Cassidy Williams

Software Engineer in Chicago

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Turning todos into tadas

Having a baby really has changed my brain more than I ever expected it to. I related a ton to Rach Smith’s post about the inevitable mental breakdown you get in early motherhood, in that… everyone tells you how magical motherhood is, and how it’s the most important job in the world, and they all congratulate you on how exciting it is. And then, and then, and then: the baby gets here, and your life is no longer your own (at least it feels that way), and any semblance of control you thought you had over where things would go are out the window entirely.

Now, full disclosure, I’ve been diagnosed with postpartum depression, and it sucks. I love my baby and thank goodness don’t have the kind in which I want to cause harm to her or myself so far. But my word, what I would give to be able to think clearly and feel like myself again! I’ve been getting professional help and trying to read a lot about it to try and kick it out of me, with no dice yet, and have been learning the hard way that I can’t just… do that.

Motherhood and all of the related effects and tasks can’t just be checked off of a list. Processing that has been really hard for me. I like seeing solutions and tasks checked off and completed. Heck, one of my favorite projects I’ve built for myself is literally a checklist with a progress bar. I can’t just check off “parenting” and “third irrational/hormone-driven cry of the day” and be done with it. I love being able to finish something and just take it out of my brain and move on to the next, but with motherhood… it doesn’t end. Parts of it does, sure, and a lot of it changes, constantly, but… it’s forever.

This makes sense, of course. I didn’t get pregnant just to ship a baby, say “LGTM,” and then call it done. But living it out is so different than I thought it would be. Lack of sleep, postpartum, plus the ongoing physical recovery from actually giving birth just emphasizes even more how daunting it is to never, ever be “finished” with anything.

So, that being said, I’m trying to shift my mindset away from todo lists. It’s easier said than done, but I’m doing a little :%s/o/a/g in my brain when it comes to todos (which for non-vim normal humans, replaces the os with as, to turn “todos” into “tadas”). I want to focus less on “this is what I have to check off for the day” to feel like I have things managed and under control, and more on, “these are the things I did today, tada!”

There are days where I don’t have time to clean up as much, or the baby is fussy, or I only get things partially started or finished, and that only adds to my stress when think about what I didn’t “check off” for the day (heck, I planned on writing this blog post a week ago). But, if I can celebrate that I did clean a little, or that I did keep the baby alive, or that I at least thought about how I’d approach some other task… maybe I’ll get a little bit of my old happy brain back.

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