The sun hasn’t yet risen and we’re awake – my son and I. We’ve been awake for a couple of hours already. I think to myself, “Is my pre-toddler aspiring to be a future farmer?” As he energetically plays with toys, cute babble narrating his adventures, I feel like I’m in another world. I groggily try to piece together the day ahead – all the “to-dos” and “should-have-dones” and it all seems like a big flurry of the word, “do.” I already feel like the day is insurmountable. And the sun hasn’t yet risen.
After going on autopilot like this for one too many mornings, the awareness that maybe I’m missing something starts to creep in. So one morning, I ignore my mental hamster wheel and get on the floor to play with my son. It’s refreshing (so is the caffeine!). When we finish playing, I notice that the day ahead seems clearer. The to-dos still sit on their list, but their voice isn’t as demanding. I feel like I’m starting the day from a place of rest, ushered in by play and joy.
Then it dawns on me, “I’m not going to survive this parenting gig if I don’t embrace a relationship mentality.” Even though I love relationships and can talk up a storm to a perfect stranger, there’s something about relationship in the context of motherhood that I struggle with. I think I’d be preaching to the choir if I said that motherhood is messy, and a to-do list has a certain, shiny appeal in the midst of the mess. I’m a person who will create a list simply for the sake of crossing items off, one-by-one. Although the tasks are important, I start to realize they aren’t the point. And they certainly aren’t a good measuring stick of my worth as a mom or person.
As I approach the end of my first year as a mama, I’m realizing that embracing a relationship mentality over a task mentality is important to sustainability and actually enjoying this journey. Sometimes, the keys that unlock a new perspective are hidden in the daily common, if only we’ll be open to them.
Elevating relationship over task is often counter to the cultural messages we receive on a daily basis. In light of this, I’m pondering what it looks like to embrace a relationship mentality versus a task mentality when I approach parenthood – things like:
Making space for relationship. I think this is more about allowing room amidst the busy “stuff” of daily life – a stolen tickle attack, a few moments to read the same book again, time spent pointing out the flowers and trees in the park. It’s too easy to rush past these seemingly small moments with my child.
Paying attention to my relationship with myself. When I get my worth as a person from what I accomplish in a day, it will be hard to prioritize relationship. I have to pay attention to my relationship with myself — is it utilitarian?
Letting the task flow from relationship. There’s no doubt about it – the tasks still need to get done, but am I checking them off the list to impress somebody else (even myself), or am I completing that task from a place of love? The learning curve seems never-ending in this area, but it’s worth it.
Though my son is still on “farmer” time, and I love my caffeine (and to-do list) a little too much, I’m embracing the perspective that the early mornings are another chance to get to know this little person I created. A chance to let the to-do list get a little jump-start through play. But don’t get me wrong, I thank God for the mornings when it’s my husband’s turn to get up early.