I'm just going to put it out there. I'm a closet-math nerd. I thought I hated the subject in middle school. I rolled my eyes at the teacher and I wore out the eraser on my number two pencil pretty regularly. But then I got it. I am a problem solver. I like answers. And spreadsheets. And I actually really like number two pencils with fresh erasers. I am a math nerd.
Our lives are full of problems that need solving, and circumstances that demand answers. Friends, have I got a doozy for you.
The math problem for today is this: You have 24 hours in the day. You have one toddler, one husband, one house, one dog, two sets of in-laws, one set of parents, a daycare schedule to figure out and a whole lot of random things will pop up that need your attention. You must work your full time job, ensure everyone in the house gets a decent meal for dinner, plan the details of the next day, find some time to unwind, connect with a friend or two, and visit dreamland for a solid amount of time. Is this probable?
The answer is yes. But wait, there's something that needs a little more definition.
You have a toddler. So that one hour of grocery shopping becomes two. That thirty minutes of getting ready in the morning becomes sixty. The quick trip to the coffee shop requires double the time because you have to pack up half of your house just to get out of the house, along with a kiddo who doesn't want to leave. (If you didn't leave, she'd spend the next ten minutes banging on the front door trying to leave, or maybe that's just me). Your full 24 hour day doubles with need and you get zero extra hours in the day. What do you do?
You subtract. You subtract the time with your husband, you remove your unwinding time altogether, you opt for sweatpants and wine instead of happy hour with your friends, and your full time in dreamland becomes negotiable depending on what the day decided to dump on you. That's the Mathematics of Motherhood.
My 24 hours looked different when I was just me, before I was a person someone called mom. Those hours included an ample amount of sleep, gym classes, happy hours, date nights, late days at the office, early morning yoga classes, long vacations, quick getaways and spontaneous romantic times with the hubs. Yup, times have changed. I was spoiled, but I'd argue that I'm a different kind of spoiled now.
Our weekend trips aren't quick getaways. We don't just throw a bag in the car and drive. We don't lazily go for brunch and spend afternoons reading. (Let's be honest, we didn't do that anyway). But instead, a weekend trip includes planning. Hours and hours and days and days of planning. Before we leave, we grocery shop for snacks and meals because our toddler doesn't do so well lazily brunching. We pack a bag for ourselves, a bag for the kid, a bag of activities and supplies and a bag of diapers. We pack and over pack because that one thing we desperately need in the middle of the night can't be something we forgot. We cannot be spontaneous anymore. That is not part of our equation. Spontaneity is not part of the Mathematics of Motherhood.
We have spent some time down the road of weekend trips with the toddler, and I have three important things for you to remember in this season of life.
1. It's just a season. There will come a day where we are saddened by the scarce amount of planning, the lightweight reality of our bags, the empty sounds in the air. This time is just a season, and we need to love the heck out of it and take albums full of mental pictures of the sweet, the hard, the good, the bad and the beautiful. We are doing it all, and with only 24 hours in the day.
2. Slow down. This is important for me. Let us not rush our kids to be faster, to move more quickly, to keep up with us. Let's walk at their pace. Let's learn alongside them and appreciate right next to them. Let's be children in our hearts forever.
3. Plan. A lot. Because taking care of details for a weekend outing on a Wednesday afternoon will make you feel better about leaving for a weekend outing. And with each set of plans, things will go wrong, and that's when we learn and get better. It's in the hard times that we get stronger, smarter, and it's when we step outside of our comfort zone that we can grow. So plan. A lot. But be flexible and find the lessons when things go wrong.
There's no easy answers. I write a lot about how motherhood changes our identity, and challenges us to remember our past-selves. But with how much we might miss our abilities to do absolutely everything in a packed 24 hours, we are lucky. We are lucky. And our kids, husbands, families, jobs, homes, pets and all - they are lucky too.
What does your 24 hours look like? What do you subtract to make it all work?