It sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn’t it?
So, this productivity junkie had a baby….
I got a very kind email from a reader a few weeks ago that boiled down to this, “how do you do so much while having little kids?”
This reader had recently had her own child, and was learning – as new moms do – that time just sort of seeps through the floorboards when you have a small one. You wake up, you do a load of laundry, you nurse the baby, you change the baby and eight fucking hours have passed.
Your spouse comes home and asks, “How was your day? What did you get up to today?” and you don’t answer, because the answer is….nothing. Nothing that makes a good story, or can be quantified or even measured. Nothing that shows that you have achieved anything.
And yet, you are quite certain that you never stopped working, never just sat with a cup of coffee and your thoughts. There was no Calgon, no bonbons, no soap operas. You are exhausted and want only to fall into your bed, but there is no accomplishment behind that fatigue. There is just more fatigue.
When you are a productivity junkie, Type-A, a perfectionist, not achieving anything is a kind of mild psychological torture. You know, in your heart, that your days are full, with something, and that something is wonderful. But you can’t quite define what that something is. If you can’t measure it you can’t control it, and oh! how we want to control it – how much more comfortable we are when we do.
And so you work harder than you thought possible, and still slip slowly backwards from whatever vision of before that you secrete away in your heart. Before you had kids, before you quit your job, before when you could leave the house without a caravan of equipment, before when you showered daily, before when people affirmed that you did something well, before when you had clean toilets….before, before, before.
It’s not that you want to go back to before. You love now, you love your little pink miracle that makes now so important. But you want to be you, too. The you who does things, and achieves things, and can point with pride to a garden or a report or a presentation or a personal best time in a 5K, and say, “Now that: that is what I did today.”
I have the baby (toddler, now, really) and an almost-eight-year-old, so I know that it does get easier. Babies get older. Children are raised into capability and begin to need you in different, less time-consuming ways. Your ability to be you comes back, though of course you are never the same as you were, before. You’re different, and you’re better.
So, this productivity junkie had a baby….and then one day, the baby was a man.
Eventually, God willing, your children need you hardly at all, and instead turn to you as a friend, and maybe ask for a little babysitting help with their own kids, now and again. In the meantime, if we learn in our way to be content without having to achieve all the time, then we really will have accomplished something.
Put that on the list. Call it a resolution. Make it a goal.