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One of my favourite events in the week these days is going to Mother’s Group. People close to me will recall how stressed out I got about whether I would actually be assigned one (M was born in November and they didn’t form new groups then til February) and also if I would fit in (I never really felt at home where I live and wasn’t sure I would meet people who would get me). As it turns out, those Child Health Nurses have some whacky superpower whereby they match people up in some way that most people cling tight to their group like it’s their oxygen machine. And as it turns out, I love my mother’s group more than I’ve loved many many things in life (not more than Tim Tams though, Tim Tams are for life). Anyway, we hang out, often for more than several hours on mummy’s group day, and laugh and debrief and all those things, and take photos of the bubs playing. Yesterday, I caught sight of myself (checking Twitter on my phone) in the background of one posted on our FB page. And … it made me sad.

I’ve signed up for the last two rounds of Michelle Bridges’ 12WBT programme to lose my “baby weight” – truthfully I lost weight during my pregnancy as I felt sick for pretty much all of the time. But that weight has not stayed off since. My plan was to – meh – it was probably to be someone else entirely in those photos for the Hugo nominees. This plan of course has not been successful and Loncon is next month.

This plan, by the way, has not been successful because it was completely unrealistic – not the programme, which is fantastic and has been really life changing for me. And not necessarily unrealistic that a new mum could follow it. Just. Not this new mum. In my feedback for the last round I did note that you know, the one mother of a newborn who manages to lose a bunch of weight whilst learning this parenting gig on the job and not sleeping is truly amazing and deserving of much kudos but for the rest of us, who basically feel like zombies dragging themselves through mudflats in a thunderstorm whilst wearing heels and having been slammed up the side of our heads, and already feel like losers and failures, don’t feel encouraged by the “I/She did it so can you too” bullshit.

You see, I’m having to admit that even Wonder Woman couldn’t juggle fighting crime, flying an invisible plane and wearing pants all at the same time.

Yes, that’s right. I’m currently exploring this question: “What is reasonable?”

SMART goals ask you to set measurable, achievable, timely goals that are *reasonable* and in my head I always think that the first three therefore imply the fourth. Yeah, no.

I feel like a total failure because I don’t feel like, don’t have time for and can’t make myself exercise. Oh yeah, and I’m still suffering from carpal tunnel from my pregnancy so some days I hurt so much that I can’t walk on my feet and hold a cup of coffee. (And when you’re the stay at home parent, noone can hear you scream from RSI from baby lifting and noone cares either).

Could I carve out time in my day, maybe when the baby is sleeping or after she goes down for the night? I’m supposed to answer yes to this – sure I can! But I’m supposed to be studying full time right now and running Twelfth Planet Press (which now is perpetually behind and slammed). I don’t really get that much time to do any work uninterrupted during the day so I work a full day from about 6/8pm (the baby currently woke up from her late afternoon nap that she never normally takes and is drinking a bottle – it’s 7.21pm) til 2.30am. Sometimes I work a bit later, sometimes I go to bed at 1/1.30am and read (reading is not always for leisure though it’s for staying in touch with the genre or reading submissions and manuscripts).

What is actually reasonable?

I’m working pretty hard to keep my business running and towards a career change so that when I come out the other side of this full time parenting gig, I’m not tossed aside for being out of date and therefore unemployable. And, you know, so that I don’t lose all that money I’ve invested into my small business because it stagnated and therefore lost its profile, interest and brand. I don’t want people to say “hey, remember that small press thirteen? ten? some number something? Whatever happened to that?” When I have “down time” I go to the toilet, get a hot cup of coffee (OMG remember those?! You’re sipping one right now, aren’t you?) and then I go and do work.

Oh and I am bone tired *all* the time. If I stand still, I can pretty much fall asleep. Any time.

So what *is* reasonable? What *can* you actually expect of yourself. Or more importantly for me, what can *I* really expect of myself? And what can I put on the to do list for later? What can I be ok with just letting be? What’s truly important?

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  • By Jo on 18 July 2014 at 9:39 am

    As everyone who knows you will no doubt tell you, you make me tired just thinking about what you do. I remember life with a new baby…sleep and time to yourself (and hot coffee) are so rare and precious. And yet you still manage to study and run a business.

    You don’t need a list of goals my girl, you need to sit down and write a list of all the things you are already achieving and give yourself a pat on the back. Then you can write down the things you think you need to achieve, sit and look at it for a minute and then cross off half of them and give yourself a break!

    End of lecture! Now please go and kiss that baby of yours because she is too cute for words and I’m so disappointed that I won’t be getting to meet her in Canberra.

  • By Alisa on 19 July 2014 at 11:29 pm

    Aww thank you. Baby kissed and perhaps she will meet you at the next con.

  • By Nicky on 20 July 2014 at 9:12 am

    Your reasonable question is the proverbial how long is a piece of string. Only you will find the answer to that and it’s *insert strong language* hard to not compare and look at what others are doing/have done. The other hard thing (speaking as a mum of a nearly 20 year old) is the sands constantly shift. They are rarely still – especially in the before school years, and imho even more so in the newborn to toddler years.

    I think be kind to yourself and take tiny (or baby, sorry) steps for each area you are juggling as you can within your boundaries (we women have boundary issues I know lol).

    One of my favourite things I remember re the superwoman/woman have it all – is the description they don’t have it all at the same time.

    Also, your desire for a hot drink – understand totally :-)

  • By AlisaK on 20 July 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Really important to hold on to the “you can have it all but not at once”, though hard to also know that men can have it all at once cause they mostly don’t do all the ball juggling. Ah well. I wouldn’t give her back so onwards!

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