It is December and we are almost through with our calendars, the turned pages reminding us of what we have or have not achieved this year, as well as the limited amount of time left we have to finish the remaining items on our 2015 to do list.
It is a good time to stop, review, and re-evaluate. I think of my goals as writer, and starting a small business, and I give thanks. I think of my goals for motherhood and running a smooth and organized household, and I am back on my knees.
As I watch my nearly 7 month old baby rolling around by herself on the bed, gurgling and shrieking in pleasure over her favorite toy for the day, I am torn between feeling proud of her newly acquired skills and selfishly wishing that no more developmental milestones be unlocked. I always rolled my eyes at parents who would sigh about their kids growing up too fast; yet here I am, a new mom with a baby who hasn’t even turned one, waxing nostalgic and wishing she would stay tiny forever. Too much change, too fast.
Some like to say I’ve zoomed through life. By marrying at the age of 25, just a few years after graduation, and then becoming a mom two weeks before our first anniversary. I know that we are “going against the grain”, as the mentality these days is to do it all before marriage and babies. We did it the other way around. While it was an intentional choice, my body was also on a strict timeline, so it was then or never, and no looking back. And I’d like to think that despite the uncertainties, we haven’t.
Yes, it is a little more complicated to build a career and a savings account when there’s a baby and a home in the picture. My attention is split between a several spaces, and my learning curve for what some might consider to be basic knowledge is causing me to be impatient with myself. Try as I might to avoid it, the devil of comparison sits on my shoulder whispering discouraging things in my ear when I’m on Instagram looking at photos of other people’s lives. How far ahead are they? How do we measure?
And when these moments happen, it certainly helps to remind myself that my journey is my own, that the story of our family is ours, and that things will happen for us in our own time.
When I was younger I used to beat myself up for goals I didn’t meet, and on a daily basis, tasks on my to-do lists that I didn’t accomplish. Today I am learning that motherhood doesn’t work that way. That baby-rearing isn’t a task to accomplish but a continual processes of evolution, growth, and change. It isn’t a straight arrow up, but one that zig zags, loops, and maybe even dances around for a bit before it reaches its next milestone. Babies are messy and unpredictable human beings just like their parents—not machines to be programmed or tools to be mastered. Parenthood must be intentional, but it cannot completely be controlled or planned.
Yesterday our errands left us with little time to go swimming with our daughter. I try to take her swimming once or twice a week, but the rains have left our swimming dates with rainchecks, so we were looking forward to taking her out in the afternoon that day. However, by the time we had arrived at home, it was 6pm, the sun was setting, and the wind was picking up. It was getting cold. My husband expressed his concern about the time, with a sorry look on his face. I knew he was disappointed, and it broke my heart. So despite my worries about her catching a cold, we tried anyway. We took her down to the pool and eased her into the water. First her toes, then her feet. Just a quick dip, we promised ourselves. She started kicking excitedly. Next her legs, and then her torso. She was already pulling us in.
Yes, the water was cold, but she didn’t seem to mind, and the next thing we knew both she and my husband were both completely submerged in the water: laughing, splashing, with her looking a bit like a turtle, trying to wriggle free and swim on her own.
In five short minutes it was over. We pulled her out of the pool and wrapped her up in a towel as tightly and as quickly as we could. A warm bath would thwart any attempts of a cold’s arrival.
It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t perfect. And we sheepishly went against our better judgements as parents. But it was the highlight of our Sunday, and a great beginning for the week, parent goals met or not.