One Tuesday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I was driving home from visiting my sister and her baby. It was quarter to five when I was coming off the Harbour Bridge and I glanced at the tinted glass buildings which surround the freeway. Beyond the glass, a myriad of desks, black-suited people and computers. The same scene on repeat in building after building, floor after floor all around me.
After having worked in an office for the last nine years, I was struck by the fact that I wasn’t sitting at any such desk. Eva, our baby girl, was quietly sleeping in her capsule on the back seat. Looking after her may be a full-time job, but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. It’s a privilege to be on maternity leave for 12 months. I’m very thankful for my daughter, very thankful that I get to be a mum and so happy to be in this current season of life.
But I don’t feel thankful all the time. Just that morning I’d been feeling overwhelmed. There seemed to be so many things on my to-do lists. Writing another post on here was one of the items.
I always expected that having a baby would challenge my task-driven tendencies. I love ticking things off my lists. I also knew that looking after a baby would keep me pretty busy, although I didn’t fathom just how much time caring for a baby actually takes. This is not a complaint. I suppose I thought that being home all day most days, that there would still be time in between to do other things. I was wrong. At the moment our little one has a maximum of three short naps a day, so in between having a shower, doing the washing, preparing dinner, there is only the tiniest bit of time on the side. If I’m feeling motivated I can be quite productive in half an hour. I made a muesli slice during one of her naps last week. That was my major accomplishment for the whole day!
I started writing this post four days ago. I’m learning that other things are possible but they just get done slowly. I still write a list each day, and I have an ongoing, long-term list called “Things to do in the little moments” – so that when I do have moments, I don’t get stuck wondering what to do next.
I am gradually trying to redefine ‘productive’. The value of my days can’t be measured by items ticked off a list. Loving Eva – from feeding, cleaning and clothing her to singing, reading books and playing with her is an incredibly worthwhile way to spend my days. I have a precious and unique opportunity to invest in her life. If I get some washing done and dinner on the table, great. But the dreams of sewing things, blog posts and various other creative projects whirling around in my head – well they are on my long-term to-do list – I will do them if I get a chance in the little moments.
And since I don’t have to meet deadlines or account for my days to my employer, some of the questions I probably should be asking at the end of each day are instead – What can I be thankful for today? Have I honoured God with my time? Have I loved and enjoyed my daughter? Served my husband? Invested in relationships with others? For those things will count in the end.