Thirty-some-odd weeks pregnant, belly pressed up against my cubicle desk, I took a quick break from work to tap out a list in the Notes section of my phone:

Clean guest bedroom closet.
Send newborn announcements.
Reorganize home office.
Take items to Goodwill.

Simple, right? I pictured long days at home with my little cherub bouncing peacefully in his colorful swing while I sorted through my husband’s ski clothes from 2001 and my wedding planning books in an effort to reclaim the guest bedroom closet as an actual closet.

I would finally fill out the financial profile our advisor had suggested completing months ago. I’d calculate exactly how much we needed to set aside each month in order to send this no-doubt-a-genius child to the Ivy League one day.

I’d definitely manage to complete more than one workout a day, in the two-a-day summertime format of high school football players. My baby weight would melt off with long, sunlit walks around the neighborhood, and I’d most certainly attend those “mommy and me” exercise classes religiously.

As my maternity leave comes to a close, and I face the prospect of returning to that cubicle, I also face a checklist written by a girl who did not have a clue how laborious motherhood truly is. The only item I’ve crossed off the list is sending newborn announcements, an announcement I added to the back of our Christmas card. Efficiency at its finest. I will absolutely not confess the number of workouts that were completed during this “time off”.

My “Maternity Leave Accomplished List” looks very different from the one dreamed up by pre-baby me:

Learn how to effectively remove spit up from both clothes and upholstery. Check.

Experience heart-piercing gratitude for a husband you also now love with a new capacity you didn’t even know was possible. Check.

Discover all of the ridiculous sounds and faces you are willing to make in an effort to earn just one toothless, priceless, smile. Check.

Let your own mother hold you like a child while your shoulders shake and you cry hormone-induced tears. Check.

Beam with pride as the grocery store cashier compliments you on the adorableness of your son. Check.

Wonder why the bag boy didn’t also notice how stinking adorable your child is. Check.

Realize that drive-thru restaurants were invented for people with babies. A place to eat that doesn’t require getting out of the car? Check.

Cry the good, streaming kind of tears as you and your husband both naturally place hands on your child when a favorite worship song plays. Check.

Laugh hysterically as your mother-in-law attempts to help you don a baby wearing contraption that more accurately resembles a Jedi costume. Check.

Watch your child sleep and silently sing praises of gratitude to God for giving you something so impossibly wonderful. Check. One thousand times check.

Now that I’m three months wiser, I think I’ll keep my to-do list for the rest of motherhood simpler.

Love my family.

Give thanks to God.


Krista McKinney

Krista resides in Georgia (via Nashville, via Dallas) and is gladly outnumbered by boys in her home. Her greatest fear is someone documenting her in Zumba class.