Life is busy. Especially for mothers of young babies. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and frustrated at the chores, errands, phone calls, appointments and small tasks that require attention but seem impossible to get to. Many of us come to mothering straight from jobs where we have been able to accomplish tasks throughout the day. Others are Type A personalities and like nothing better than checking off a list of chores that have been completed. And some, while less inclined to lists, are very aware of how little they are able to do while mothering an infant.
Babies have their own unique rhythm and feeding needs which can change from day to day; sometimes babies are content and other times fussy. Babies have growth spurts when they need to eat more often, they teeth, like to be held and rocked, sleep best when they are close to us and have days when they are just plain wakeful. Babies eat frequently and seem to miss us when we are out of sight.
It can be overwhelming and discouraging to have a baby who is needing so much of us while our list of “to do” items grows longer. It seems the more we want our baby to need less of us, the more of us gets needed.
Clearly, the life we once knew where lists and tasks were easily accomplished is quite impossible with the changing day-to-day rhythm of a baby.
A group of very wise mothers, who have raised many, many babies, commented recently that they wished they had worried less about the state of their houses, and the chores that needed attention, and instead accepted that babies’ needs are more important than anything else. They shared how they had felt pressured to keep up with tasks, and wanted to appear to have things under control, despite being unable to do so, and had often stressed about things that are of no relevance to them now that their children are grown.
Can we alter our thought process and allow ourselves to be in the moment, with our thoughts firmly in the present, not letting the “to do” list take away from the time that we are mothering our babies? Can we let go of unrealistic expectations and move through our days in a simpler way? After all, worrying and fretting about errands and chores won’t change anything, except possibly our attitude of acceptance, and it certainly won’t help our babies feel settled and content. Small babies can easily sense when their mothers are out of sorts and their attention elsewhere.
Our culture has convinced us that we can do it all, have it all, be it all…
And then we become mothers. Our bodies change, our minds change, and most importantly, our hearts change.
It can be a giant leap into the unknown when we decide that the present is where we choose to live. When we deliberately slow down, quiet our minds and simplify our days to the point that we are in the moment, living minute by minute, enjoying our connection with our babies, allowing ourselves to embrace the slower, less frantic pace that babies seem to like best.
Easy? Not necessarily. Possible? Yes.
Perhaps we just need to give ourselves permission to be present in our mothering. No longer driven by culture’s expectations but instead letting our babies’ need for our presence be our guide.
After all, there is always tomorrow, next week, next year. And our babies need us now.