Oddly enough, one of the biggest things that scares me about having a baby is feeling like I’m going to have to stop improving myself. Most of my life seems to be spent “working on” goals that I never achieve. Losing weight, making art, working on the house, cooking more, keeping the house clean, become proficient in something. As it is I constantly feel like I’m getting nowhere with these things, and now throw a baby into the mix and my goals are going to be absurdly out of reach. I know it will only be temporary, but “temporary” could mean five or ten years for all I know.
But even if I weren’t having a baby, I’m not sure it would mean getting any closer to these goals, which is so frustrating. Why are they so elusive? Why can’t I seem to stick to anything? I guess I never followed in the great “getting things done” tradition of SMART goals – it’s 7am so don’t ask me to remember what that acronym stands for, but I know the M stands for “measurable”, which I’ve never done. “Lose weight” isn’t a goal – “lose ten pounds by April 30th” is. Another issue is that I take on too much – I get so excited about my goals that I make too many of them and that in itself is setting myself up for failure. I know that I need to focus on one or two things at a time, but the thought of leaving the other 20 things by the wayside freaks me out, and I can’t seem to even choose the one or two MOST important things. I suppose maybe the point isn’t to completely leave the other things untouched, but at least to commit to the top one or two and work on the rest whenever I feel like it.
The thing about having a baby is that you’re absolutely surrounded by a culture of mommy martyrs who would laugh at the idea that you would have time to do ANYTHING but fulfill your child’s every need 27 hours a day, 9 days a week. And I obviously know that the first few months that’s probably true. But I never understand all these drastic statements like, “Taking a five minute shower is a complete luxury and I get to do it once a week.” Like, is that really a thing? I’m sure I’ll live to eat my words, but I just refuse to believe that a baby is literally a 24-hour-a-day time suck, and that it will be ten years before you’ll be able to go to the bathroom with the door closed. Is it really true, or have we just become such a culture of extremists that we feel the need to make this basic process of species propagation into something more complicated than it needs to be just to validate our existence?
Sometimes when I get in a panic about this, I try to think about artists and how they raise their children. I follow a few bloggers who have children, and the kids don’t seem to take front and center, at least on their blogs. They are prolific and make things and take beautiful photographs and talk about things that aren’t E.R. visits and poopy diaper stories. I guess thus far I don’t get the appeal in that stuff. One of my most hated things is internet meme’s describing life “before kids” and “after kids”, because it seems to just reinforce the idea that once you have kids, your life basically sucks forever, and I just don’t see the humor in that or the benefit of perpetuating it. Not to say that I won’t find humor in things once they’re happening, but if I’m going to go to the trouble of posting something funny on Facebook it’s going to be like a Louie C.K. clip and not something about how your Christmas tree looks before and after you have kids.
I think artists start out as somewhat selfish – you would really have to be in order to spend your life doing something self-indulgent like making art. And don’t get me wrong, I mean that in the best of ways, which is what is so wonderful about art – you’re really doing it for no other real reason other than to make yourself happy, and if other people get enjoyment out of it all the better. So I think they’re a good model to look at with having children, because they seem to be able to balance it and not give into the temptation of making your children your entire existence and identity.
I could seriously go on and on about this, but it’s time to get up and get ready for work. Getting out of bed at 7:38, what a luxury for all the moms out there, amiright?!?