Lately I feel like I’ve been getting hit with a lot of requirements and tasks that I should be doing “every day”. Being pregnant, there are a whole slew of things that I’m supposed to do: eat healthy foods, take vitamin supplements, watch my protein intake, get plenty of sleep, do prenatal exercises. I’m supposed to do daily “kick counts” to keep track of the baby’s activity level at different times of day, so I’ll know if suddenly he or she is less active, since that could be a bad sign. And now that I’m farther along, I have a host of tasks I’m supposed to accomplish every day for my childbirth class, like listening to my joyful pregnancy affirmations CD and practicing my hypnosis techniques. And all the pregnancy daily tasks are in addition to the things I do regularly and have a passionate interest in. I want to practice my yoga and my meditation every day, write in this blog, keep up with reading to improve myself as a yogini and as a teacher. And then there’s my writing – I should certainly be doing that every day, especially if I don’t want to lose track of myself as a writer in all this motherhood stuff. I need to be reading poetry, writing new poems, revising my poems. I need to go to work every weekday, too, commuting there on the train and then completing all the variety of tasks that make up the job for which they pay me. And all of that is in addition to the regular tasks of daily life, like fixing breakfast, washing dishes, doing laundry, and keeping the house tidy. My husband was just away traveling for a full week, and all of those duties somehow took up most of my time when I had to do them alone. And that’s just the daily stuff. I also need to make progress on long-term projects like preparing the baby’s room, keeping up with friends and family, someday putting together our honeymoon album, sending my writing out to journals, trying to build my portfolio as a freelance writer and sending out book review and article queries to magazines, then writing the book reviews and articles. And I have to be doing all of these things, every day, while I am more consistently tired than I’ve ever been in my life, while I am metaphorically carrying around two bags of groceries at all times, while I am moving much slower than I’m used to doing.
The only thing I don’t have to do every single day is shampoo my hair, because with the preggo hormones, my hair has become thick and shiny and lustrous and for the first time since I was a kid I can go a good three days without washing it and it still looks great. And I feel so overloaded with everything else that not needing to wash and dry my hair every morning has been a gigantic relief. Two weeks ago I told F that I wanted to take a bath that night, but then said it seemed like too much work. He asked, like what, and I said, you know, like filling the tub and stuff. He looked at me like I was insane; he’d thought I was going to say something about cleaning the tub first (as it needed to be cleaned, which I’d forgotten about, and which made the prospect of my pleasant bath even more intimidating). But that’s how tired I was.
The result, of course, has been that I just ain’t getting shit done. Most days, in addition to routine life maintenance, commuting, and work, I can manage to do one extra thing. Sometimes it is a yoga thing, like teaching on Tuesday nights. Sometimes it’s a writing thing – I have a packet of poems I’ve been carrying with me on the train and I’ve been working on them slowly. Sometimes it’s cooking a fancier-than-usual meal, or paying bills, or clearing a box of crap out of the room we eventually want to put a baby in. Occasionally it’s taking a nap, but not nearly as often as my body would like. Sometimes I can do two things at once, like reading or working on poems while I’m on the train, or listening to my childbirth hypnosis stuff while I’m sleeping (which they swear works anyway). But I just can’t seem to manage doing more than the one extra thing, at least not on a week night.
My usual instinct is to get upset with myself for failing as a wife or mother or friend or independent woman. But that’s not going to do anyone one iota of good. I’m trying to practice ahimsa and satya, my two favorite yamas. Satya: The truth is that I am slow and tired and heavy, and there are many things on my plate. The truth is that I can only do what I can do. Ahimsa: There’s no use beating myself up about the things I can’t manage to do. Instead of getting upset and angry, it will be far more beneficial to me to practice kindness and love and give that to myself instead. If I’m supposed to be eating healthy foods so the baby gets good nutrition, it’s got to be at least as important to feed myself healthy emotions so the baby gets a good daily dosage of love instead of sadness.
Here are the things that I commit to doing every day:
I brush my teeth.
I tell my husband I love him.
I tell the contents of my uterus that I love him or her.
I do the best I can with everything else.
And that bath two weeks ago? I cleaned the tub, I filled up the tub, and I took the bath anyway. With bubbles, and chocolate truffles. It was lovely.