There is a lot of buzz in the blogging air right now about prioritizing and that general feeling of being overwhelmed that seems to be the thing that most mothers have in common. I read Michelle’s post over at Leaving Excess and it got me thinking about my own situation.
I'll be honest, I don't get completely overwhelmed too often. I get stressed at times, but that seems to be a situational thing as opposed to a constant feeling. I have my days, especially when my daughter is being a terror, but in general, I try to relax and go with the flow. My house is not in perfect shape. I have dust on the top of my TV. On any given day, I probably have dishes in my sink. But to me, this doesn't matter.
Would I like to have a perfectly cleaned and decorated house? Sure, but not for me. For me, as long as the house is clean enough to live in and doesn't stink, I'm good. I don’t care about having a perfect house, so if I strived for it, the only people that would really care are my visitors. And I don’t keep my home for them. I keep my home for me and family.
I only do what is important to me. I love to cook, so my pantry is super organized. My linen closet? Not so much. I am a writer and spend time everyday at my desk, so it is clean as a whistle. Is my living room dusted? No. My daughter and I play with her toys everyday, so I’ve been through them often to sort out what toys she has outgrown so I can donate or sell them. Her clothing on the other hand... I pulled out a t-shirt this morning that was about two sizes too small for her.
Prioritizing helps me keep my sanity. Being the mom to a toddler is stressful enough. I don't need to be the perfect housekeeper, the perfect gardener, the perfect blogger. It is important to me to spend quality time with my baby. It is important to me to have a good relationship with my husband. It is important that I cook healthy. delicious meals. It is important that my house is clean enough so that I don't have to worry when Aly wanders around. It is important that I save money so that we can afford for me to stay home with the baby.
Everything else that isn't a priority can be done when I have the extra time. AFTER the priorities are met. AFTER my family is cared for and loved. AFTER I relax and take care of myself. There are some things that will likely never be done. That linen closet is probably always going to be unorganized. And I am okay with that.
I recently went to have a makeover done with my friend and the lady doing my make-up also has a little girl about a year older than my daughter. She made a comment that for having a toddler, I looked really good. No dark circles under the eyes. My skin looked pretty good. And it really made me think about my life and why I generally don’t feel stressed.
I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’ve been sick for the better part of ten years. I have an auto-immune disease that essentially means that I have less energy on any given day than other people my age. I think I definitely tend towards being a Type A personality, but I’ve had to modify that and slow down in life. I don’t have any other choice. I can remember exhausting myself in my early 20’s because I still wanted to do it all and just never had the energy to get it all done. Then I read the Spoon Theory. Talk about an eye-opening experience. It completely changed the way I view and live my life.
I don’t always get the same amount of spoons everyday. Some days are really good and I can get alot done and still do everything that makes me happy at the same time. The next time one of those days come, I’m going to tackle my daughter’s dresser and get that reorganized. On the bad days, I have just enough spoons to do the basics and even that is a struggle. When you live life knowing that you only have so much energy, you do have to drastically prioritize.
The big question I ask myself about anything is: Is anybody going to care about this when I’m dead? Is anyone going to care if I cooked my family healthy meals when I’m dead? Yes, because some of our strongest memories center around food. Is anybody going to care that my living room was dusted when I’m dead? I don’t know if people will even remember what it looked like, much less if it was dusted. Is anyone going to care if my roots were showing for two weeks when I’m dead? No.
I recently thought about taking up photography as a hobby. It is something that has always interested me and now, with a small child, I really want to create beautiful pictures of her. So, I asked myself if anyone would care about me taking pretty pictures when I’m dead? I decided that if I had some nice portraits of my child for her when she gets older, that might be important. I have pictures in my home of great-grand parents that I’ve never even met. So, I spend some of my precious spoons per week dedicated to studying and practicing photography.
I’ll admit that my approach won’t work for everyone. I only have one toddler and a small house, both by choice because I know my limits. People with bigger families and bigger homes might have more of the “basic” stuff to do than I do. But I think keeping life simple and not living up to the expectations of others is a valuable thing, whether you are healthy or sick, rich or poor, young or old. The real question is: When you are dead, would you rather your kids remember all the stuff you did or remember the way that you made them feel?