Moms, Pack Your Bucket List Along With The Kitchen Sink!

By: Abby Plambeck

We love our daycare. It has a fantastic preschool program for our Big Sister, a stimulating and cozy daycare for Mr. and Miss Twin, and, best of all, the kids can all go at the same time. That said, I cried the first time I left them there. It was only 3 hours each week, but the Mom Guilt over leaving my babies shredded my heart. The second week was easier, and by the third week, my tires squealed and left treadmarks when I drove away. I figured out pretty quickly that those 3 hours restored my sanity and made me a much better mom!

We’ve gradually added hours in the 2 years since then and just graduated to 3 mornings each week. Big Sister is now in 4K and the twins are in the same toddler room where Big Sister started. I longed for this milestone during this past summer, in between breaking up fights and taking away toys and issuing timeouts. Three whole mornings! I could write. And do errands. And catch up with friends. And rejoin the adult world after a 2-year absence! It sounded like paradise.

Then, something surprising happened. I arrived home alone to a house that was too quiet. All the things that irritate me when the kids are there become endearing when they’re not. The toothpaste trail in the sink. The splotches of spilled milk on the couch. The cupboard doors left standing open. The toilet paper unrolled and strewn across the bathroom floor. The strangest thing is that I can clean it all up at my leisure. There isn’t anyone yelling, “Mom!” or fighting or making more messes. No one needs me.

After two and a half years of insane chaos, self-denial, and multitasking, I’m a little uncomfortable when no one needs me. We went from one easy toddler to three children under the age of 3 in one day, and I’ve been trying to catch up ever since. There’s a strange benefit to limited time and energy for myself:  Most of my insecurities disappear. When my kids are with me, I’m not afraid to speak up in public, I’m more assertive in asking for what we need, and I feel  more comfortable in my own skin.

There’s also a confusing side effect when my kids aren’t with me. Those old insecurities pop right up! The truth is that no matter how much we live for and give to our children, eventually we’re going to be left with ourselves again.  We were complete people before we had children, but it’s too easy to give up those other parts of our personalities, and if they aren’t recaptured from time to time, we lose them. It could be a career or hobbies or future goals or the relationship with a significant other. As I discovered that third week of leaving my kids at daycare, time away and reconnecting with our non-parent selves makes us better parents and teaches our kids how to parent our future grandchildren.

I often meet other moms who have postponed their dreams for so long that they’ve given up on them. Let’s reclaim them here! Post a comment about one of your passions, goals, or dreams that you’d like to pursue when your kids are more independent. I’ll start: My bucket list (things I want to do before I kick the bucket) includes: Writing a Great American Novel, learning how to fence, taking guitar lessons, and living in a Tudor-style house in England. Now, it’s your turn!

I’m also learning that as much as I miss my kids when they’re gone, exactly 5 minutes after they return home, I’m deeply entrenched in chaos, riots, and cries for “Mom!” again. When three people need me at the same time (and often the dog too), the grass on the lonely side of the fence looks a little greener!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jasmeet sidhu
    Sep 15, 2011 @ 22:21:45

    Oh Abby you just touched a long lost string of my own “bucket list”.
    Long before Simmi was born, or my residency began, or before I started going to shopping malls to look for last minute B’day gifts for my daughters friends in place of looking for the right shoes for my next night out……There was a bucket list. A list that I had long forgotten and probably need to remember more so now than ever before to keep my sanity in times of long calls, seemingly unrelenting laundry hours to take the stains of turmeric from my daughters crisp white summer dresses( I don’t know why I still keep buying whites for her),long hours of grocery shopping( visits of course have to be very meticulously distributed between American and Indian list of shopping / and not to forget adult and kid’s list).
    Yes, I had a list – going back-packing to Europe, wine tasting bike tours, long strolls during siesta hours, Just sitting out in coffee bars reading a Ken follett novel ( I don’t even remember when I actually last read a book just for fun). Painting Horses, which probably used to be the most calming hobby I had growing up, very easily forgotten and replaced by hours of crayon art to tell stories to my daughter on paper( she loves it!!!). Attending a cuisine art school to learn maybe a little more about cooking than how to keep the pasta Al-dente. There’s a lot more in the bucket list. A lot.
    I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to fill up my bucket list, But It would be worthwhile to be able to just remember the list and one day may be when Simmi is old enough and hopefully me not too old, I can take her on my bucket list adventure, There will be nothing more fulfilling than to fill up my bucket list with her by my side and help her fulfill her own.


    • abbyplambeck
      Sep 16, 2011 @ 20:00:52

      Jas, thank you for sharing! I think that everything has its season, and perhaps these years are laying the foundation for a future when you have the time and energy to start emptying your bucket. And HOW wonderful to share it with Simmi! It’s hard to not get discouraged while slogging through the day-to-day now, but yes, keep peeking into your bucket to remember what’s there!


  2. Margo Dill
    Sep 16, 2011 @ 18:48:01

    YAY! For posting twice this week. I enjoy your writing and realize through it that the feelings I feel on a daily basis taking care of my daughter ARE NORMAL. I am not alone in this strange mommy world. 🙂 Love your blog!


    • abbyplambeck
      Sep 16, 2011 @ 19:55:35

      Thanks, Margo! That’s exactly what I’m trying to achieve. 🙂 It helps SO much to know that others are experiencing and feeling the same things, and that parenthood isn’t so black and white, but a variety of shades, sometimes all within the same minute!


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