Written by Jess Raubenheimer-Free
I read an article a few years ago about priorities. A quote from that article stood out to me:
Saying, "I don't have time for this," just means you don't consider that goal a priority.
At the time, I took it really personally. I was offended by that. I had a LOT of priorities, and damn it I worked hard and there WASN'T enough time. At the time, I was able to prioritise a lot more things though.
When I got pregnant I was going to the gym five times a week, and I LOVED it. I loved the feeling of exhaustion in my muscles after a good weights session, or the burn in my legs when I ran on the treadmill. I'd prioritise myself every day to make sure I got that exercise in.
I went to the gym once while I was pregnant. The whole time I was there, I was paranoid that I was going to do something to harm my baby. I knew that given my fitness levels, that was extremely unlikely. But this baby was so longed for, I just couldn't bring myself to apply myself.
And so my priorities shifted for the first time.
After having my baby, I didn't think too much about priorities during the newborn haze. I just did what I needed to do to get through those early weeks. I went back to work when she was 3 months old, and that's when the daily prioritisation began.
Now, I prioritise stuff for a living. I'm a product owner, and I have to be ruthless and say no a lot. So you'd think I'd be pretty good at this by now.
But I'm not. I get frustrated every day that I have to de-prioritise things. Things like exercise, or projects I want to get done (this website being one of them). Some evenings I just want to sit and scroll through Instagram or watch something on Netflix. But then that damn quote floats into my head again, and I start feeling guilty for all the things I didn't prioritise today.
I sit and think about what I could be doing in that moment, instead of watching another episode of Ozark. I could be in the spare room doing a workout, or some yoga. I could be reading a book. I could be writing a blog (hey, tonight I am!).
I wake up early in the mornings so that I can sneak in a shower before my daughter wakes up for the day. Anything to get the "me" stuff out of the way before it starts to encroach on my time with her. Our mornings are special - it's just the two of us, and we have some of the best cuddles and playtime before I start work for the day.
But there's only so much time in a day. And most days, I have to prioritise. So most days I'll end up feeling frustrated by the evening, but not regretful. Because I've prioritised my baby during the day. I've prioritised spending time with her whenever I can. I've prioritised working to bring home a good salary so she can live the life I want her to live. I've prioritised washing her nappies, keeping our house clean and safe.
I've de-prioritised myself, my hobbies, my exercise. And that's really hard. I'm learning that it's okay to feel frustrated, and wish there were more hours in the day. It's painful to feel like you come last, like you're not a priority.
I don't know what the answer is. Like many aspects of motherhood, this is a journey. I'm sure I'll find a balance some day, but for now, I'd love to know if I'm alone in this. Any other mamas feeling the same?