Sandwich February 4, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Baguette hates to nap (well, at home, at least–apparently at school she’s a champion napper). But I think we’ll stick with them for as long as she gets them at school, for consistency.

I’m already aware of how much easier it is to work around one (mythical) nap than it was around two–I’m definitely looking forward to when she no longer needs them.

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