Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 128: Setting Expectations, Bill Burr, and Tubby Todd.

My Latest Snag: Tubby Todd.

I wrote about this ointment in a roundup of my favorite new baby discoveries, but I am so pot-committed (ha!) to this wunderproduct that I just ordered the bigger 8 oz size. Seriously — if your baby is struggling with any kind of skin issue, whether it be cradle cap or dry skin or diaper rash or chafing or acne, give this a try. This totally transformed micro’s dry skin (the pediatrician remarked on it!) and has also cleared up a couple of cases of acne.

You’re Sooooo Popular: The Popover Dress.

The most popular items on the blog this week:

+This tiered popover dress (now comes in the cutest colors!)

+A lot of upvotes for my purchase of these Chanel flats

+Golden Goose sneaks, on super sale.

+A pretty floral linen number for under $60.

+My favorite wedding guest dress.

+A hand-painted pouch at a great price.

+Fancy ironing water.

#Turbothot: Setting Expectations.

I feel like I’ve written about designing my day and daily goal-setting fifty nine times in the last few weeks, but its recurrence as a topic of interest should underscore the extent to which I am grappling with these issues. Since micro was born (heck, since mini was born), I’ve struggled with setting appropriate expectations for what I can accomplish in a day. There are still days where I look at my to-dos for the day at 7 P.M. and feel like a failure. Oh shoot, I meant to schedule mini’s haircut…I guess I’ll finish reading that parent guidebook tomorrow…I need to take out cash for the sitter tomorrow, on the way to my doctor appointment! Etc.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have had to take a deep breath and remind myself that I am caring for a newborn, that babies don’t keep, and that one day I will look back and regret doing anything but laying in bed with micro. Come to think of it, one day soon, I will also regret doing anything but sitting on the floor with mini, coloring or playing with her Little People or “making food,” as she will soon be off to school for most of the week and I will miss her chirping voice and prying fingers and inquisitive eyes with a fierceness I am already tasting. A well-intentioned friend told me I should give myself a break and let the nontrivial things fall by the wayside, like cleaning the apartment and ironing my sheets, and that maybe I should take a proper maternity break anyhow, even if only for a week or two, even if it’s been weeks since micro was born, especially as I am barreling into transitioning mini to school and moving our family to a larger apartment. On the surface of it, reasonable suggestions, and yet — I live in the real world, I write for a living, I run a busy household, I am horrifically type A, and things need to get done.

In short: I bristled. And I realized that I am having the hardest time letting go of or reprioritizing anything on my list. I did hire a cleaning service to help, but a cleaning service will not assist with the routine, Sisyphean, multiple-times-a-day cycles of tidying toys, breaking down the activity mat to make space in the living room, emptying the dishwasher, loading the dishwasher, wiping down the play table and dinner table, organizing bottles, folding laundry, etc. These are tasks that simply must get done because we live in such a small parcel of space and, for me at least, a cluttered home is a cluttered mind. I cannot sit down to write without tidying the entire living area, and since I write daily–well, you do the math.

There was a funny little bit Bill Burr did in a comedy special a few years ago in which he pokes fun at mothers for claiming that they have “the most difficult job in the whole planet.” (Don’t watch if you’re feeling testy, mamas. And incidentally, in all seriousness, I still believe that being a stay-at-home mother — which I am not — is one of the tippy top most difficult jobs on the planet.) Watching this was a good reminder that even though motherhood can be exhausting and overwhelming in all of its minutaie, and even though I am entitled to make space for the occasional frustration and fatigue it engenders in me, that at the end of the day, I am doing little, lightweight things for people I love and that many of my tasks are blessedly “low-stakes.” After all, there is slack in my day; I have set the parameters I would like to live up to, but no one is fired or injured if they don’t get done. And though their volume and redundancy are staggering, none of my tasks are individually difficult or intellectually demanding or physically perilous. It was helpful to re-center myself around these truths, to put my daily load in perspective. (Especially since my other “job” — writing this blog! — is such a source of joy and release for me, almost like a reward after my household chores are complete.) Though I am big on the notion that the comparison game is not a particularly helpful mental exercise — i.e., you are still entitled to feel the way you feel, even if you acknowledge that there are others who have things rougher than you do — Burr helped me take a step back and say, “OK, Jen. Nothing is that dire here. You’re bordering on the solipsistic here. You’re not seeing the forest for the trees. Take the long view.”

Still, I am finding it difficult. I loathe the sensations of failure and disorderliness, and even if I am confronting them in ultimately trivial venues, they do not sit well with me.

I’ll close here by saying that one thing that I continue to find helpful as I navigate these busy days of motherhood is writing down literally every single thing I want to do at the outset of the day, even tasks as minute as “water the plant,” “tummy time for micro,” “vitamin D drop,” “order pull-ups,” “walk Tilly.” In short, even the daily things that always need doing. Because then I can pause mid-morning and tick off a whole mess of things that have been on my mind and feel as though I’ve made progress. This way, too, even if I end up reassigning tasks to the next day’s to do list, I feel some measure of success.

Any other tips, Magpies, whether you have children or not?!

P.S. After writing the above bit on Burr, I went out to pick up wrapping paper for a nephew’s birthday gift and drop off the dry cleaning and the entire time, I was positively agonizing over whether or not to include that reference after all, because I find the routine problematic and potentially offensive to some. It’s a risky business, his little bit, as he has no children and cannot possibly imagine what goes into a day of motherhood. And while he made me laugh, I will admit that I couldn’t help but linger over his underlying assumption that the physical labor of disaster repair — i.e., a job outside the home that is almost always filled by men — is intrinsically “greater than” the emotional labor of caring for a child, i.e., a job inside the home that is almost always filled by women. The “emotional quotient” of the latter is, on further inspection, why motherhood seems to feel as all-consuming as it does. If it were just the chores and tasks and routines, it would be one thing, but they are always shot through with concern and love and guilt and oh, the wild tangle of emotions elicited by your child. I could dive deeper into this problem of gendered spheres but I’ll let it go and appreciate Burr for affording me a sense of perspective.

Post-Scripts: A Postpartum Dress.

+This is a great snag for an expecting mom — ideal for those early days post-partum when nothing fits, you’re nursing, and the name of the game is loose and easy-to-not-show stains.

+Had to order this in the pink!

+What do you want to do with your one wild and precious life?

+This is such a sweet gift for a little girl! Contemplating buying one for mini, who loves emulating me in all things — including accessorizing.

+Love the idea of tying my hair back with this chic accessory, especially now that it’s long enough to wear regularly in a low, chic pony!

+Interesting color palette in this floral, tiered dress from a new-to-me label.

+This reminds me of my beloved Innika Choo dress — but without the pricetag!

+Things that surprised me about having a c-section.

+Speaking of black gingham: THIS. IS. MAJOR.

+Contemplating enrolling mini in an afterschool or weekend activity like soccer or ballet. How darling is this doll if we go with the latter?

+This might just be the perfect heel.

+And these are so badass for fall with black skinnies and a black blouse.

6 Comments

  1. This resonated so much with me! I too would bristle at that suggestion. Thank you so much for putting my jumble of thoughts and emotions into words so eloquently.

  2. I, too, find it so helpful to make to-do lists (the more minutiae included, the better, IMO) and relish checking each one off. I use 2 weekly lists: one personal, one work — and I assign a day to each task & color-code them with these highlighters: https://www.jetpens.com/Stabilo-Swing-Cool-Highlighter-Pastel-6-Color-Set/pd/24546 (there’s one for each weekday + one for the weekend; I lump Sat + Sun together because I typically have fewer to-dos on those days!)

    xx

  3. I can 100 percent relate on the mom life and to do list. I have been working on a system and I love brain dumping it all and then choosing the one thing! I use a weekly planner to brain drop on the side and my one thing goes on the bottom of each day, along with a couple of small have to items…this video explains so much better than I could https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWstD4NB4CY Good luck! xoxo

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