I don't believe I've mentioned to you that my parenting role has shifted these last few months. Instead of equally sharing daily responsibility for the boys with Patrick, I am now with them all day, six days a week. Patrick is preparing for his prelims in mid-December, and needs to work on that full-time. (He's getting his Ph.D in history at Duke.) This lifestyle shift has become even more drastic this past month, as my parents have also been on an extended vacation. It's the second shift, and my time with the boys ends each day only to find me awake far too late, trying to keep the business humming.
For some time there, I had it all wrong. My head was filled with work obligations, to-do lists, and future sewing exploits while I was with the boys. I was anxiously twiddling my thumbs in anticipation of naptime, trying to get "things done" while watching them (always a bad idea) and working myself into a ball of stress with inner dialogues of "I-should-be-" and "I-need-to-."
Why must I contantly be striving to accomplish more, to "make up for lost time", to "just get over this hump and then I can relax?" I know I'm not alone with these feelings. So many of us, especially parents, are working so hard, striving to get to that mythical period of rest, plenty, and stress-free living, that we totally forget about today.
You would think that it would be easy for me to appreciate all of the beauty in every moment, given that I can always fall back on the "at-least-we-aren't-in-the-hospital" mantra. But really, it took a few weeks of constant inner badgering and unsustainable fatigue for me to check my to-do list at the door.
The moment I chucked my to-do list, a weight lifted from my shoulders and I was able to enjoy my boys again. The most deleterious side effect of my to-do list was that it made me feel like parenting full-time was a chore - something of a burden because it kept me from being productive. I was overcome with guilt (aren't I, the former teacher and parenting blogger, supposed to adore every minute I spend with my own children?) ;) and I decided that it was neither me nor my boys that was causing this malaise. It was the darn to-do list.
So goodbye, responding to emails. Goodbye, long list of house projects. Goodbye, worry over producing new pattern designs. Goodbye, attending Quilt Market. Etc., etc.
Phew! It felt so good.
The next step was deciding that I was going to have fun with my boys. If I was going to spend all day with them and not have any time for personal creative pursuits, I was going to try to do something fun and interesting with them - to share what I love with them.
That's when I pulled out the hand-me-down baby backpack and the Ergo carrier, and we got out of dodge. (To a nature preserve two miles from our home, mind you, but man, after a week of (successful!) potty learning on Finn's part, it felt like a real adventure!) I figured that Finn could wander as much as he wanted and I would carry him back in the Ergo if he got tired.
We walked about a mile. It was awesome. Solo parenting can hurt your back. But it's a good kind of sore.
So chuck your to-do list. And enjoy life as-is!