Friday, May 27, 2011

Finding balance

Life with a newborn is unpredictable.

Life with a newborn is unpredictable.

Life with a newborn is unpredictable.

I'm hoping that if I keep saying that to myself, I'll cut myself a little slack. That somehow, I'll really and truly believe that the above applies to me.

There are going to be messes that I can't get to right away.

I won't always get uninterrupted time to work on lesson plans. I can't keep a spotless house all of the time. My to-do list will not always (or often, or usually) get done. I need to be flexible. I need to bend. I need to, temporarily at least, lower my standards. I am only one human being. I am not imperfect, or invincible.

I must, MUST keep my eyes (and my attention) on what is important. Making memories. Crafting a childhood for my children that is worth remembering. Communicating to them that they - not the housework, or the bill-paying, or the grocery shopping - are important.

It's such a struggle for me. Maybe it's my perfectionism. I like to be able to point to results and say, "I did that." It's easy to look at a clean kitchen floor, or a basket of folded laundry, or a perfectly balanced checkbook and feel that sense of satisfaction. There is a measurable end, a quantifiable result. Not so with the relationships that I'm trying to build with my children. That is more amorphous, less concrete. But so much more important.

I read so many blogs about women who rhapsodize about the afternoons they spend with their children: crafting, adventuring, creating memories. (I know, don't compare the inside of my life to the outside of someone else's. Yeah, yeah.) It seems those women are always bemoaning their lack of housekeeping skills. That they have all these unconquerable messes. Laundry is taking over the house, junk mail is piling up, the kitchen floor hasn't seen the business end of a mop in more than a month, etc. I envy them their ability to let go of their housekeeping expectations. That's never been my problem. I can keep house just fine, thanks. Sure, I get behind every once in a while, but for the most part, my house can be company-ready in five minutes or less. The facet of life I struggle with the most is being present.

I know that I need to slow down, to savor this time in my life, when my littles are are little, when I have a baby to snuggle. I know that I shouldn't beat myself up about the dust that's gathering on my windowsills, or the fingerprints on the TV screen, or the baseboards that desperately need to be painted in the living room. The most important thing is to soak this in. Soak in the sweet smell of a new baby, the enthusiasm of a new reader, the unending riddles of an eight-year-old. I should play princesses more often. I should read Go Dog Go and Old Hat New Hat. I should build forts and play Play-Doh.

should. should. should.

Stop, breathe deep.

Let the housework go.

Hug your kids.

Go outside.



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