I will unashamedly admit that, before becoming a Mum, I was pretty damn good at multi-tasking. Now I have multi-tasking super-powers. I am freakin’ amazing at it. Sorry if this sounds like boasting, but it’s true.
This expanded ability may be a result of my plentiful new brain-cells, which, apparently, multiplied in copious numbers after giving birth (see my recent post “Parents Inc.” for more on this surprising phenomenon).
Example: yesterday, while 8-month old Magoo was napping, I managed to get our dinner started, and while this was bubbling merrily away, I wrote some emails, stirred the dinner, put a load of dirty washing in the washing machine and a load of clean washing in the dryer, made a phone-call while stirring the dinner, and on it went until Magoo woke up. (It must be noted that I managed not to burn the dinner and it was mighty tasty. Even Magoo thought so – a coup!).
Having a baby has made me get my organisational shit together. If Magoo is napping and we need to leave the house as soon as she wakes up, I know exactly what to do and the allotted minutes I have to complete each task, which to prioritise and which can wait until later. Expressing and bottling milk: 20 minutes. Packing lunch: 5 minutes. Dressing myself: 3 minutes. Making bed: no minutes.
I realise that all of this stuff about task lists, efficiency, prioritisation and the like sounds a hell of a lot like work. Even in the absence of an office to go to, I am still guilty of trying to achieve a set number of tasks each day as a way of structuring an orderly and meaningful life.
I say ‘guilty’ because I do find these little daily accomplishments meaningful. And because this suggests that being a Mum to Magoo is not meaningful enough.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is by far the most meaningful thing I have ever done. But becoming a Mum was also the biggest head-spin I have ever experienced. Diving from full-time work and study into full-time Mum-dom made my structured life spin out of control. So, I guess that completing some small tasks every day (in addition to caring for Magoo), by making them perfect and ticking them off my to-do list, helps me feel a little less different to how I did as a “working person”. It helps me to quantify, to determine, to concretise…a few things, at least.
There is a big BUT in all of this.
For what is probably the first time in my life, I have also been able to slow right down, when it counts, when I’m spending time with Magoo.
Sometimes this takes a conscious effort, but mostly it has come quite naturally (a surprise, really). Perhaps this is because I am spending time with my own kid. I used to find playing kids’ games really boring; now I can play silly games with Magoo for ages, just trying to make her laugh. We go around the house scratching different surfaces with our fingernails to see what noises they make. We look at the same picture books over and over again. I used to hate browsing in shops when I’m not buying anything, but now Magoo and I can wander aimlessly around Kmart, checking out all the toys or the baby clothes.
And – at least for now – I worry less about all the stuff I used to worry about in my job. A lot of it seems pretty meaningless now that I have a bigger (little) fish to fry.