In the back of my mind I always acknowledged that becoming parent would change my life forever. Realizing that parenthood does come with certain limitations, at least for a while, there were things in life I always hoped to experience before becoming a parent. I think at some point most women develop a Baby Bucket List of things they want to do or accomplish before they have children. Two kids later, as I look back on my original bucket list, I see I’ve actually accomplished more “life achievements” than I thought I would have by this point.

1. Travel to Italy – Complete. In fact, the trip to Italy with my husband for my birthday was how I ended up in a general state of pregnancy with my first child.

2. Camp at the Bottom of the Grand Canyon – Incomplete. No, I never made it to the Grand Canyon, but this sounds like a good family vacation idea, so I’ll simply move it to a different list.

3. Audition for a Reality Television Show – Incomplete. While my window has passed for trying out for the shows like The Real World and American Idol, I rationalize this by saying my age now opens me up to audition for more mature reality television shows like the Real Housewives of the Midwest and Extreme Parenting.

4. Be Fluent in a Foreign Language – Incomplete. I always dreamed I’d be one of those cultured parents who raised bilingual children. Unfortunately, all those years of Latin, while helpful in law school, don’t seem overly practical now. I must work on this one.

5. Get Organized – Incomplete. As if this one ever realistically had a chance of coming to fruition. And really, how important could being organized seriously be when it comes to being a parent???

6. Learn to Cook – Complete. While not always pretty and sometime not even edible, my cooking skills keep my family fed and happy with home cooked meals most nights during the week. Maybe if I develop a signature dish or two, I can try out for Top Chef or Throw Down with Bobby Flay. See Baby Bucket List #3.

7. Wrestle an Alligator – Complete. So I’ve never actually wrestled an alligator, but I have given my son several baths. I imagine those two experiences are very similar. In fact, the baths may be more physically and emotionally challenging than the alligator.

8. Run a Marathon – Incomplete. With only 24 hours in the day, it’s hard to maintain the workout regimen I followed before I had children. Still, since becoming a mom, I have been able to compete in shorter races, often bringing my kids along for the ride. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed looking like a rainbow after we finished one of those races where they douse people with colored powered as they run. Months later we’re still cleaning blue powder off our jogging stroller. Note to self: next time leave the expensive stroller at home.

9. Eat Cheesecake for Breakfast – Complete. OK, so this one wasn’t on my original Baby Bucket List, but I quickly added it when I was pregnant with my daughter. By including it on the list, I suddenly felt accomplished, instead of guilty, about a less than healthy breakfast choice one morning during month eight of my pregnancy.

10. Take Care of Myself – Work In Progress – As women, and especially as mothers, we always seem to be putting everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. There is always something else that needs to be done or someone else who needs something from us. We tend to get stretched pretty thin. And while most of us can maintain this pace for a while, even for years, eventually something has to give. Even before I had children, I recognized that if I didn’t take care of myself, I would have a difficult time being all I wanted to be for my family. Achieving this isn’t always easy. Like most mothers, I go through periods where there simply isn’t enough time, and my personal needs are always sacrificed first. But then there are those other times when the latest load of never ending laundry can actually wait, and I find thirty minutes, all to myself, to do whatever I want. It may not sound like a lot of time, but for many moms, it’s all the time we need to recharge and regroup. Finding the balance between career obligations, family responsibilities and personal needs doesn’t come easy. But it’s absolutely necessary if I’m going to give the best of myself to all three of those areas in my life.

About This Blogger: Jen Gehring

Jen-Gehring-LogoWhen she’s not managing political campaigns or teaching law classes, Jen Gehring enjoys spending time with her family, including her two young children. A fashionista and recovering-perfectionist, this busy working mom uses her precious seconds of free time to run, sip wine, and escape into reality television. She’s been a freelance writer for the last five years.