Roughly ten minutes have elapsed since I sat down to write this essay. No, I have not been sitting here pondering how to begin. Rather, I have been spooning a container of baby yogurt into my 2-year-old's mouth. You would think that I would have fed him before sitting down to write, but things don't always work the way I'd like them to any more.
The yogurt container in question was sitting on the coffee table, having been rejected by my little guy ten minutes earlier. Naturally, the minute I pulled out my laptop, he walked up to me with a spoonful of yogurt and, with eyes as big as an animated character, handed me the spoon. Considering that he's been apparently subsisting on air and water lately, whenever I am given the gift of the option of feeding him, I jump right on it.
While we have established a pretty regular routine, each day is different, and I've learned to adjust. One day, my toddler happily helps with errands: babbling cheerfully as we cross off items on my shopping list "Apples!" he exclaims. "Honey! Rogurt!" (That, of course, is his mispronunciation of yogurt.) On these days, shoppers and cashiers alike coo over him: "He's so cute! Mommy's little helper."
On other days, he rails against the injustice of being forced to sit in a shopping cart. If he will allow me to put him down, we can still shop, albeit slowly as he "helps me" steer the cart. But if he keeps insisting "Up! Up!" then I have two choices: either put him back in the cart, where he'll wail throughout the entire shop, a noise that's probably audible in the next county, or I balance him on my hip, pushing the cart with the other hand. Either way, I'm likely to scan my list for only the essential items and leave the rest for another day.
The shopping list isn't the only thing to get reordered according to my new priorities. I struggle to work in writing and social networking between diaper changes, naptime, and "Mommy time." On his most cooperative days, my budding train engineer happily amuses himself for hours by lining up all of his cars on the coffee table and pushing them, one by one, off the edge. (This is why toddlers should never be hired to drive real trains.) Even on those days, though, he'll climb up on the couch next to me, demanding, "Hugs, hugs." If I'm in the middle of a thought, I often drop it. So if you've been waiting for an e-mail response from me for months, you should probably try again. Chances are, it fell victim to a hug.
If it weren't for my smart phone, I'd be even more of a mess. I've created several "to do" lists on an app that allows me to schedule regular deadlines as well as one-time tasks. It even has an optional reminder that will send you an alert when your're overdue for a task. Usually, by the third or fourth time I've hit "snooze" on the reminder to trim the cat's claws, I actually do it.
The sad thing is, I was never terribly organized to begin with. So it should come as little surprise that the day-to-day tedium (and sleep deprivation, but that's a topic for another time) are taking their toll. Following the advice of a fellow writer mom, however, I'm lowering my expectations. I'm praising myself for small accomplishments: even if that means a mere 600 words.
These little accomplishments are important, and they add up. Today, however, I don't know what makes me proudest: the 600 words or feeding my little guy a whole container of yogurt.
Read "Belated Mommy" in Order from the Project Outline