Inside the working gears of my mind, there is a place that crafts together to-do lists miles long.
Goals, chores, grocery lists....all carefully comprised and organized. These parts of me thrive off of knowing I have achieved something I set out to do. And with every one thing that I cross off my list, there is a sense of accomplishment that washes over me.
My mother did, and still does the same thing. Every week she makes her cleaning lists, her lunches and dinners for the week. Vacations were always started with her long, and perfectly contrived list of items we needed. Whoever was left home was left with an equally impressive list of things to be taken care of around the house, down to what times the animals ate, and how much.
I need this game, and I play it every day.
Sometimes it feels like chains, bound tight around my throat. Only releasing if I feel that I have accomplished enough. And when I don't, and things are left undone, they weigh on my chest and closing breaths until I can hardly stand it.
Elodie is 3 weeks old. And in those 3 weeks I have only taken 2 naps. Both involuntary, and a product of falling asleep in the middle of what I was doing. Elodie is 3 weeks old, and I still struggle to let go of these stupid lists to just hold her for half of my day. In three weeks I have gotten a lot of things done. Laundry is done every day, the house is vacuumed and trash is taken out. And at the end of the night I miss her. I want to scoop her up and feel her skin on me, her tiny rising chest and sweet smell surrounding me.
In the same dark holes of my mind where I make my lists and hold my disappointments in myself, there is a place that reasons and argues over spoiling her with all of the love and time I have to give. In these places I realize how critical I can be of myself. All this doubt and fear and worry pools and collects until it forms a hot coal of failure. Failure in knowing that no matter how hard I try to do this all right and perfect, things will always go wrong. No doubt because I have turned to my methods of analyzing everything to death - instead of just doing what feels right.
Elodie is 3 weeks old. Each day she teaches me something about myself, a voice louder than one I have heard before. Her voice drowns the disappointment, it drowns the lists, and it drowns my doubt in myself. A tiny voice, sometimes it comes out only in a drawn-out, breathy, "haaaaa" that trails into a sweet yawn that melts my heart into an open sea.
I have 3 more weeks home with her. These will be the only first weeks. Ones that I will remember in 30 years, when she is having babies of her own. Ones that I will cry and wish to have back, when I am drowning in my to-do lists, chains bound tight around my neck.
If nothing changes, we will always stay the same. And sometimes that is the worst thing we can do for ourselves.
Today, and tomorrow, and for the rest of my time as Elodie's Mother, a to-do list will never be more important than when she just needs me to lay with her, naked, warm, and vulnerable. I will learn to let go of my lists, and throw them to the bottom of a hole marked "To-Don't."