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Three year revolution

When I started writing this column on parenting and family, I was eight months pregnant with my first baby. Being pretty green in the parenting role, I worried that I’d find enough to write about. Nearly three years have gone by in a blur. They have been the strangest, most radical years of my life. From the moment I first held that purplish bundle in her mint green hospital hat – her face surprisingly unfamiliar – my life has been revolutionized, and this column has been a kind of play-by-play of my re-doing. Taking a moment to step back from the insanity, here are a few things I’ve learned.

1. A lot can be accomplished in an hour. I think I have become a bit of a superhero of time management (note that this is not remotely the same as organization – not even a distant cousin of organization; see number 3). Actually, it’s more like I’ve become a superhero at time filling. In an hour, I can start dinner, throw in two loads of laundry, wipe down a bathroom, water the tomatoes, answer e-mails and pick up a thousand toys, all whilst discussing the probability of Snow White’s shoes fitting Cinderella’s feet. My pre-baby self would be shocked at this. I remember a time when I panicked at the idea of having only an hour to get ready for work. An hour. Getting ready for work now consists of wiping yogurt smears off my top and brushing some powder through my unwashed hair. This brings me to the next point.

2. Vanity is a luxury. Looking nice is nice. It feels nice. But when you have to choose between trying on a different pair of pants or comforting your wailing toddler who just doesn’t want you to go, the pants lose every time. And the funny thing is, it doesn’t matter. An error in fashion judgment used to cost me a day of self-consciousness. Now I don’t care. And the reason I don’t care is not that I value myself less, it’s that I value myself for different reasons. Maintaining patience, seeing beyond toddler behaviour, savouring moments – these are the things that make me feel good about myself, that give me a sense of accomplishment in a day. I try to take care of myself too, but a mismatched pair of pants is small beans.

3. The brain has a fill line. Returning to point 1, as much as I can accomplish a lot of work in an hour, it’s amazing how many important details I can forget. My husband recently confessed that he used to count on me to keep him organized, but since I’ve had the baby. . . . He’s right. I’m totally useless at organization these days. My mind is so full of Clare and her needs, there isn’t room for much else. Dentist appointments? Whatever. They can always be rescheduled. Baby brain is a thing, but I’m not sure what it gets called when the baby is toilet trained and, well, really not a baby anymore. This leads to. . .

4. Working and parenting are terrible bedfellows (in my opinion). Teaching is a tricky job, and one of the things I used to have going for me was organization. Even if my lesson planning was less than creative, at least my photocopies were ready and my lecture prepped. And then I became a mom (see number 3). Without organization or a few extra hours to work out the bugs in my planning, I have turned into a hurricane of a teacher, always on the move, stuff flying everywhere. I am always one step behind and have become a pro at apologizing; ditto with my parenting role.  

5. Perfect joy is watching your child flourish. There’s nothing like it, absolutely nothing. No success I’ve experienced, no moment of beauty, no surge of emotion from my past life comes close to watching my daughter’s glorious, joyful, tender self unfold into the world. I would gladly pay for this privilege with every mismatched pair of pants, embarrassing teaching moment, harried hour of frantic activity. This is God’s best gift, and I love the woman who is rising to meet it and leaving behind all the nonsense that once seemed so important. What a magnificent revolution.

Author

  • Emily Cramer

    Emily Cramer grew up in the Toronto area and spent most of her twenties living nomadically. She completed her English B.A. in New Brunswick (1999), burned through some existential angst in eastern Ontario and in Scotland, and finally wrapped up a Master’s in Christianity & the Arts in British Columbia (2008). She now lives in Barrie, Ontario with her husband and daughter, where she works as a college Communications teacher and hopes to stay put, at least for awhile. She has been privileged with a number of writing opportunities over the years, such as a summer newspaper column on the natural environment and a novella for her graduating thesis, and is now feeling honoured to be able to explore the next leg of her travels - parenting and family life - with the CC.

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