I didn’t get anything done today.
My “to do” list fell by the wayside when my 6-month old woke up from her nap ten minutes in and needed to be snuggled back to sleep. There I sat, trapped beneath a sleeping baby who may abandon the nap altogether if I tried to put her down again.
What did I do? I told myself that the laundry and vacuuming that I planned to get done could wait. I held my sweet sleeping baby girl (and caught up on some Call The Midwife on the DVR).
Due to my older daughter being born overseas, I was home with her full-time for the first 20 months. Once we came back to the U.S., I was lucky enough to be able to work (very) part time. This schedule has continued through the birth of our second, with intentions of increasing my hours this fall. I am home with her most of the time while our older daughter is in full-day developmental preschool.
One day my husband called me from work. I was home with both girls, which is when it’s typically more chaotic. (Spoiler alert: it’s harder to care for two children than one.) I have finally figured out that I really need to get my chores done in the morning because once #1 is home from preschool, most bets are off. Someone probably needs or wants me, and the idea of folding and putting away an entire load of laundry is laughable.
Back to the phone call: I think I mildly complained that the girls were being needy and that I wasn’t getting anything done. I don’t remember his exact words, but it was something along the lines of, “yeah, but one of these days you’ll look back and say, ‘Remember when I got to stay home with the girls?'”
I thought I was the therapist in this relationship, but he just threw a Cognitive Reframe at me that has stuck with me for weeks.
Yes, there are moments when I audibly groan or grumble.
Why can’t you just play with your toys for a few more minutes while I get this done? No, we can’t read Brown Bear for the tenth time, I’m cooking dinner. (I also often end up baby wearing while cooking dinner out of necessity.) Look! Do you want to watch Mickey Mouse?
But the truth is, these are just that–moments. By and large, I feel like I keep my cool and manage things pretty well. (Do not give me a third child and expect the same calm demeanor; also, check back in a month when school is out for the summer and it’s two against one all day.) Most days, I am happy and love my life. I have two amazing daughters and an intelligent, hardworking husband. We live in my dream home. (I’m in no rush to PCS.) I am afforded the luxury of not working full-time, so I can spend lots of time with the girls and not lose my mind about household chores and needs after putting in a full day of work. (I could write an entire post entitled, “I don’t know how working moms do it.”)
These are the good old days.
In a few months, while I will still be able to work part-time, I will have fewer days of “freedom” at home. I will have to budget my time better, both regarding household tasks, errand running, and quality time with my girls.
I will surely miss my mornings spent sipping my lukewarm coffee while watching The Today Show with my infant sleeping on my chest. I will miss the afternoons when I could play with my preschooler without that nagging, “you still haven’t cleaned the bathrooms” in the back of my mind.
On a positive note, we will have more income, so I can say “let’s order pizza or go get something” more often than I do now, and since I hate cooking, that’s a win.
I have tried to start taking more “mental snapshots.” To be honest it’s not really working.
I am not able to recall “that one time I was changing her diaper and she gave me an adorable smile and we had a moment.” But it is helping me to be more present in that moment. It allows me to appreciate the beauty of my normal routine. The snapshots are of bath time, getting ready for school, playing together, marveling at one of my girls learning something new, or just snuggling.
These are the moments when I’m simply living life with my two girls, not making monumental memories, but providing a happy childhood. These are the good old days.
I recently saw a piece on The Today Show about mommy burnout. One of the factors was that many mothers worry they aren’t doing a good job. I will be the first to admit that I am not a perfect mom. I phone it in when reading books sometimes; I am multitasking while playing; at times, I use the TV and iPad to entertain my kids; I let them fuss or whine because I do not have eight arms. I do not always address them in a Mary Poppins voice.
However, I don’t doubt that I am a good mom.
I am not the world’s best mom, but I am the best mom for my kids. I (usually) know what they want, and typically put their needs first. (Post about my failure in the “self care” department forthcoming.) But above all else, I love them fiercely. I have tons of happy memories from my childhood, but what I remember the most is knowing my parents loved me no matter what. Yes, plenty of my happiness was derived from the Barbie Motorhome I got for Christmas that one year, Disney On Ice, or family vacations. But more so, it was consistent family dinners and weekend morning doughnuts. It was my parents being at my sporting events, making my lunch, driving me to school, reading me bedtime stories and telling me they loved me. It is the snapshots of the mundane moments that make a child feel loved. Those were the good old days.