I've been thinking a lot about time lately, about how I never have enough of it, it seems. If there's one thing to having a kid, it's that all of a sudden prioritizing tasks becomes absolutely necessary. You might even say it's a priority to prioritize. Now that Beatrix is on a pretty regular schedule, I know exactly how much time I get per day. My to-do list requires about five times that amount of time.
I'm not just complaining here. This isn't just a new parent's rant on "oh, poor me. I have to take care of an adorable little baby all day long and I just don't get the time for video games I deserve." I do feel that way on occasion, but it's silly and I try not to indulge it. Yes, a baby takes up a lot of time and a lot of energy and, on the nights she wakes up every few hours, a lot of the time one normally expect to recover one's energy. But it's also no surprise. This is exactly what I knew I was getting: the whole baby package, as it were.
But even though it's not breaking news (This just in! Babies take up time and make it so you can't get as much done as you'd like!), it is still a challenge. Some days - when my head is clear - I am able to pull it off masterfully: Bea takes a nap and I whisk into uber-productive-mode or else Bea's especially compliant and cheerful and lets me do whatever I want with her. But other days, I feel like I am sleep-walking for the first half and then panicking for the second half (when I realize how little I've been able to get done while sleep-walking). I'll admit it: there are some days when I wish Beatrix would take a twelve hour nap in addition to sleeping twelve hours at nighttime, but only if a twelve hour nap was somehow healthy for her.
The problem is that, while my time is limited, my brain is not and it's running constantly, reminding me of things in life to be done. It's not really the day-to-day stuff that gets me down. I have the privilege of being home all day, so I can pretty well manage household chores and personal hygiene. Not every day, but generally speaking I can. It's more the never-ending list of edifying, life-enriching, holistic leisure activities that I constantly wish I could do, such as cooking, reading, writing (including this blog), corresponding, sewing, paper-crafting, starting my own business, decorating the apartment, playing games, exercising, watching movies, spending time with Thom, listening to music, staying up on new music, looking cute, organizing, spending time with family, reading the Bible, remembering people's birthdays, visiting friends, brushing up on current events, taking an interest in politics, studying French, getting more involved with church, helping the less fortunate, spending time in nature, taking in cultural events around the Northwest, dressing well, photographing, napping, continuing my education, accessorizing, using items from List It and Forget It appropriately, engaging my imagination, and flossing, to name a few. I just never seem to get to them all.
[Please note: You may think this list is exhaustive, but I have managed to cross off a few things in the course of my life, such as painting my nails, getting a tan, and becoming a rockstar.]
The point is that something has got to give. And I know it's not the baby. I've got to let go of some of my own plans, at least for now...but which ones? I keep going back and forth between whether I should let it all go and do whatever I feel like as long as the baby is well-cared for, which I am fairly certain would be to stare at screens and eat fast food most days (but is that really caring well for the baby? oh! the inter-connectivity of it all!), or if I should keep the hope of "the good life" in my mind knowing that I will fail on some points and just agree to not fault myself too harshly for that. Is it better to try the impossible? Or will I necessarily wear myself out? Do I have to just narrow myself down?
My mother-in-law once told me that she loved this time of life that I'm in (having small children) because she knew exactly what was expected of her. I appreciate that. In some sense, it's true for me too. If I give myself up for a whole day just to make Beatrix happy, I've done well. I guess the problem is that I can't help wondering if we'd all be happier if I could do more.