My husband makes fun of me, because my catch phrase is: I have so much to do today. I don’t even think before I say it; the words pop out while I am mentally listing a to-do list that includes all the should-do’s, must-do’s, wish-i’d-do’s and want-to-do’s. It’s a long list, and most days I don’t even touch on a fraction of the items. And while it drives my husband crazy (he’s more of a “procrastinate until it’s due, and only do it then if it’s unavoidable” type), I am mostly content with this type of existence. I love completing things, so checking items off an endless list means that the projects get completed, and I have the satisfaction of never having to do that particular thing again (this is why I hate things like dishes and laundry–they are never done for good). I have a feeling of purpose guiding my day, and I only have to look to my list to have a sense of what I should be doing next. This also gives me a way to gauge how productive my day was: how much did I accomplish?
But the thing is, most days, unless I have an avalanche of work, I don’t really get to much of the things on the list. In fact, I often abandon the list in favor of novels or Netflix or something shiny. I think that these things keep me sane. But what if I could actually check off all of the things on the list–what if I were a super-productive power woman who didn’t need time to recharge? Would I be a better person, or would I just be a more stressed out person?
I don’t have answers to these questions. But I know that if I ever have kids, then these questions of how much can one woman do in a single day will become more important. Urgent. Even looking at grad school and a potential hour-and-a-half commute each way makes me wonder how many stores of reserves I have stored. I tend to depend on lots of time to recharge, especially if it was a stressful day or involved a lot of conversations with people I’m not comfortable approaching. Those things wear me out. My mother could never understand why I didn’t want to go to the football games and basketball games in high school. Between my lack of interest in sports and discomfort in large crowds, those two events were nightmares for a happily-introverted kid with an interest in art. It’s funny, I still don’t think my mother really understands my personality, or how different it is from hers. I recharge by curling up with a good book. But when my husband and I have kids, will I have to give up that recharging time in exchange for homework time? Will I still be able to read, to write, to think? I’m sure the people who are parents out there are rolling their eyes and laughing at the silly young girl who thinks she’ll have any time after children.
I wish there were more resources out there to help couples figure out if they’re ready for kids, and what to expect when they finally arrive. I know that I’ll be the kind of mom who wants to drop everything to focus on the family, but how do I do that and still juggle a career and outside interests? How do the moms I see running families and boardrooms manage to do both and still walk out the door looking presentable? How do I know when I’m ready? How do I do it all?