What Can You Do?

Mary, over at Mom Writes, blogged about three things she can do that make her life easier and more pleasant, and her funny, useful list has got me thinking about how my expectations have shifted since having kids. There was a time when a productive day ended with half a dozen pages of my dissertation written (I was a slow writer), or a couple hundred pages of a novel read, or maybe twenty or thirty student essays graded. Those days generally included something homemade for dinner, a clean apartment, and time for a conversation with a friend.

My days don’t end like that anymore.

When I was first pregnant, slowing down and frustrated at how little energy (mental and physical) I had, Tony would remind me that my to-do list needed to shrink down to one thing: Grow the Baby. I was working full time until 3 days before Ben was born, but tried to keep in mind that the main thing, despite my colleagues’ and students’ demands, was getting through the day with the baby still happily inside. After he was born, my to-do list didn’t change much, of course. Despite how much else I might have wanted to do, I tried to focus on that one big check box: Grow the Baby. And he grew, and now he’s been joined by a little brother, and during the first few postpartum months last summer, I was generally pretty satisfied by days that ended with both boys still alive.

Now, however, they are big strong taking-care-of-themselves guys of one and four. Betweeen preschool and a babysitter, I can rely on 3 whole hours without them each week. I have ambitions, well, maybe just aspirations… a column to write, a book to edit. And some days, between those three hours and other random hours achieved when Eli’s naptime and Ben’s traintime magically overlap, by staying up till midnight even though Eli wakes up at 6am, by checking email on my way to the dinner table and reading essay submissions while brushing my teeth, I get some real work done. And some other days, instead of getting anything done, I just get slapped upside the head (metaphorically, mostly) for trying.

So I’m trying to focus again on the little things. It’s not quite Grow the Baby anymore, but the balance is still tipped in favor of the little guys for now, and that’s ok.

Meanwhile, making a list for Mary’s blog was a good reminder of three little things I can do that add some ease and some pleasure to this life: I can bake a loaf of bread without breaking a sweat; I can change Eli’s diaper without taking his legs out of his footie pajamas; and I can pick up just about anything with my toes.

What can you do?

One Comment

  1. Libby says:

    Hmm, I don’t think I could ever grade thirty essays in a day. Even twenty is pushing it.

    I’m going to think about this list some more, though. It will be fun!