I am lucky enough to be married to a man who has never once come home and asked me what I did all day. This could be because he values his life, or it could be because I’m a bit of a crazy person when it comes to “accomplishing things.”
Babies didn’t even slow me down that much. Sure, I cut down to “part time,” but part time was still two, sort of three, jobs and trying to start my own business. The house remained fairly clean. I kept showering. I ran a half marathon to lose the baby weight. Sitting still is not a thing I’m particularly good at.
And I’ve managed to cling to at least shades of that lifestyle until recently. My first has always been a wonderfully independent player. I could always set him down with some blocks and spend the next 45 minutes doing something “productive.” And though the younger one has never played without me for more that about 28 seconds at a time, I could still generally plop him on my hip or in the carrier and do what “needed” to be done.
But recently, the preschooler has been needy in a new way; moody, tearful, extra prone to tantrums, and clingy in a way that he hasn’t previously been. And it’s occurring to me that I might need to redefine what productivity looks like. Right now “productive” might not mean doing the laundry or the dishes or the vacuuming. It might not be starting another new project. It might just be sitting at the window for a half hour watching the birds. What I “accomplish” in a morning might be acquiescing to his plea that I watch a show with him. I might have to wrap my head around the fact that in motherhood, “productivity” is a concept I should start to think differently about.
But wow that’s hard. Adjusting my mindset from what I “got done” to what I did with them, and valuing those experiences, those moments, is so very difficult. One way I’m trying to do so is by taking stock at the end of the day and reminding myself: “I stopped what I was doing and snuggled for a half hour,” or, “We colored a picture together,” or, “We stopped to collect rocks on our walk.” It’s helping a little. Acknowledging these little moments — and giving myself credit for these activities — is a small step in the right direction, and I’m working hard at it.
Now if only someone would come do my dishes.