Hey there, self. I want to remind you of a couple things this week. I think you could use it.
Girl, sit back for a minute. Relax.
Lets put to rest once and for all the dream (delusion?) of ever getting “caught up.” Do you remember lesson #1 from this post back when Isla was just a little 8 month old?
There is no such thing as getting caught up in this season of parenthood. Katie, hun (can I call ya hun?), you’ve got to tell yourself this until it sticks: Nobody is caught up and you aren’t behind. Let us deconstruct this impossible standard with a good old fashioned metaphor.
Take the highchair. Getting “caught up” at the highchair level would look like this:
1. Clean the tray as soon as Isla is finished smearing blueberries and yogurt all over it.
2. Wipe down the seat and every crevice that she dropped all of her avocado into.
3. Clean the floor beneath the highchair.
4. Wash sippy cup/plate/spoon.
5. Clean Isla’s face and hands.
This is totally realistic most of the time. Not always immediately following each meal, but usually most of these things can be accomplished before the next meal, yes? Congratulations! You’ve managed to get “caught up” by having everything clean and picked up and ready to go. Except that…in 3-4 hours, Isla will be right back in that same spot snacking on something even more crumbly/creamy/drippy/messy than before and it all starts back over.
Apply this to projects/chores you currently feel like you’re “behind” on. Pretend you actually found more time to sort through those clothes and purge Isla’s drawers more frequently (why is once every few months not good enough?). Again, congratulations! You did it. Now in 3 weeks it will need to be done all over again. You are not behind on this chore.
What about cleaning your floors? The mental to-do list you keep will forever have “CLEAN FLOORS!” at the very tip top. Remember how last weekend you vacuumed, swiffered, then went back again with the vacuum hose and eliminated every speck of dirt? Remember, also, how it took one grumpy breakfast with cereal bar crumbs going everywhere to dirty it again?
You can’t get ahead of floor-cleaning. It can’t happen. Not right now. Not with a 1 year old.
The folks who are far beyond this season of parenthood tell you to embrace the chaos and that you will one day miss it. The dirty floors, the last minute meal-planning (as opposed to the “Stocking Up For A Whole Month” that you have now pinned 3 times), the messy house, the cluttered drawers, and the lack of free time. The very things you pressure yourself to eliminate from the season where they most belong.
You won’t get caught up, and you can’t “arrive” to a place where your to-do list remains small and the free time abundant. This is a tough pill for you to swallow, I know, so I write to tell you to kindly continue reminding yourself that you are not behind. You’re exactly where you should be in this season of parenthood. Lean in to the chaos when you can. And model self-forgiveness when you are too hard on yourself.
I want to also remind you that there is no such thing as doing it all. There is no “finding the balance” when it comes to being a mom, being a wife, working full time, devoting time to writing a blog, occasionally cooking, resting, working out, etc.
When you see pictures of Jessica Alba smiling with her gorgeous family, accepting an award for creating natural tampons, know that that happened because she sacrificed time with her family during that process. She didn’t luck up on a magical balance that allowed for her to be with her kids all day, maintain that crazy awesome figure, AND throw herself into her super successful business. Something has to give. You know this. Don’t forget that nobody is doing it all.
The best part about the doubt pool you find yourself swimming in from time to time, is that Isla doesn’t see it. When she looks at you, she sees mama. She doesn’t see that you feel like a 12 year old kid sometimes at work because you’re surrounded by people who have been doing their jobs for 20 years. She doesn’t see that you haven’t lost all of your baby weight yet. She doesn’t think the floors are neglected and she most definitely doesn’t wonder why you’re so late to the essential oil game (wait, does she?).
She sees the excitement you show her every single time you walk in from work. She lights up because she loves you and knows you and wants you.
She feels all of the sugars on her face, even when they follow a diaper-changing tantrum. She is learning that you are consistent with your love. And that she can display the entire behavior spectrum and still is worthy of being hugged and kissed and comforted.
She knows her bed and her room and her house, cluttered or not.
She is so healthy and happy.
There will come a season where she no longer cares if you’re chasing her or holding her. At least not like she does now. That energy will go to her friends or, God forbid, a boy.
And Katie…hun, that will be the season to clean those floors and drink your coffee while its hot.
Try to adopt the hindsight you know is coming.