There is nothing that will re-prioritize your life like having children.
Your to-do list expands overnight when you’re pregnant and you feel the pressure to read the countless books there are on hosting your little human parasite, birthing it and taking care of it. Once you have the baby, your to-do list is almost entirely decided for you. You never know how much time you’ll have before the baby needs you, so you have to decide whether to take a nap (as everyone advises), do laundry, eat something, do the dishes, write thank-you notes, or somehow try to feel like a normal person by talking on the phone to someone or e-mailing.
When I went back to work, the weekends became a juggling act of errands, going through mail, and trying to have “family time.” Personal, pre-children projects like scrapbooking (laughable!) weren’t even in my “top 200 things I want to do list.” When I quit my job five months later, my priority became figuring out what to do with an 8 1/2-month-old who couldn’t have a conversation. Then I found out I was pregnant. Of course, our biggest to-do list item became getting our personal wills done, as the thought of the government deciding what to do with our parent-less child would have been an overwhelming one without pregnancy hormones in play.
When Zach came along, my priority was surviving. My to-do list was to -NOT-die, and not accidentally kill or maim either of my children from lack of sleep. Honestly, the first few months of Zach’s life are a complete blur. I wish I had started blogging then, but even the idea is ridiculous because, well, when could I have done it?
And here we are, with a 3 1/2-year-old and a two-year-old, and things seem a bit more manageable, but now my to-do list has more weighty items on it, like teach the kids to swim, figure out how to build Zach’s character, and research where we should send Eliza to kindergarten (because that decision is, scarily, a year away). And of course, the scrapbooking from pre-baby days has fallen off the list, because it’s never going to get done. I’ve come to terms with that.
The thing is, having kids pushes a lot of things you thought were important in life out of the picture. And kissing them goodbye in return for newborn cuddles was a really tough pill for me to swallow. I like control and I like thinking about myself. But what I’m coming to realize is that I’m just beginning to understand what’s really important, and our kids are showing me that. I am sitting here trying to think of what my normal, after work to-do list was like before we had kids, and I can’t even remember (maybe planning home improvement projects?). I think that is more evidence that a lot of it didn’t matter; it isn’t lasting. What’s lasting is leaving a legacy of children who will love others like we love them, and care about others like we care about them.
So if your to-do list is currently diaper-changing, spit-up cleaning, and round-the-clock feeding, hang in there; it will change again pretty soon. Perhaps not to something easier, but at least, in my opinion, to something more rewarding.
I’m forever changed, and I wouldn’t ever want me – or my to-do list – to be the same again.
7 thoughts on “Parenting lesson #4: Your to-do list will never be the same again”
I have absolutely no idea what I did with my free time before I had children. I guess my parent brain has blocked out my pre-parent memories. Maybe that is a good thing. Maybe I’m just getting old….
Nate, I have said that same thing, heard it before, and even read it before. I think, in a way, life speeds up once you have children, so it also makes it seem like you had ALL this time before, when in reality, you probably were just as busy, just with different things.
You’re definitely not getting old. Please don’t go there. =)
Adjusting to the new normal is one of the hardest part of adding each kid to your family as a type A personality, at least in my opinion. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Oh Dana, I think you’re doing such a great job at it! I think we type-A/perfectionists are often hardest on ourselves, so we don’t usually see all the good, but rather how things can be improved. Every time I see you post, you always manage to see the good and blessing in every situation. As long as you do that, I know you’ll be fine (even in the tough moments).
Thanks for the encouragement!! Especially nice as I adjust to this new normal of 2 kids.
I didn’t know you were blogging again – I love it!! And I cried on this one. This post is so encouraging. I know I only have one 8 mo. old, but we are already thinking of a second – which scares the living daylights out of me. But its what we both truly want. 🙂 Does the guilt for not doing “enough” for your kids ever go away? I really admire you in so many ways – keep writing!! 🙂
Oh Yvette, we miss you guys SO much! I’m not kidding when I say every night Eliza mentions you, Nick and Liberty on her list of people for whom she wants to pray. The “guilt” and insecurity don’t really go away, or at least they haven’t so far (and I’m sure as they grow and become more like people, questioning yourself gets more painful). But it’s all part of the process, right? You and Nick will do GREAT with two, you’ll see!!! There’s twice the chaos, twice the mess, and half the time, but exponentially more love and fun. 😉 I love you and hang in there.