If you have Type A tendencies like me (and I’m sure you are happier if you don’t) then you know that the transition to motherhood was jarring. Not because it was hard to have a baby, although it is, but because suddenly the ability to control every little thing was a distant memory. Or rather, we came to realize that we never could, can’t, and never will be able to control everything though we might give ourselves hernias trying.
I look back on the days when I could accomplish so much in so few hours with some nostalgia. The done section of my to-do list is so much shorter now, even when I know that I was extremely productive on any given day. To help nurture my ever-evaporating sanity and to come to terms with my season of life, I have had to redefine progress in my life.
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1. The setting isn’t the same.
I’m not a lone adult with endless time to look after my own needs, wants, desires, whims and fancies. If I feel like a leisurely and spontaneous run or going to the coffee shop to sit and read for an hour or two, well, I laugh. I laugh because it just ain’t happening. Sure, I can plan those things into my week, but with small humans to look after most of my spontaneity (let’s be honest, I didn’t begin with much) has gone by the wayside.
I am a stay-at-home mom who also works a few hours a day. I have children who still take long naps. It is neither relaxing nor enjoyable to take four children 4 years of age and under to a coffee shop when they don’t drink coffee, care about reading a newspaper or value other’s desire for silence. Redefining progress now means realizing that the setting and the situation are different now than they were 4 years ago in my life.
Read: Stay at home mom resume
2. Children move at their own pace.
This morning we were doing chores. By that I mean I was vacuuming, one was pretending to use the dustpan and sweep, and the other was dusting the carpet. I laughed a bit because I genuinely expected them to just do the chores I’d assigned them without help or supervision. I quickly realized that the fact they were even lingering around was good participation on their part and so I helped them do their jobs and we moved on. Today, progress was not that my 4 and 3 year olds successfully dusted and swept, but that they were willing to help. They will learn in their own way at their own pace, I am simply in charge of giving the opportunity.
3. Capacity has changed.
I keep thinking I’m pregnant again because I’m so tired (I’m not). 3 out of 4 are sleeping through the night and I even take a 20 minute disco nap in the afternoons and yet, I am exhausted. Being a tired mom is hard work. Since I’m exhausted and there are so many hours in the day, my capacity has changed. It isn’t that I’m able to get less done, per se, but the things I do get done require more emotional and mental energy than before.
This is even outside of the home. Playing with my children, being with them, watching them, cooking, keeping the house clean (again, redefining clean) and working a few hours a day pretty much takes up my available capacity. I still need a few hours to unwind and refresh.
- pinpoint an issue
- draw out how it’s affecting you
- label what you don’t like about it
- determine areas of responsibility
- figure out how it’s showing up
- say what you’d rather happen
- brainstorm solutions
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4. The virtue is in the mean.
I believe it’s Aristotle that said that the virtue is in the mean. Meaning, some days we feel like Super Woman and some days we feel like Horrible Woman, but really, on average we are doing pretty good. In the past almost everyday was a day where I’d pat myself on the back for accomplishing my goals and crossing off my to-do list. Now, if I do 75% of my to-do list then I feel good and my to-do list is half as long as it used to be. But, on the whole, I am going somewhere.
I am meeting my family’s needs. I am raising children who are a pleasure to be around. I am feeding, clothing and nurturing small humans. Some days are bad. Some days are great. On the bad days I don’t think that I’m a failure at life. On the bad days I look to the good days and remember, the virtue is in the mean.