It hit me this afternoon as I was wishing for an extra set of hands and more hours in the day – I have been approaching motherhood backwards. My baby is teething and clinging to me as I’m googling “heat rash” and “skin rashes in baby fat rolls” while wondering where my lukewarm coffee went. Ah yes, on the floor by the strewn toys and board books. Better pick that up before my husband comes home and accidentally knocks it over again, to which he’ll ask me for the hundredth time to please stop leaving beverages in the walkways, asking me why in the world I would ever do that.
My brain will then start spinning back to my morning, where there is no short answer as to how the coffee got there. It is a sequence of minuscule yet complex events, but before I will have time to try to explain this series of events, he will already be upstairs taking his boots off where the pile of laundry sits. Then I’ll be at a crossroad of folding clothes or making dinner, to which food always wins.
And it repeats, day after day. There’s always this feeling following me around of what more I should be able to accomplish in a day’s work as a mother. No job that I’ve ever had in the workforce has ever left me so scatterbrained with so many unfinished projects. I share every waking second of my days with another human, and it’s a constant juggling act between my needs and his needs, which forces me to re-define my needs.
Balancing needs and wants, shoulds and coulds is harder than ever for me as a mom, and I didn’t see it coming. I have always considered myself a “high-capacity” woman. I thrive in a state of always being busy, and I have historically enjoyed taking on many different roles at once.
This worked well for me when I was in the workforce. I was that employee who would say “yes” to anything regardless of my job description. I would leave the office physically, but never mentally. I got shit done.
Fast forward to motherhood, and this type of “over achieving” isn’t translating so well. Don’t get me wrong, there are days where I can spread myself across multiple roles and it brings nothing but positive energy. But most of the time, the more I try to do, the more I lose focus on the big picture.
It happened this morning when I was kissing my baby on the floor, and it made him laugh the sweetest little giggle I ever heard. Still, in my head, I was thinking about everything else I needed to finish around the house and all the phone calls, emails and errands calling for me. This voice in my head was telling me to “get off my ass already and go do something.” But then he laughed again, and I suddenly felt a wave of guilt for being so distracted from my sweet boy who needs me. I corrected myself. I am doing something. Nurturing my son is an accomplishment, and exchanging laughter with him is more impressionable than a fancy to-do list.
What if, being the best mom I can be is not defined by how many tasks I can finish in a day, but by how many times I can make my baby smile? Maybe, being overly-busy does not make me a super mom, just a super tired mom.
I’ve come to realize, motherhood is not about being everything to everyone, but being everything to my child. Maybe I’ve known this all along, I was just too afraid to embrace it. Maybe I’m finally okay being just “one thing” all of the time, because if that one thing is being this little boy’s mommy, then I am pretty damn lucky.