So, it is really upon us now. Just a few more weeks and we will be welcoming our third baby. Being on the verge of another major life change for our family is stressful, but I have a changed perspective this time around. There’s a lot of little things I am worried about, like how I will juggle life, particularly this upcoming year while the baby is, well, a baby, and while Calum is still in treatment, and while Faye continues her mission to establish dominance over anyone in her path. I swear to God, for every ounce of independence or control I tried to ascertain as a child, I’m getting it back about 300-fold with Faye. I used to think maybe it would just be a phase, and I would figure out a way to trick her into submission but, so far, I’m going on two years of being shut out of every match. You know what they say about the best offense being a good defense? Well, Faye has this this shit mastered. As it turns out, I have not yet figured out how to put spaghetti back together after cutting it when she tells me it is too long, nor have I uncovered the mystery of how to give her a bath without water, or how to help her when she is hot, yet refuses to wear short sleeves. Meanwhile at dinner last night, Calum asked Alexa if she could play Vivaldi’s Four Seasons so, yeah, both my kids have me scratching my head at all times.
In less than a month, I will be working ‘round the clock to figure out the inner psyche of another child and, while a large part of me feels overwhelmed already, I also have a sense of ease about it and the reason is this: I’m making an effort to relieve myself of the pressure to do everything perfectly. It’s not that I think I have actually done everything perfectly in the past. I know we are all human and no one is perfect. I am DEFINITELY not perfect, but I have wasted a ton of time and energy on brainstorming how I might try to do everything perfectly, and it’s caused me a lot of needless stress along the way. I am easily frustrated when I feel like I have not planned accordingly or have not performed at a certain level and, while maybe this has been a good motivator in some aspects of my life, it’s also a source of anxiety, guilt, and worry. I’ve put too much focus on things that aren’t actually important, and I think I may finally be beginning to understand that I need to enjoy the path a little more than the destination (except for get this baby out of me now).
For me, this comes down to allowing myself a break a little more frequently, and I can achieve that in some ridiculously simple ways. Some days, for instance, it’s giving myself the luxury of buying the pre-chopped vegetables at the grocery store. In the past, I might have judgmentally glanced over them, noting to myself what a cop out they were. They cost extra and they don’t “add” to the quality of the food, so I’d buy whole vegetables instead in order to make my life more difficult while also upholding the integrity of my meal…that is, the second meal I would be cooking that night because, don’t forget, the kids meal which is always prepared differently.
I’m even going to allow myself to pay out of pocket for the first time ever for childcare. In the past, our childcare costs have been paid for entirely by my part time job. It’s something I am really proud of but, at this point, with Calum still in treatment and a baby coming, I’ve decided to let go of the job. It’s been a great job, and my boss has been incredibly accommodating to our situation by allowing me to work from home so I could be near Calum but, truthfully, the work itself isn’t something I’m passionate about, and the thought of trying to keep it up next year with everything going on at home feels a little more daunting than necessary. I have wrestled with the decision so much, and am finally accepting that it is OK for us to pay for a babysitter sometimes. I don’t have to do work on top of work to earn a little time off here and there.
Maybe this stuff seems ridiculous to a lot of people but, for me, it has been a personal hurdle. I’m really lucky to have a husband who supports me in these choices. He’s OK with my leaving the part time job to focus, not only more at home, but on myself, and he’s OK eating eggs for dinner some nights or whatever it may be. The bottom line is, I’m allowing myself some changes that will not only bring me more fulfillment and ease, but that will give me the chance to breathe and focus less on doing everything perfectly, and more on doing things that matter. I’d rather be talking to my kids while they eat dinner than feverishly chopping vegetables, and I would rather be investing time into personal endeavors that might bring me long term professional fulfillment, rather than short term returns.
I think a lot of moms struggle to find this balance in today’s world where women are highly educated and make giant contributions to our families, whether that means taking care of your kids or going into an office, but are also expected to bear the brunt of the overwhelming majority of tasks domestically. It’s a pressure we put on ourselves and a pressure that has been imposed on us societally, and it’s time we allow ourselves to come up for air a little more often. We don’t have to do it all, all of the time. Beyond my natural inclination to do things the hard way, Calum’s diagnosis has made me even more fearful of life getting easier. Life being hard has become a security blanket for me. Easing up means that I open myself to adjusting to another difficult thing happening in the future, but I need to be brave enough to let go of control and take chances in order to really let myself live…after all, if the grocery store stops selling pre-chopped veggies, we can always just stop eating vegetables, and at least that way I will have even more time to enjoy our beautiful new baby.