I fear routine. I pride myself in being a spontaneous woman, willing to take on a new adventure at any time and make last-minute changes on a whim. Never have I been the one to keep a daily planner or even keep up the calendar on my computer. I don’t do schedules.
Then along came my daughter, Anastasia, who is 8 months old. For those of you with children, you know they thrive on a schedule; they flourish with stability and consistency. Since words like these are my antitheses, the learning curve here proved slightly painful.
Through a long experiment of trial and error, I reluctantly noticed that if Anastasia goes to bed before 10 p.m., she sleeps better all night. I also noticed that if she’s fed baby food at the same time every day, three times a day, she’s altogether happier. Frustrated that I was being forced to schedule time to be a good mom, I was slow to catch on to the importance of this routine.
Well, she taught me a lesson, as children often do. One dazed trip to the nursery at 3 a.m. after a late-night bedtime made me realize that I was holding onto a small piece of my youth that no longer mattered.
Those of us who are prior-service families, or those families who are currently serving, know that no plans are concrete. We’ve grown accustomed to plans changing at the drop of a hat, so much so that some of us (namely me) find the concept of a concrete schedule intimidating.
I still don’t know why I fought it so long. When I’m consistent in my parenting and put my daughter’s schedule before my own, she’s consistently a happy baby. When I let my spontaneous roots keep me from putting her first, my baby is too grumpy to allow us to do anything fun or spontaneous anyway.
Slowly, she’s turning me into a person who is just a little more consistent and a little less self-centered. Like it or not, my life now revolves around her schedule, and even though my day may not be planned out on my calendar, she lets me know what’s next on the agenda — my little personal assistant.