Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Happiness secret: aim low and kiss your baby boss

After an impressive run of not napping for more than ten minutes at a time, Ben has gotten into the habit of crashing every night from about 9:30 to 11:30. Um, not the most ideal time—hello, sleeping through the night?—but for now, I'll take it. Because that's two hours when I can get stuff done. At least some stuff.

I have been struggling with this lack of ability to accomplish much of anything, other than taking care of an infant. Yes, yes, that's a Big Deal. But it's been hard to accept that Ben is my very demanding (although super-cute) boss and my time is not my own, especially since I typically try to pack a lot into one day. I've always been that way but I've learned to be hyper-efficient since having kids. Now, I am lucky if I am able to finish one email over the course of a few hours. I find myself grateful for bathroom breaks.

A part of me feels that slowing down the drive that's enabled me to juggle work and kids and their activities and Max's therapy and medical needs and chores and the house and other responsibilities galore means everything is going to fall apart. And that letting go means I'll never be able to grab hold again. These feelings are not at all logical, as feelings tend to be. I've been trying to find a way to contain them that doesn't involve consuming mass quantities of Double Stuffed Oreos.

In the last few days, one thing has brought me some peace of mind: aiming low. Real low. That means I decide that I will put away half a pile of the laundry at the foot of our bed. Not the whole pile, just half. Or I will write two thank you cards for gifts Ben got, that's it. Or I will scan one page of unopened email. Or I will make just one call for planning Max's bar mitzvah, no more. I pick a couple of bite-size tasks per day, and I pull them off. 

I haven't fully embraced my reality, and probably won't, but aiming low has helped me feel less stressed about all the stuff I can't get to. It's been rather astounding how accomplished I feel doing so little, like I am Warren Buffet and I have pulled off a billion dollar takeover when all I did was remember to bring up a few rolls of paper towels from the basement.

Of course, I am my own worst taskmaster so nobody gets on my case about the delays and didn't-dos. Never in this life will Dave say to me, "Honey, why haven't you gone through that towering pile of mail on the counter?" It's unlikely the kids will ever remark, "Mommy, I can't believe you haven't tidied up the area formerly known as the living room!"

Nobody cares, except me. And for now, I'm not caring that much.


  1. You're doing a great job Ellen! You write daily blog posts, that's awesome. I know you're used to juggling 10 thousand things but you're a mom and your biggest priority at the moment is take care of that adorable little one(and his wonderful brother and sister). Everyone gets that

  2. I can't say anything useful because I don't have a shared experience, but good luck.

  3. I had one of those demanding non-sleepers. Oh. My. Gosh. I wondered if she would ever sleep or stop crying. I'm happy to say, that "baby" is now 20 years old, away at college and she did end up sleeping through the night and taking naps. In fact, for all the trouble she had sleeping for those first 4 months, she has been a champion sleeper ever since. She's also been a remarkably easy child to raise. But those first 4 months? I still get anxiety thinking about it. Looking into the future isn't all the helpful in the moment, but I definitely can empathize.

  4. Ellen....
    Aw, now I want me some Double Stuf Oreo cookies!! Way to enable the chocolate addict in me!! Hee, hee, hee.... ;-D
    Love you later, Raelyn

  5. I remember those not a napper days very well. A strong memory is a frustrating afternoon when my dream was to organize the basement. Yes, that was my dream, six weeks after my son was born; all other dreams had drifted away. I think setting really low goals is an excellent idea.

    I had wondered, before, how you did it all; now I understand a little bit; you are one of those high energy people, organized, people, who always amaze me when they are in charge of things. If you were wondering, folks like you really do more than other people.

    I am not one of you, but my guess is that once you are sleeping and not nursing again (there really is something about nursing hormones) you will go back to being who you were. A math professor I know once went through similar angst, in the newborn months, thinking that she would never have an original thought again. But, she did; the period of babyhood was temporary.


Thanks for sharing!

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