Who needs external validation? Me, apparently.

My mother-in-law left this morning.  She spent a glorious ten days with us.  Now, I know that the stereotypical mother-in-law may not be a welcome house-guest, but thankfully, my mother-in-law is hardly stereotypical!    I won’t go into detail about the massive amount of help she provided, but will just mention that I am extremely well-rested.

Now that the radio silence is over, we will hopefully by back to our regularly scheduled programming.  Things are going to be a little hectic here soon, not just on account of my lack of extra hands, or my husband’s crazy working schedule.  No, no, the busy-making is my own doing.  I’m starting up the piano lessons again (largely in part to the attrition from my last piano-teaching hiatus; I lost most of my studio back when Little Man was a newborn), have a performance in a week, and another one shortly after that.  Whee!

While I am almost certainly guilty of over-commitment, I am happiest when busy.  It’s usually feast or famine with potential projects.  I’m either spending much of my day leisurely drinking coffee and catching up on blogs (well, as leisurely as a mommy of tiny ones can get), or multi-tasking like a champ.  I feel much more productive when I can check off a large number of tasks off of my to-do list.

thank goodness for self-entertaining toddlers!

Really, though, as a mommy wife, homemaker, etc., my permanent to-do list is always large enough that it should provide that productive feeling.  It doesn’t though.  I don’t acknowledge the tasks.  Why not?  Dunno.  Maybe because they are so constant, or necessary, or implied.  Or maybe because there’s no external reinforcement; it’s all me.

What would a typical day’s to-do list look like?

  • feed the baby
  • put baby in his bouncy seat
  • make coffee
  • take Little Man out of crib
  • change LM’s diaper
  • feed LM breakfast (no small task, that one)
  • drink coffee
  • clean LM’s hands
  • change the baby’s diaper
  • feed the baby
  • put the baby in his bouncy seat
  • clean up from breakfast
  • maybe eat something
  • play with LM
  • give the baby the pacifier
  • change LM’s diaper
  • give the paci back to the baby
  • give LM a snack
  • change the baby
  • feed the baby
  • put the baby in his bouncy seat
  • read LM a book
  • give the baby the pacifier
  • give the baby another pacifier, as LM took the original one

Okay, I lost my motivation to complete the list, and I wasn’t even up to lunch.  You get the idea, though.  It’s A LOT of things to do.  All the time.  It’s such a routine, though, that I really don’t notice.  It’s simply the structure of my day.  This may be why I don’t feel like a majorly successful accomplisher every day (yes, I know accomplisher is not a word).  But I should.  We all should.  Give yourself a pat on the back, right now.  Good job.


16 thoughts on “Who needs external validation? Me, apparently.

  1. I have a wonderful book by naomi Stadlen called What Mothers Do. She argues that a mother’s main task is not the routine things you wrote here, it’s comforting the baby that only the mother (or someone who spends copious amounts of time with the baby) can do. It’s anticipating what the baby needs that is the specialized skill. So that is what you should be patting yourself on the back for.

  2. My husband’s uncle died this past week and he had to fly to NJ for two days. I asked him to take one of the kids with him, and since Sophie had school, we decided it would be better if he took Joey with him. He has a brand new perspective on what my days are like, especially because my in-law’s house is not even the teensiest bit baby-proof. He spent every waking moment running around after Joey keeping him out of things, inside of things, from climbing onto or under things, and many other THINGS … very tiresome, indeed. He has a greater appreciation for why, some days, I just don’t get a lot accomplished at home. He said, “I get it now, I totally understand.”

    It is nice to have someone (especially my husband) appreciate and acknowledge what, for me, is a daily routine. We DO do a lot, especially with two little ones wanting/needing attention all the time. I think my husband would gladly have a poke in the eye with a sharp stick than undertake a huge grocery shopping trip by himself with two kids. You know, the routine stuff we do all the time without a thought. Like Hannah said, it’s “What Mothers Do.”

    1. I’m sorry about your husband’s uncle; were they close? It’s definitely nice to have your husband really appreciate your mommying. My husband watches the kids every Sunday when I’m teaching piano lessons. Until then, he didn’t realize how tiring it can be. Wonderful, but very tiring! I’m cracking up at your description of your husband’s aversion to shopping. Ha!

  3. It’s not even that the list starts over again the next day, but you could be crazy busy all day with nothing to “show” for it, meaning there’s still laundry, dishes, plus all these little people ( and a few big ones) expect dinner! Didn’t we eat yesterday?

  4. You are busy! I remember that list. Though, in mine, there were lots of lots of “pull Emily out of the trash can” or “clean up Emily’s cracker mess” or, well, you get the picture. : ) Wait a second…those still ARE on my lists. And now Andrew is included as well. Hmmmm…..

    I am glad that you are alive and well!! Keep loving that newborn and taking care of yourself.

    (P.S. As one mom of two to another, go easy on yourself. You’ve just given birth and you still have a toddler. I’m not necessarily referring to your activities, more the way you think of how much you are accomplishing. Believe me, you are going so much more than you think you are. Though, I’m sure you already know all this.)

  5. I completely understand. When writing up a to-do list for the day, I don’t usually take into account feedings, naps, clean-up, play time, reading books, going to the bathroom, etc. So I end up having at least double, if not triple, the amount of work I wanted to do (such as cleaning a closet, washing the floors, making supper – the “extras”). I’ve found that if I break up any job I want to do into really tiny steps, then I can cross more off my list. Like “wash the floors” becomes “sweep kitchen”, “wash kitchen floor”, “sweep dining room”, “wash dining room”, etc. That way, if I don’t get to the entire house, at least SOMETHING got done. And any list I write up, I automatically forgive myself if half of it isn’t completed. Otherwise I’d spend my life frustrated (which, some days, I do).

    And having in-laws that help out is WONDERFUL!! Mine are coming in 3 weeks, hence my new cleaning/organising obsession. They’ve already promised to make shabbos for us!

    What happened to the “no paci” thing? I thought you weren’t a fan. Not that it’s a problem, I also thought I wouldn’t use it and ended up with a crib paci. Just wondering!

    1. Yay for your in-laws coming! That’s great! I also like your method of breaking down chores into smaller bits. Smart.

      As for the paci thing, I was more anti-paci with Moshe since he was already a toddler when he discovered the paci, and I felt like it interfered with his eating, talking development, etc. Basically, I had a lot of the down sides and not much of the positives. I was hoping that this baby would take a pacifier so he would be more of a self-soother, since I also have Moshe to contend with. It really works beautifully, except now Moshe takes the paci when it falls out of the baby’s mouth. We’re strategizing about that.

  6. It’s probably because, like you said, this is all part of your routine. When you do something a little out of the ordinary (like bake a cake or go to play for a concert) then you feel accomplished. But the truth is, if you look at what you do on any given day, it’s enough to make you feel like you’ve done a lot! Taking care of two kids while keeping the house running smoothly (cooking, cleaning…) and staying on your toes is a BIG job!!

    In my house there’s a magical hamper – you put the clothes in dirty and they end up in your drawer all nicely folded – I wonder how that happens!!

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