Life, Inch by Inch

My two best friends from high school both had babies this month, just a few days apart. I've been thinking about my friends and their babies, wishing I could hop a flight.  I wish I could go cook and clean and do the grocery shopping and the laundry.  I wish I could come bearing lots of lavender soap and a dozen new, clean tank tops.  I wish I could sit on their couches with them, sleepy and happy and staring at babies.  I wish I could rock fussy babies to sleep, walking laps around the living room, while my friends max out their 2-hour between-feeding sleep window.  I've been the tired mom; now I want to be the helper.

But I can't; not yet.  Not this time.

If I were sitting on the happy, sleepy couches this week, this is what I would tell my friends:

We are in a season of life that is marked by small goals, little benchmarks that indicate survival.

Your baby will force you to stop measuring yourself by your to-do list.  You may be an idealist; you may not think that you find your identity in your work, in what you accomplish, but you do.  We all do.  That baby will force you to stop calculating your value by how much you do, how chic your house is, how you look, and how many people are impressed with you.  You will adapt or die.  You'll find your value somewhere deeper, truer, or the insecurity will kill you.  You either give up your long to-do lists, or you'll drown in a sea of unmet expectations.  

The secret is small goals.

Make a list of tiny things you want to accomplish today.  Things that, before you had kids, didn't even seem like things.  Things like:

1. Text Mom 2. Unload and reload dishwasher 3. Shower 4. Do  jumping jacks 5. Get the mail

Those are your goals for the next 24 hours.  Your little list grounds you.  It puts you in control instead of at the mercy of the wiggly little dictator that needs to be held and fed and changed and cleaned around the clock.  You'll feel progress instead of powerless.  When you meet your goals, you'll feel like you have your crap together.  And on the days you take a shower you'll be like,

"I DID ALL THE THINGS!" *drops mic*

When my babies were new and squishy dictators, I tried to set a realistic, achievable goal in each category: physically, relationally, spiritually, professionally, and housework-ily.  I still have a note on my phone where I jotted down my goals for a day in May - Henry was 2 months old.  It says:

Small Goals: -Make green smoothie for breakfast -email David (my agent) -Fold 1 load of laundry -Post something, anything, to FB author page -Go to Madeline's teacher meeting @2:30

New Mom, you can't go to the gym now, but you can do 50 jumping jacks every time you change a diaper.

You can't go out for coffee yet, but you can text one friend every day, while you're nursing the baby, just to connect to another person.

You can't do a Beth Moore bible study, but you can leave your bible open on the kitchen counter all day.

Super-mom isn't found in accomplishing everything; it's found in living well. For me, super-mom just means having a Kindergartener, a toddler, a baby, and liking it.  

Women who appear to have it all together never have it all together, they just have the right things together.  They have just enough together to to enjoy this season instead of merely surviving it, though there is some of that.

Of course you'll keep moving towards your big plans and dreams and your creative work, but in this sweet season you will move inch-by-inch, not stride-by-stride.

Inch by inch.  Kiss by kiss.  Nap by nap.  Chinese take-out by Chinese take-out.

And send me lots of baby pictures.  Every day.  Just keep 'em coming.   Megan, if you're reading this, stop right now and go take a picture of your baby and text it to me.

Rest and peace and joy, Kate



Related: Motherhood 101, The First Year There is Room