I found some spare time on the floor
People like to greet me with all sorts of terrifying predictions for my future these days (this is coupled with a lot of other wonderful parenting guidance and sentiments, so please don't worry that I'm over here drowning in a sea of anxiety.) For some though, I think seeing someone with a big baby belly prompts them to put their hands on both of your shoulders and tell you everything they wish they knew before having a baby so that you might not go into it as bright-eyed, bushy tailed and geared for disappointment like they think they did ... but that's just my assumption.
One theme of fear-mongering I've noticed is that people really want me to understand how little time I'll have once the baby comes. No matter how much I can't imagine it now, they say, I won't even have five minutes to shower, let alone write an important email or return a phone call. I won't be working again unless I hire full-time help at which point I'll need a whole other full time job to pay for the nanny so I might as well sell my computer and resign myself to pumping and wiping spit up off of my clothing for the rest of my days. Oy.
If everyone listened to all of this advice and took it to heart, the human race would just end. Seriously though: we would all just be gone. The animals could have their turf back from us ravenous beings who've warmed up their planet, bred them inhumanely and eaten them in bulk quantities because we would just be too damned afraid to keep breeding. Maybe all this advice is some kind of animal conspiracy to get us to go away, because animals don't seem nearly as jacked-up about this whole parenting thing as we do. If I were them, I'd be watching us and laughing hysterically. We're the most "evolved" species on the planet, but when it comes to raising children, we let our heads get the best of us. At the very least, we must be pretty entertaining.
But back to what I was saying: people are very intent on making sure that I understand I will never again have any time of which to call my own. Always up for a challenge, I decided to start celebrating my count-down to a time of no-more-countdowns-because-time-will-no-longer-exist by thinking of all the ways I throw away the time I do have. Perhaps this will clear up a few minutes here and there once the baby comes, because after all, showers are important. If time is money (or more valuable than money), here's some of the time I found I was carelessly dropping on the floor that I'll be picking back up:
1. Obsessing over my body/appearance. My body is making a baby, and it's probably going to look different for a very long time (if not forever.) I'm pretty proud of what I'm growing inside here, and as I look back on my life pre-pregnancy, I am astounded by how much time I've wasted wanting to shrink. I can't help but notice how much pressure there is on women, in particular, to take up less space. I've said it before recently and I'll say it again: I take up more space now, and I'm absolutely done apologizing (mostly to myself) for it.
2. Getting lost in a decade ago on Facebook. This is not a reference to strolling down memory lane, folks. I'm talking about that moment when you remember an occurrence from seven years ago with someone you're no longer Facebook friends with and decide to "see what they're up to", only to find out everything you can about the person without being their Facebook friend (this only makes you feel even creepier.) An hour later, you're knee-deep in the quicksand of self-loathing and you know things about this person that you really shouldn't know. You're comparing your clothing on the road to motherhood (which includes a lot of mu-mus) to their rather chic all-DVF wardrobe that they've flaunted all the way across the Amalfi Coast this past summer and wondering why you decided to get pregnant when you could have just gone on looking as young and fabulous as you did in college for at least the rest of your 20s (does this sound like a true story? Whoopsies.) Seriously though, of all the times I've ever thought Facebook-stalking someone from my past was a good idea, it has never, ever been a good idea. I always feel worse afterward, and so much time is wasted. Comparison is the thief of joy, and it is also the thief of time. I think I just found a few more hours in my year than I'd care to admit by scratching this item off of my to-do list.
3. Shopping online. The amount of time I spend browsing compared to the amount of time I spend actually purchasing something I need is embarassing. That said, I don't think I will ever quit this one. Ever. But maybe you will, so I thought I would add it to the list anyways. Hey, if I can be of service...
4. Lamenting what I don't have. One of my favorite stories is about a man who was feeling really desperate about his life situation. Everything in his life felt wrong and awful, and he couldn't find anything to be happy or excited about. He told his friend about his despair and his friend encouraged him to write a list of all the things that were troubling him (his family, his house, his job, etc.) He didn't understand the point of the exercise since it only made him feel more down in the dumps, but he wrote everything down in a list anyway and put the list away in a drawer. Several months later, he was having a great day and decided to write another list, this time of everything in his life he was happy about. He drudged up the old list and to his great surprise, the two lists were exactly the same. His woes were all a matter of perspective. I tend to agonize over the same things I wind up feeling grateful for: our old house (sometimes it frustrates the hell out of me, but most of the time I can't fathom ever having to leave it) my car (when its dirty, I want a new one, when it's clean, I'm elated) my clothes (I don't have enough of them or I'm donating half of them to Goodwill to make more space), etc. I'm taking back the time I've wasted wishing I had more, because oh my, we all have so much.
5. My last point is the most obvious and somehow the most difficult, but I plan on spending a lot less time doing sh*t I don't want to do. When I first found out I was pregnant, I made a decision that for this next year, I would spend my time focusing on my growing family and take a step back from extracurricular commitments that have formerly swallowed up most of my spare time. As I've gotten better as saying no, I've learned more about just how easy it is. Just because someone asks you to do something doesn't mean you have to say yes. Just because someone needs my help doesn't mean I suddenly have five extra hours to offer it. Prioritize, make your time work for you. It shouldn't be so difficult and it really doesn't have to be.
Before I sign off on this post, let me make one thing totally clear: I promise you that at one point of another, I will completely and utterly fail at most, if not all of the points I just made above. They're not set in stone, they're just goals and reminders of areas in my life that I could easily adjust in order to make time for myself. At the end of the day, we are all profoundly human (myself very much included). That's what makes the journey so worthwhile.