Practical thoughts

I often wish I could outsource all the mundane tasks and decisions of daily living. I wish I could have someone tell me exactly what to wear, what to eat, what to feed my daughter, what items need to be restocked in my diaper bag, when to do laundry… I hate even talking about these mundane things because they are not worth talking about.

But this is what my life as a SAHM consists of. At any single moment during the day, these are the thoughts going through my mind: Should AJ wear long sleeves or short sleeves today? How long has it been since she pooped, and how should I time her meals and snacks so she won’t poop during a nap and wake up prematurely? How much sodium is in these crackers, and what should I give her for her next snack in order to not exceed 400 mg of sodium per day? Did I remember to give her vitamins yesterday? Will we be out of the house when she needs to nurse? Does my outfit allow discreet public breastfeeding, or do I need to change my shirt?

It’s not the tasks themselves that bother me so much as the mental energy that must be devoted to thinking about them. I don’t mind the doing—the feeding, diaper changing, cleaning up—nearly as much as the thinking. When practical thoughts fill my brain, they take up all its space and energy and crowd out the thoughts that really matter to me.

An INTP is defined not by what she does, but by what she thinks. What really feeds my soul is thinking about ideas that have no practical value. Philosophy, science, art, and the even more abstract offspring of these subjects that have no names. When I think about only the practical, my soul shrivels and feels dead.

I envy my husband, who spends his day thinking about complex engineering problems. I envy anyone who gets to spend time thinking abstract thoughts that have no direct application in their daily life. Even if I weren’t a SAHM, I would still have to think about these things. I would still have to plan AJ’s meals and snacks, schedule her naps, plan her outfits according to her activities, prepare spare clothes and diapers, coordinate grocery shopping and laundry schedules. (My husband travels out of town for work every week, so he’s not able to help with the everyday thinking.)

The necessity of practical thoughts has been amplified recently as we just moved to a new house. The process of packing, moving, unpacking, toddler-proofing the house, dealing with appliances that don’t work, and trying to stay one step ahead of an active toddler the entire time has totally swamped my brain. I haven’t thought about anything un-practical in many weeks. I think I’ve forgotten how to think. I don’t know where to start.

9 thoughts on “Practical thoughts

  1. What really feeds my soul is thinking about ideas that have no practical value. Philosophy, science, art, and the even more abstract offspring of these subjects that have no names. When I think about only the practical, my soul shrivels and feels dead.

    Complete agreement there.

  2. That’s horrifying.
    Moreso, because I understand exactly what you’re saying.
    Having dealt with exactly this sense of cerebral atrophy, I’ve found that psilocibin helps reset my brain when it has been worn down in such a way. You can almost feel the dendrites reaching, synapses springing back to life. If you don’t know what i mean, check out erowid.
    Anyway, i don’t know your thoughts on that sort of thing, but there’s quite a body of academic research suggesting its medicinal psychoactive uses. So maybe that’s a consideration, whenever nursing is at an end and you’ve acquires a day free of responsibility and obligations. After almost a year of mind-numbingly stupid double shifts and energy-depleting social barrage, it really helped me organize my brain and feel . Then again, schedule c drugs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea – lol.

  3. Oh I want meet you and rack your brain. I too am an INTP mom and I get it! Finally, someone who comprehends my mind. I was lost and feeling so confused listening to a conversation of moms talking about googling the latest innovative cleaning schedule and exchanging organization tips. Help me, I thought. Literallly, I felt as if I was drowning as I listened to them and I feel like this often around these moms. I get up @ 3:30 am many mornings just to have my quiet solitude. I must have and I need my time alone with my thoughts before the kids wake up. My husband has realized how much I need quiet time away and respects that, he knows I can turn into a depressed introverted ball of unhappiness if I dont get it. My husbands family are all extremely extroverted and so controling it is extremely stifling being around them at family gatherings. I also, parent my children in a way that I feel is best for them promoting independence and creative and critical thinking. That includes taking things apart, learning how to responsibly use knifes and cooking at young ages.

    1. I know exactly what you mean. I take my daughter to a lot of playdates and while she’s having fun, I’m sitting there bored out of my mind listening to the other moms talk about all the craft projects they want to do from Pinterest.
      I’m also a free-range parent (though I hate labels like that) and let my daughter explore more and get into more trouble than most parents would allow. That’s probably partly out of laziness, but I also just think that’s the best way to learn.

  4. I strongly identify without even being a mom yet. I feel that way just being a wife out of college with a desk job. (Programing to be fair, the silver lining.) I’ve been thinking a lot about the loss of identity being wrought over my life by wretched routines. One of the things I’m enjoying about your blog is feeling pre-emptive in preparing myself for some of this. I have the luxury of being married to an ISFJ who would be a great SAHD, so one of our life decisions will be whether I can relinquish my biological/societal programming for my mental stability.

    1. You know, during my pregnancy and when my daughter was a newborn, I went through a phase where I totally didn’t care about anything else besides mothering. Those hormones were very, very powerful. Now I feel totally differently, and I really lament the loss of my career. You’re very lucky to have a husband who’s amenable to being a SAHD.

  5. Well, if this isn’t me in school…I’ve solved that problem, because I’m officially a school dropout. But there are more problems now instead…

    I agree with charity though. I usually get up around 3.30am to 4.30am just for 1 or 2 hours of solitude. I can’t right now as I’m on meds and my phone (alarm) is not working.

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