Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Things My Triplets Taught Me: Do It Now
I have always been something of a procrastinator. I didn't usually leave things until the VERY last minute, but the last few days or hours, sure. Deadline pressure motivated me all through high school.
Then I went off to college where I studied journalism, and my education only reinforced and rewarded my procrastinating nature. Our professors were determined to see that we could meet deadlines and turn out quality work in a short time frame. Doing things at the last minute became a highly-coveted job skill, not a bad habit. Of course, I didn't have to apply that principle to say, the 20-page history paper I had due, but I did, and it mostly worked for me.
Everything from then on followed that same pattern. My master's degree assignments were all due the week they were made, my career was built on being able to churn out work that the boss asked for today, but needed yesterday, and juggling motherhood and an outside job only honed my last-minute skills.
Then I became a mother of triplets. And I quickly learned that I couldn't do things later, because there was never a later. Later I needed to do 47 other things. Every need was an immediate need, especially in the beginning. There was a lot of deadine pressure, but no wiggle room for procrastinating.
There was no "later" when it came to changing crib sheets that were wet. If it didn't get done immediately I'd find myself ready to put babies back to bed and have no clean sheets. "Later" I'd need clean bottles or pump equipment, and someone would have to wait and cry while I did what I should have done earlier. Showering "later" turned out to sometimes mean two or three days later. (Frankly, I was mostly so tired I didn't care anyway.) I learned to put laundry in the washer after the 6:30 a.m. feeding ever morning so we'd have enough burp rags and blankets for the day. By the time I got another chance I'd have another load or two piled up.
Jeff joined in, too. He unloaded the dishwasher and made up a days' worth of bottles every night before bed. And when he came home he would make more bottles and restock diapers and wipes and sleepers to make sure we had everything ready for the night shift.
Now that the boys sleep at night and nap well, I have a little more energy and some dedicated chore time, so I don't have to do everything immediately anymore. Sometimes I hold off until nap time when I can be more efficient, and when there aren't fun little boys around to play with! And sometimes, in the name of efficiency mind you, I have been known to just kick the morning's Cheerios under the highchairs to sweep up after lunch. But for the most part, the boys trained me well, and I still find myself cleaning up trays and highchairs as soon as meals are finished and putting my laundry in about the same time daily.
As it turned out, that skill of meeting deadlines came in pretty handy when my trio arrived. And while I no longer had the option to procrastinate, I certainly became world-class at getting everything done just in the nick of time.
I'll try to keep that in mind when my kids start driving me crazy by procrastinating. I can already hear myself saying, "This wouldn't have happened if you hadn't waited until the very last minute."
Hypocrite, thy name is Mom.
© Trippin' Mama 2010