Goals and letters.

Being a mom.
It's hard to believe, but my friend Sima and I have been emailing each other 5 goals and a daily intention every weekday morning for the past 3 1/2 years. (Whoah.) When I went on maternity leave a few weeks ago, it was super-bizarre to have days that were not structured around a short list of tasks to get done.

I went from super-bizarre to downright panicked last week as we hit day 10 of "Keeping Our Baby Alive." I've been spending upwards of 16 hours a day breastfeeding, 6-7 hours sleeping... and the spare bits in-between showering and eating yogurt. I get it. That's the priority these days. But I miss the good old days of feeling even a little bit accomplished at the end of the afternoon.

So! I wrote to Sima and told her that I was back in! Instead of 5 goals and an intention, I now email her ONE goal and an intention every morning. One goal is a lot some days, but damn if it doesn't help me feel better about the crazy newborn times we're living in.

Here are some examples of my single goals from the past week:
  • During one of Noah's naps, open my computer and upload pix. If I'm feeling especially energetic, choose one for the baby announcement.
  • Look up what to dress Noah in to go outside in this cold!
  • Either walk a block or open a window for a few min for fresh air.
  • Lay down for at least 30 minutes today.
  • Talk to Andrea on phone about breast feeding positions.
Not brain surgery! And yet so, so helpful. Just for kicks, here are some of my intentions:
  • Make it through the day with light expectations
  • Go with Noah's flow.
  • Remember to work within the feedings-- I can read tonight while he cluster feeds. During the day I should wear him and eat lunch, prepare stuff for laundry, etc! 
  • Have a more normal day.
  • When negative thoughts come in, let them flow through and out instead of getting trapped in me.
I write about this because I think it can be easy to assume that life is all or nothing when you have a baby. You can't have the same exact life you used to... but you also don't need to settle for the opposite. Look for small ways to feel accomplished or proud or motivated or productive or whatever you need. One goal is better than none!


All work and no play make Jack a dull boy... well, the same is true for me. I literally spend the whole day thinking "wash this bottle," "change this onesie," "set my alarm for an hour from now." They're robotic tasks and when you do robotic tasks day after day, you start to miss the deeper thinking you used to do.

Without any conscious prodding on my part, I felt the urge to write a letter to someone last week. Noah was sleeping for an hour and I had a chai latte on-hand, so I sat at my desk and pulled out some stationary. I spent a few minutes thinking about who I'd like to write to and then put pen to paper. An hour later, I sealed the envelope, added a stamp, and sent Chris downstairs to throw it in the mailbox.

There is something so gratifying about the slow, meandering way one must think when hand-writing a letter. For that hour I allowed myself to think about parenting and the crazy life things that have been going on here in a deeper way than the daily tasks they currently represent. I started to explore my feelings on what it meant to be a mom, how I felt about being a home during the day, how Chris has emerged as a father. It felt great.

And so now, most afternoons, I pull out my stationary and flip through my mental catalog of friends and family around the world. I find someone that I'm compelled to write to and I spend a little chunk of time writing... it has been an amazing energy boost most afternoons. Even though the person I'm writing to isn't here, it really does feel like I just spent an hour having a coffee with him or her. Because my mind is with them, I end the hour feeling full and social, albeit in a different way than I ever imagined.

So. Letters and goals! Not just for the non-parents of the world anymore! Just a few small ideas for those of you headed shortly into parenting (or those of you already there!). 


Sarahmia said...

I LOVE getting letters, and writing them too :) write to me, write to meeeeeee! :D

So glad that you're settling in with Noah, I can imagine that the transition is enormous right now. It's amazing that you're able to find the time to update your blog, so glad we can get a sneak peak in still :)

Kate said...

I loved this post! And I love the idea of emailing a friend with a few daily goals & intentions, so much so that I am starting this with a friend for the month of November, to see how it goes. Both of us are excited about it! Thank you Jen, for being a steady source of inspiration :)