My enneagram type is three, the achiever. Hands down, the description is who I’ve claimed to be my whole life: “The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptable, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious”.
I excelled in every setting, and constantly had the mindset of “if you want it done, just do it”. I told my [now] husband we could marry when I was done with my undergraduate studies, and while living in separate states & planning a wedding, proceeded to simultaneously achieve two bachelor’s degrees and become the youngest graduate in the history of the university.
This was productivity: dream hard, work harder.
I watched friends have babies all around, often at the “cost” of their college experience, career advancement, or lifelong dreams. My “congratulations” became a two-edged sword, sharp and venomous with both envy of their position, and a reckless determination to see the letters after my name before expanding our family.
But slowly, that changed. And it was one of my first indicators that I was ready for the next step; motherhood became a priority, not an accomplishment.
These days, with a spirited toddler, another little girl due this summer, a full time high school teaching job… well, productivity looks a little different.
As a mom, you often feel stretched thin. My first few months were overwhelmed with the ideas of “should”: things I “should” be accomplishing, “should” do better, should, should, should.
I returned to work when my baby was five months old and it was a clear revelation for me: I am not who I was.
Motherhood has changed me; my greatest goals in the smallest form. The accolades, the degrees, the prestige all fades away. My highest calling, fit perfectly to me; her arms around my neck as a medal of my greatest accomplishments.
Productivity is now measured in quality moments while we sing in the car together, books we read, the number of times I get to say “YES”. I still strive, I still dream, but I’ve learned that freedom means more to me than achievement.
Make a plan to keep your life manageable (since the laundry never will be done anyway!), be clear with your partner on what each of you expect, and remember to still do things that are just for you.
Mama, I know you’ll get unsolicited advice. I know some of it will make you roll your eyes. But let me share some wisdom from outside of parenting. First year teachers are always exposed to one of the “greats”, and his quote meant more to me in this season than it ever did in the classroom:
I give you permission to survive.
I give you permission to fall behind on housework, to keep an extra few pounds from those nine months, to let go of dreams you never thought were up for debate. Growing in who you are means being open to change; in and of itself, compromise is only exhibited in those who understand its value.
My pre-mama self saw that change as weakness, but I know now it’s truly strength. I’ve changed my ideas of productivity from quantity to quality. And although it’s a constant work in progress, nothing reminds me better than a silly squeal of joy from my daughter.
So, as you cuddle your little one, work through challenges with your toddler, walk alongside your children, or pray guidance over your teens; know that someone’s rooting for you. For the day to day necessities around the house, for the professional and personal goals you may be revisiting, for the ability to let go of your to-do list.
Your motherhood is your productivity.
Lindsey is a Seattle-area high school English teacher, toddler tamer, wife to her high school barista, and avid project starter… Lover of Jesus, caffeine, quotes, staying home and her #tinygirlgang!