A collaboration between Boston Moms Blog and Leah LaRiccia Photography.
I remember “to-do lists” fondly — those things I added cute little celebratory check marks to as I completed each task. God, I miss check marks. I miss looking back on days and having concrete, tangible things to point to that I accomplished in a day.
When so much of your time is dedicated to taking care of the basic needs of young children, it can be nearly impossible to verbalize what you did on any given day. Like when you pick up a kid from school, and you ask them what happened in their day, and they say “nothing” or “played” or “my day was good.” This is the exact same “deer in headlights” zombie response I find myself giving my husband after a full 12-hour day home with kids.
Just like the action-packed exploratory world of a child’s school day, it’s not that we did nothing. It’s that we did EVERYTHING. Where do you even start? The days at home with young children can be so long and emotional, there is little energy left to re-live it in a small-talk format. Plus, there is usually nothing to point to on an ever-growing “to-do list” (missing the celebratory check marks). Rarely do you have those big memorable things happen, like first steps or the moment you first hear the word “mama.”
No, most days are just plain ordinary. And this is what has been on my mind lately — why can’t the ordinary things hold check marks on my to-do list? Isn’t it the ordinary moments that compile themselves day after day to wrap into the crazy extraordinary tangible things that I crave to make me feel accomplished? Like all those routine days reading the same book over and over again, and then one day my baby points to it and says, “bear.” Check. I taught my baby a new word today. All these ordinary moments are actually getting us somewhere.
So today, I can’t cross all the piles of laundry from my to-do list. But I can say that I blew 500 bubbles and laughed as my kid ran around like a maniac trying to catch them. Check.
I can’t say that I did flashcard exercises and taught my baby sign language, but I can say I protectively held her arm as she squealed joyfully down the slide that is really for the big kids. Check.
I can’t claim that I made any of the healthy recipes on my Pinterest board, but I can brag that my kids happily devoured their mom’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Check.
I can’t put check marks next to to all the errands or all the housecleaning, but I did a few things in their place. Tears were wiped away, colorful band-aids were applied, hugs were given, giggles were shared, spills were cleaned, and meltdowns were calmed (admittedly many times my own). We even got around to counting the inchworms and talking about our favorite birds. Check.
So tonight when I lay in bed and my thoughts inevitably turn to my endless lists — all the things I did or didn’t accomplish, or how I failed, or how I want to be a better mom tomorrow — this is the list I need to go back to. While I can’t really explain what I did today, there is one thing I know for certain. When the day is done, I loved them. If that’s all I accomplished, I’ll put a check mark next to a job well done.
Leah LaRiccia is a documentary family photographer based in Natick who is forever grateful that she got to turn her passion for photography into her job. She loves that her work lets her meet new people all the time, and she loves even more that these people allow her into their lives and trust her to tell their stories.
Leah met her husband when they were both living in New York City. She misses it terribly (mostly the food and theater) but doesn’t think she could live there again. Leah is mom (or “ma!” or “mommeeeeee!” ) to an amazing 4-year-old boy who is her best friend. They love to play good guys vs. bad guys, free build with “little Legos,” eat meals on their deck, and make each other laugh.
Leah’s been a Star Wars fan since she was little (before it was cool to be one), didn’t start baking until her 30s (and hasn’t stopped since), hates dressing up, and wishes everybody (including herself) would print more photos.