Before having my son, my memory was impeccable. I don’t just mean that I was good with birthdays or important dates, but I could remember what I was wearing and who I was with on a given day three years prior. My friends mocked my creepy ability to recall minute details, but I was proud. “We were last at this restaurant in December of 2010. I know this because I was wearing the coat I had just gotten for Christmas, and we came here to catch up on everything that had happened prior to the holidays.” My brain felt like an organized folder, with memories neatly tucked away and cataloged in such a way that I could recall almost anything.
Cut to the present day, now that I have a 17-month-old in the next room. The image of the inside of my brain that immediately comes to mind is that of a foggy morning, where you can perhaps make out the shapes of people or cars passing by and then you smack into a pole that you didn’t see as you walked down the street.
I am consistently amazed at how motherhood has changed me. It is an all-encompassing, life-altering, body and mind upheaval. I feel different at a cellular level. Of course this is nothing new. Parents talk about the insanity that is raising kids all the time. But when it happens to you, it can be unsettling. My poor brain didn’t escape the explosion that is motherhood. I make plans to do something, and a mere moment later it is as if I hadn’t had the thought or intention at all. Poof. It disappears into thin air. “I’m going to call Mary,” I say to myself. Then the baby says he wants milk, and off I go to the fridge. The call to Mary happens maybe days later when I realize I had forgotten to do it.
Sadly, bigger and more important plans also vanish from my mind just as easily. Before I know it, weeks and months have passed and all I have to show for them are some dark circles under my eyes and a child who is (thankfully) healthy and clean(ish). So much for lofty plans.
It occurred to me recently how important it is, now more so than ever, to write down my goals. Here and there I had always jotted things down that I wanted to do in life, but I was never one to adhere to quarterly or even yearly goals. I didn’t even like the idea of a New Year’s resolution. Now that time is seemingly flying by and I’m attempting to cling to it by the tips of my un-manicured nails, I know that if I am going to accomplish anything (or remember to accomplish anything), I am going to have to formally and deliberately set goals for our family and myself.
I sometimes think that I am just being hard on myself. “You have a little kid,” I say. “You are wrangling a tiny human, teaching him to eat and speak and manage his tantrums. You wrestle him into clothes and kiss his boo-boos and hold him close when he’s scared. That’s a lot.” And this is all true. I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.
But by holding myself accountable with my “macro to-do lists,” by the time my son is starting kindergarten or middle school or high school I will have attended to my own dreams and pursuits as well. Being his mom is my new job — one that I embrace wholeheartedly, but I don’t want to abandon the person I was or intended to be beyond “mommy.”
So from now on, when I have time to myself, I will address my goals, one by one. And as I look back on my life I will know that I not only took care of my family, but of myself as well.