The birth of my son brought many changes to life as we knew it around here. I remember standing out by the garden, 8 1/2 months pregnant, tears streaming down my face as I stared at what was seemingly just an overgrown jungle. My well-meaning husband tried in vain to console me. So much love, so much sweat into my garden. But I could no longer bend to weed, and the heat and the mosquitoes and the sleepless nights were all too much. There must have been a dozen mosquitoes taking turns devouring my obviously delicious blood as I stood there, trying, really, really trying, to come to terms with the obvious truth: there was no more garden, only weeds and bugs and diseased tomatoes where lush green had once stood.
Now, I look back and find it somewhat amusing, this inability of mine to let something important go to make room for something ever so much more important. But it was a long road to get there, as I slowly let one thing after another go on hiatus while I figured out what it meant to be a mother. And it was not easy, giving up the productivity of my former life, unsure of when (if ever) it would return. Eventually, even this blog fell victim to the busy days of Life with Baby Chris. Homemade bread? Forget about it. Canned vegetables? Not so much. Clean house? You see where this is going....
And the worst part was I had found all of these wonderful, inspiring Mommy Blogs- moms that are out there doing it all and loving it: The Gypsy Mama, SouleMama, Simple Mom. I really enjoyed their posts (on the days I actually found time to read them), until one day, I turned off my computer with this sinking, horrible feeling of despair. I was not like them. I did not "do it all". I did not knit my own clothes, and make handmade decorations for my home, create beautiful crafts, paint old furniture, sew my baby's clothes, grow all of our own food (anymore), and - most glaring of all- blog every day about all of it. I loved these moms, but I could not be like them. I had to find a way to be inspired without getting depressed and tired. I had to figure out how to make the priorities of my life come to terms with the realities of my days.
You see, when we moved out to the country, we didn't have kids, and I was working from home. We had ample free time to fill, and we did so by taking on as much self-sufficient living as possible. Our days were filled from morning til night with various chores and projects, and it was wonderful. We spent five exhilerating years out here in the country, learning, growing, soul-searching. But bring on life with a baby, a husband working full-time off the farm, me running a business and teaching part time, and long, endless, sleepless nights, and suddenly there was no time for so much of what had become our life. It was more than just disappointing. It was a seismic shift in priorities, in how we chose to expend our energies.
At first, I decided I needed a good time management overhaul. I quickly became mermerized by what have become known as the "Life Hackers"- people who are masters of organizing time and life into extremely productive, neat packages. You've probably heard of some of them. David Allen's "Getting Things Done" is one of the more popular. They are all systems designed to cut the waste and inefficiency out of life. Increase productivity. Reduce chaos. Do more things in less time... so you can, again, do more things in all of the extra time.
That sounded great at first. I wanted to get more done! But the problem is, after initially getting excited about the idea, and trying all of these lists and folders and time-cutters, I realized that this was just not me. I didn't want to account for every second of my day. I didn't want to go-go-go until I dropped. I wanted to stop and day dream. I wanted to sit on the side of our trail in the woods and count the clouds as they slowly rolled by. How did those things fit on to-do lists???
We are a world in danger of going too fast. Where are we all running to?
And here I am, one year later. I have become a Slowed Down Person (which, really, is what country living is all about). I no longer feel the need to "do it all". Chris and I sit on the kitchen floor and watch a loaf of bread baking in the oven (if he'll sit that long), and it might be the most productive thing we do all day. Because, you see, I have learned that productivity is not about crossing things off lists. It's about producing experiences that create lifelong memories, learning, and growing. It's about taking the time to sit and giggle hysterically together because Chris finds it enormously amusing if I stick my tongue out and say "BLAH!" in a very, very deep voice. It's about long walks through the woods, looking at the trees and the colors and the bugs and listening for the birds and the rustling of animals in this strange and mysterious habitat. Sometimes, that means getting things done together. And others, it means getting things undone.
I am hopeful that as Chris grows, he and I will share in many wonderful hobbies: creating, crafting, photographing, painting, cooking. And perhaps then we will be "productively creative" (or creatively productive?).
For now, I'm content to just hang out while the little guy figures out cool things like how his hands work and why he has so many toes....