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78 weeks | My to-do list is getting shorter | no. 0072
It’s not even like I made a list to begin with. Linear things turn me off. My “list” on Monday was actually a huge circle with lines sticking out of its perimeter, each one representing another task. Nevermind the circle was big enough for a month’s worth of chores, writing goals, and logistical stuff for the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop and the upcoming launch of the Creative Wellness Lab. I sat there and wrote everything down like it was really going to all happen in one week. Something about putting it on paper. It’s like you can just stretch time out, pretend there are 48 hours in every day.
I got a lot done on Monday and was feeling super accomplished by my ability to do so much writing amidst the chaos of the munchkin’s toddler galaxy that has taken over our home. Toys, books, papers, cups, broomsticks–he likes to sweep–and stray items from the laundry float from room to room as he grows taller, stronger, sharper, and more determined everyday. I think he can turn the door knob now. In a few days he’ll be officially 18 months. I keep wondering, and doing so multiple times a day, What happened to my baby?
Monday’s success did not prepare me for Tuesday’s flop. My brain shut off at the most inconvenient time. I was a weak two paragraphs into an essay that I could already tell was not going to come together for me anytime soon. The munchkin was coloring all over my notes and when he wasn’t coloring he was hurling his crayon to the floor, laughing hysterically at his feat, and then demanding another one to start the joy all over again.
Underneath his markings were my notes for three major projects that I was attempting to simultaneously work on. My intentions were completely absurd, given the realities of my life, but I was still hooked on my list from Monday. I felt I had to “get it all done” or else. Or else what, though? I don’t know. There was no extremely tangible consequence. I could push my self-imposed deadlines back but–
But as a mother who is always pushing things back there is this deliriously thrilling–albeit fleeting–sensation when something actually is completed. I had all but imagined myself walking down the red carpet of the SuperMommy Awards by the end of the week. I wonder what the prize would even be if there was such an award. Don’t we all deserve some praise?
I think it was when I dodged the fifth crayon from smacking me in the eye that I finally conceded my mega to-do list was not getting done this week. Not if I was going to be mothering and homemaking and sleeping and eating and occasionally bathing–which I am getting more regular with, by the way. I gave up trying to protect the crayons from the munchkin’s glee. I placed my head inside the pages of my notebook on top of my masterfully color-coded plans. Even though I was letting go, I needed a moment to just commune with what was not going to get done. The munchkin laughed harder when I surrendered, climbed over my head, grabbed the pencil box and shook it victoriously beside my ear. This whole thing was just another game to him. Take it easy, mommy.
After accepting that the writing and facilitation planning work was a bust for the day, I decided that at least I could prevail on feeding my family more dark, leafy greens. I went to the kitchen thinking I would quickly saute some spinach and onions to accompany the rice and baked chicken–my partner would want me at this point in the story to make sure you all knew he baked the chicken. Upon entering the space where the food lives the once happily crayon-flinging munchkin turned into a begging, starving, crying mound of tears and howls that needed immediate attention. Since I couldn’t chop and hold him, I put him on my back. That only settled him for a few minutes and then he was back to being his adamantly hungry self.
When the spinach was done I prepared his favorite orange bowl with all the food. He continued to fuss except for when he was chewing. I stared at the minutes on the oven’s clock, one by one erasing whatever potential this day had held. Tomorrow’s another day, sure. But the clock will still be ticking.
I could see the munchkin was ultimately sleepy and needed to go to bed, especially since he had only had one short nap all day. As much as I was not looking forward to the next 30 minutes of bedtime routines with a fussy baby, I was oddly feeling a sense of relief that I had given up on trying to finish that essay that was not flowing. Had I still been pushing to make it all happen, I’d be impatient with the munchkin and feeling irritated that his funky mood was delaying my writing progress. And then me not being as gentle with him would have just made him more frustrated and prolonged the whole evening.
When finally he was on his way to sleep, I realized the essay wasn’t the only thing getting bumped from my list. Of the three major projects I had committed on paper to finalizing this week, one of them was going to have to be removed all together. Miraculously though, I was not distraught about it this time, and felt no need to literally put my head inside my notebook and mourn reality. I found a calming peace in the moment. The munchkin’s latch gradually becoming lighter as he drifted deeper into sleep. The quiet snore of his relaxed breath. The low light of the lamp dimming the particulars of the absolute mess in which he had adorned the room.
It was all okay. The day was over and it–such an impossible mountain I had made it out to be— didn’t all get done. I wasn’t even going to bed with a false sense of hope that the morning would grant me a make-up day. By the way, there are no make-up days. Just acceptance, and a much shorter (but probably still a little too long to get through with a munchkin) to-do list for tomorrow.
The munchkin, my first born, was born on a Wednesday. Wednesday’s Bloom: Textual Portraits of a New Mommy is an ongoing multi-media documentary project about my process as a mother. Today’s story is a part of Volume 1, 73 consecutive weeks of posts, spanning about the first year and a half of the munchkin’s life. Each episode explores my weekly discoveries, challenges, questions, and hopes as a mother. I also facilitate the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop for all mothers and women active in their mothering work who are excited about cultivating their own writing practices.