So, here's a confession: I'm a Type A personality. I use Google Docs to organize every aspect of my business. We moved three weeks before my baby was born, and I was hell-bent on getting the house done (ie, unpacked and decorated) before she arrived. It irritated me that there was a big blank space on our office wall where artwork needed to go. That's just a little bit of insight into my personality.
So here's how I've changed...
I'm not living with as much guilt.
Before Charlie was born, I think I might have said to myself, “OMG [because that’s how I talk to myself], how am I going to cope with this?! What if the linen closet doesn’t get organized? What if I’m not able to peruse the blogosphere for business inspiration/ways to expand/things that will make me feel inadequate? What if I (gasp) don’t have time to organize our books by color so they look really cool?” As it turns out, instead of worrying about those things, I just stopped doing them (but can I say, I'm so glad I did some of those things - like the linen closet - before she was born?!). And really, my life is far better for it.
You see, in addition to feeling like I wanted to do these things, I also somehow managed to make myself feel really guilty if I didn’t do them. If I had fun during the day, I felt like I should be working. Thus, I didn’t take advantage of one of the best parts of working from home: freedom. Seriously, people. I have no idea why I felt so compelled to complete (and dare I say stressed by the thought of?) such trivial tasks. I no longer have time to do a lot of those things, and now I feel like my life is pared down to the essentials: I work only on what I have to, and I spend the majority of my time taking care of Charlie. I am thrilled by the fact that “taking care of Charlie” encompasses such activities as: meeting other women with new babies and having a relaxed lunch in the park, going shopping for baby clothes, and and staring at the cutest face on the planet (granted this job also includes cleaning up projectile baby poop, but we’re not focusing on that right now). And guess what? A lot of that is fun, and I’m not feeling even one shred of guilt about it.
And as for using the Internet to better my business? I found that I didn't need to use the Internet to better my business. Reading "professional" blogs stressed me out. They made me feel like I should be moving faster, that my business isn't expanding quickly enough, that I should be pumping out ready-made designs at an exponential rate. The stress squelched my creativity and made it hard to come up with original ideas. Since I've stepped back from that, I've been able to come up with some new, creative ways to solve problems I've been pondering for at least a year. It's really refreshing.
I've developed patience.
The other way I've changed is that I have developed patience, which has surprised no one more than me. To illustrate this point, I'll tell you a little story.
Once upon a time, Y and I lived in Ohio. In Ohio, they have car washes like nothing I’ve ever seen: they’re like the car washes at gas stations, but it’s just the car wash, and there’s a whole line of them. One day, Y and I took the ole’ Prius to get a good scrubbing, and he asked me to choose which line to wait in. I chose the one I thought would move the fastest, only to discover two minutes later that the line next to us was moving much more quickly. Pointing at the faster lane, I told Y, “you should get in that line.” We had nowhere to be and nothing else to do, but I was really irritated that Y wouldn’t change lanes.
This story pretty much sums up my Type A personality. I didn’t care that we had nowhere to be; we had a task, and we should finish it as quickly and efficiently as possible.Well. Babies don’t allow you to do anything quickly and efficiently. In fact, it seems like they try their darndest to make things go as slowly and inefficiently as possible. Had I known this before having Charlie, I think I would have been very worried. As it was, I already worried about how I would have a baby and not go completely insane. What if I can’t handle how demanding she is? What if her screaming gives me a migraine? What if I feel so overwhelmed, I just want to put her in the closet? For crying out loud, the dog’s neediness annoyed me, and I knew she was nothing compared to a baby (although seriously, she is the neediest dog I’ve ever met).
I was really, really surprised by myself. When Charlie cries, instead of thinking, “OMG this baby is crying AGAIN,” I think, “this poor kid. She is really upset and has no way to help herself.” I think it’s my compassion for her that has actually made me into - gasp - a patient person. Yes, seriously. I am starting to consider myself a patient person. I’m not nearly as annoyed by the little things as I used to be - baby related or not. And I find myself thinking, "man, why is everyone in such a hurry?" I can’t rush Charlie through a feeding, and I shouldn’t be rushing myself through my life.
I've become more relaxed about...well, everything.
I used to do thirty things at once. I never watched TV without the laptop in one hand and the iPhone in the other. I never just drew - I had Hulu on in the background, or I was talking to a long-distance friend.
But having a baby makes you attend to one thing, most of the time. There's no time for any of the other crap, and you have no choice but it let it go -- because you only have this one responsibility. There's no worrying about getting everything on the to do list done, because you knew that was impossible when you woke up. It's an exercise in letting go. And it's awesome. I'm enjoying my life more.
So tell me, people - am I the only one who really didn't expect this? I hadn't really anticipated that having a child would change me for the better...I actually hadn't considered that aspect of it at all! Mamas and mamas-to-be -- have you thought about this? How has having a baby changed you - besides, of course, talking about poop all the time?