This is part two of the Prioritizing Parenting posts. You can read The Pursuit of Us: Part One here.
In the past two months I have maintained hours at my job, taking me away from home 30 to 60 hours every weekend, while investing at least 40 hours of my weekdays into nursing school. The kids have transitioned to a 5 day a week preschool, this being the first time our Tiny Prince has been kept outside of our home. To top it all off, the S.O. is one of the “Essential-Personnel” that is working for free until Congress can resolve this nasty budget crisis. Right now life feels like it is running at a break-neck pace. We start our days at 530 and every single minute is filled with school, work, kids, or studying. There are days that I jokingly say that I was so busy I forgot to feed the kids! On the contrary though, I am finding more time to focus on my kids than I did before we made this transition, and I am (mostly) feeling less stress than I used to experience. I believe all of this stems from knowing that this is only temporary; no matter how many dishes are stacked in the sink, I will take the time to rock my kids and savor our bedtime routines. No matter how many med-sheets I have to write, my kids will come first. They have to. I choose it to be so.
I will not allow the absolute chaos of racing from one exam to the next, one shift to another, one paycheck to the uncertainty of the next to be the excuse for why I am missing out on being their Mama. I choose to keep myself mindful of the amount of time I am investing in them each and everyday. A dear girlfriend gave me a great piece of advice a few months ago. She said something along these lines; “Get up earlier than you need to everyday, spend that extra time in the morning snuggling with your kids and giving them attention. Don’t be that Mom that’s shoving them through the door at school with one shoe on and a half eaten breakfast. The mornings are your chance to set the tone for not only your day, but more importantly theirs.” Gordon Neufeld reemphasized this point in his book by encouraging parents to take a few moments every morning to “collect” their children and strengthen the bond that is shared. I took this advice to heart and I am working on changing my routine to accommodate my role as a mother first.
I am putting a cap on how many hours I will spend at school, and have intentionally built family time into everyday. When I look at my commitments sometime I still catch myself shifting time around in ways that will decrease my goal of increasing my investment in my kids. A buddy of mine recently started a business. He has been working towards this dream for several years, but now that his hard work is a reality, he sees progress with his kids starting to slip. In our last conversation he told me with not one hint of resentment in his voice that he was closing the business. End of story. His priority is not the pursuit of more money, more stuff, or more accomplishments- but it is his family. As I am learning balance, growing as a mother and a partner, and taking the shape of a women I am proud to be, I remind myself of the level of commitment that my friend exemplifies in his choices.
My draft for my long term goals is set. I call it a draft simply because by the time I reach that point I will have evolved even more, become even more comfortable in my skin and more confident in my convictions. In the short-term view, we are still adjusting to a new routine, a new preschool, and new set of finances, and hopefully soon- a new house. Every morning I tiptoe into their rooms, stroke their tussled hair, and sing “Good morning, good morning, good morning – – – to you!” in the same tone my mother always sang to me. When they open their sleepy eyes, and crawl into my arms with a smile, I am reminded of what my ultimate goal in life is. It comes in two tiny packages that are full of endless potential and unconditional love.