Lessons Learned

When you're a person without children, your time is your own. From the moment you get up in the morning to the second your head hits the pillow for a full and glorious night's sleep in the evening, your choices dictate that day's events. Sure, you have to go to work to pay your bills, so you don't exactly make that choice. And everyone has certain daily obligations they have to meet. But those other 13 or so hours? Those are yours. Want to take a walk in the crisp fall air during your lunch hour on a Tuesday? Go for it. Watch two hours of reality tv uninterrupted on a Thursday night? Sure. Hit the gym for a yoga class on Saturday morning? Why not? And the only person you have to consult is your significant other, if you have one. And generally, you won't find a problem there, because he or she is likely doing the exact same thing.

Such was my life prior to August 22, 2006. And what a fabulous life it was, because ultimately, I am a very selfish person. I like my "me" time. I like deciding what I want to do and when I want to do it without input from others. Including Rich.

It's ironic, then, how incompatible I am with the core tenets of motherhood: selflessness and sacrifice.

Being Isabella's mom is the single most fulfilling thing I have ever done in my 30 years. Nothing even comes close, and nothing I've ever done has made me happier. And I would do anything to be able to devote myself to her full-time, which is something I never thought I would want. My love for her is so complete, that nothing even comes close. I am incredibly lucky to have her, against all odds. I know this much is true.

But I wouldn't be honest with myself if I said I had given up this former life without thinking back fondly, at times, of what it used to be like.

Because now, it seems, I have very little free time. At all.

In those all-too-brief moments when the little darling is napping, a million ideas as to what I should do with this "free" time immediately enter my head. I should remove the 15 inches of cat hair accumulating on the living room floor before that hair joins forces with the hair on the other floors of the house and suddenly I have a fourth cat. No, I should change the very rank sheets on our bed. Scratch that, I should sterilize my pump parts, or try to get in a daytime pumping session to keep up my milk supply. No, I should throw in a load of laundry. Or pick up her toys. Or spend some time petting my cats, whom I've been sorely neglecting. No, I should shower, because really, I stink.

And then, of course, there are thoughts of the things I want to do with the time. Maybe I'll work on Ella's baby book, which I haven't touched since just after she was born. Or get started on her photo albums. Forget it, I want to blog on one of the 15 posts I keep composing in my head. No, I miss baking, so I'll make something with pumpkin in it. Or take a bath. Or hit the treadmill. Or read the newspaper from five days ago.

But of course, by the time I've chosen one of these tasks, she's awake. And she needs to be changed. Or fed. Or walked around the house because she's fussy. Or played with. Or bathed. And my plan on what to do during her napping time? Scrapped. Again. And my husband sometimes wonders what it is I do all day long.

So the number one lesson in being Isabella's mom has taught me is this: selflessness. My time isn't my own anymore. I can't come down to breakfast at 8:00am on a Saturday, grab my coffee and read the paper for the next hour, as I used to do in the pre-Ella era. And even if I could run the five miles a day I used to run before becoming pregnant, I certainly don't have the hour to devote to that kind of run now. I can't up and bake a pumpkin cheesecake at 3pm on a Sunday, or write five to six blog posts a week, as I used to, either.

I won't lie and say that I'm giving up my former life without a second thought as to what I'm missing. That I'm some sacrificial super-mom martyr, who doesn't at times pray silently into her pillow in the middle of the night that Isabella will suddenly stop screeching because she's hungry, develop the ability to walk, and hit the fridge to grab herself a bottle. Or that her 45 minute naps would just last five minutes longer so I could finish my bowl of cereal. Or my shower. Or blowdrying my hair.

But being a mother is ultimately about selflessness and I believe you can't be a good one without it. Your time isn't your own anymore. If you're breastfeeding, in many ways your body isn't your own anymore either. And that carefully crafted life you constructed for yourself before she was born? Well, let's just hope it has a long shelf-life, because it's going to be sitting untouched for awhile. And if you blog, the Save As Draft button and you quickly become intimate friends. It's taken me awhile, but I'm finally beginning to reconcile all of this in my head.

Isabella is teaching me the fine art of selflessness and the even harder-to-attain art of patience, two characteristics which formulated the very antithesis of the Kristi of just two months ago. They're a work-in-progress, but I'm on my way. She's the center of my universe, truly, and I can't wait to see what other lessons she has to impart.

Now if only I could teach her the importance of remaining silent during McDreamy time. I think in a few years, she'll understand where mommy was coming from with this one.

14 Responses to “Lessons Learned”

  1. # Blogger Shannon

    I miss the days where I could just go to the bathroom in peace... but Lorelei freaks out if I am out of her sites most days... so to the bathroom she comes... but your little girl is sooooo cute... love that photo!! and btw... love your post...  

  2. # Blogger Ramona

    It has taken me a while to reconcile the fact that I'm not going to have children, but recognizing that I basically am pretty selfish with my free time has made me realize that maybe this was just the life I'm meant to have. Your post rings very true.
    Now...go have a shower!!!  

  3. # Blogger Marie

    :-)

    nodding...

    That is all.

    (oh, and you two look wonderful!)  

  4. # Blogger Christine

    Geez that PICTURE. How cute are you two?...Cute.

    And I think any free time warrants a shower...they tend to make me feel better and think clearer. I'm sure things will get a bit easier.  

  5. # Blogger sher

    I have to go pick Glenna up at the airport, but let me say that I just adore that picture!! What a wonderful gift to greet me in the morning.

    And just ignore that cat hair. Go for the Guiness World Record!  

  6. # Blogger M

    Good God I could have written this post myself! In fact, you've inspired me to write one about the things I miss. I just can't do it this minute because someone is waking up. LOL!
    I did get your email..I just haven't gotten around to writing back. imagine that. I know you understand.
    I love the picture. I will be posting new ones of maddy soon...as soon as she naps again!  

  7. # Blogger Shannon

    I feel guilty for having so much free time and not doing much with it! If only I could give you some of my own . . .  

  8. # Blogger The Princess

    I remember feeling the same exact way after my babe was born. I found myself jealous of my husband because he still had a piece of his life that resembled himself. Me? I went from "me time" to "baby time" and have quickly learned to pencil "me time" back into the agenda for everything to run smoothly.  

  9. # Blogger CAL

    I think it's time to get rid of the cats. Maybe somebody at EK can put something in Pnews for you...

    ;)  

  10. # Blogger sunShine

    What a great pic. I know all about the lack of me time and not knowing who you are anymore. I agree with Shannon, I miss going to the bathroom in peace.  

  11. # Blogger Caryl

    21 years ago, in a galaxy far, far away......I believe that the only good thing about going back to work was I had an entire hour (lunch time) to myself. And, I got to talk to grown ups about important stuff - recent events, the new lineup on TV, the weather, etc. See what you will be missing ;-)  

  12. # Blogger annelynn

    Beautiful picture of you two! What a cutie she is.

    I'm with Shannon - I wish I could lend you some of my free time, too.  

  13. # Blogger smashedpea

    I miss my 'me' time, too. That's why this weekend, for the first time ever, we're ditching the little Doodlebum at her grandparents' place so we can go spend some time alone. Together. Without having to change diapers. Or dealing with temper tantrums. Or sitting on every neighbours' front porch.

    It feels a bit weird, but I'm also excited!  

  14. # Blogger Kristi

    Shannon-that's funny. I haul Ella into the bathroom with me in her bouncer during shower time, and she loves it.

    Ramona-I hear ya. That's why I'm so incompatible with motherhood. I love my me time!

    Marie- :)

    Christine-yeah, showers are a must for me. I may not get to it until 2pm, but I get one everyday.

    Sher-LOL. I just might beat it!

    M-I'm glad I'm not alone. I'll look for your post.

    Shannon-Can you ship freetime cross-country?

    Princess-I'm going to have to learn how to do that soon, starting this weekend!

    Cal-How funny. I just did this!
    ;)

    Sunshine-Whenever I hit the bathroom, she seems to pitch a fit. She has great timing.

    Caryl-I hear you! I can't remember what adult conversation really is anymore.

    Annelynn-Aww... thank you.

    Smashedpea-How fun! I hope you have a great trip.  

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