One thing I’ve noticed since having a kid is that I’ve become marginally better at life in ways that are surprising to me.
I mean, it’s not like I was a fantastic failure at life before, but there was that time my husband traveled for a month and I needed four separate line items on a reminder list that highlighted, basically, “Check the mail.”
When my daughter was very young – three, four weeks – I noticed that I was amazingly more motivated to be productive. In the past, I might have idly thought “oh yeah, I need to do laundry”, but once she was born, the few hours of the day I wasn’t holding her (and those were so, so very few) I was ON IT. Laundry! Dishes! Cleaning! Shower! Shit got DONE in a way shit has never really gotten done in my world. Probably because when you have all the time in the world to do things, you never really have to do them now.
Now that she’s ten months old, I’m productive in a different way. I’m much, much better now at compartmentalizing my life. I can’t stay late at work: my daughter goes to bed between 6 and 7pm; if I want to see her, I need to leave work on time. Which means I have to be ON IT when I’m at work, I can’t procrastinate a hard task to the afternoon; by the time the afternoon comes around I need to be getting stuff ready for the next day, because I need to be LEAVING or I don’t see my child. There’s a few hours in the morning before work that she’s awake, and I don’t want to spend that time in the shower and getting ready, so I get up and work out before her (ok, let’s be real, most days I just get up) and shower and get ready so I can spend those hours on the floor with her crawling around, getting baby giggles.
Writing this out, it sounds ridiculous. Duh, Liz, get shit done at work. But it’s been a shift for me; I left work today “early” because my babysitter had to leave early. It was hard to shut down before I was “done” and leave. But I did, and then I spent the afternoon in full mom mode. Not on my phone scanning email while she played, but with her, phone somewhere else. (Ed note: when I was on maternity leave and home with her all the time, I didn’t mind to go to the gym for an hour, or multi task catching up on twitter while the baby was playing. But now that there’s only a few hours with her? I try to put the phone somewhere else. I don’t drop her in gym day care and workout. It’s the only time I get; I’m trying to be there. I’d feel OH SO DIFFERENT if my mom-mode time wasn’t limited to like, 3 hours a day.)
Once she was asleep, I slipped back to Work-Liz, back on my laptop, finishing the day. I had never really been good at prioritizing my time exactly where it needed to be. Now, with a baby that has no capability to adjust to my schedule, I’ve had to learn. It’s been good. I’m happier. I feel like a marginally better person, a more functioning adult. And while I know as I reflect on my first year as a mom I will of course think about all the amazing ways my heart has grown, the impossible feeling of smiling in a way that actually hurts because I’m so happy to be staring at this child, or tears on a Tuesday night because I can’t believe my luck and my happiness, but this feeling, this concept of understanding, finally, at long last, how to actually function in the world like a grown person, is one that stands out just as much.