The Maternal Multitasker

Someone please stop me, I am becoming my mother.

I saw signs of this metamorphosis during my pregnancy when instead of using free time to sleep I spent free time folding socks and windexing the bathroom mirror. But I thought that I was just experiencing a nesting instinct and that I would go back to my usual low-to-non-existent-energy self once the baby was here.

The baby’s birth, however, seems to have tripped a latent portion of my DNA that causes at least half of my brain to be consumed at all times with the thought of chores that need to be done. In the time it takes Jon to change Leta’s morning diaper I can have the dishwasher unloaded, bagels toasted, coffee brewed, bed made, and dog pooped, and that’s only if the diaper hasn’t leaked. On the frequent occasion that she’s covered in pee and and Jon has to take a few extra minutes to change her clothes, I can wallpaper the living room and mow the lawn.

When I was a kid I hated this about my mother, her constant need to get something done around the house. If she was talking to a friend on the phone she was also dusting the living room or hauling dirty clothes to the washing machine. On Saturday mornings she was up at the crack of dawn vacuuming her bedroom or scrubbing the tiles in the shower, and I remember thinking, doesn’t she know the Smurfs are on? Why would she mop the kitchen floor when there were Smurfs to be watched?

Now that I am a mother I realize that “free time” is one of the many luxuries people give up when they decide to procreate. I kind of understood this going into the whole parenthood thing, but it’s not something you can TRULY appreciate, like everything else about parenthood, until it drops on your head like a piano shoved out of a window 80 stories high.

Free time is the four minutes it takes Jon to change Leta’s diaper; it’s the one minute I have to use the bathroom after I set her down in the crib; it’s the 30 seconds she will remain calm in the carseat after we return from the grocery store. On the now infrequent occasion that she remains napping for longer than 20 minutes I feel like a teenage boy who has just locked himself in the bathroom with a stack of porn magazines, like OH MY GOD, THE POSSIBILITIES.

Before Leta was born I used to hate to run errands, and I would put off going to the grocery store until the milk was so expired that it had grown arms, legs, and a fully functioning liver. Now I want to go to the grocery store every day if only to see other human beings who speak in sentences and can wipe their own asses. It reassures me that there is living, breathing life outside of the twilight zone existence of taking care of a creature whose only means of communication is through her bowels.

The other night Jon let me go to the grocery store alone, something a new father should be very wary of letting a new mother do, because once I was behind that steering wheel I became drunk with the freedom. I honestly thought that the car might sprout wings and take off in the air, and I was flooded with grand ideas of escaping to Montana where I could assume a new identity and drink martinis and sleep in until 8 AM. It would have been so easy to just keep driving, forever. Maybe no one would notice I was gone!

But five minutes into shopping at the grocery store and I started to miss that little motherfucker. WHY WAS I MISSING HER? That was MY time. Why was I thinking about her little cold feet and her fuzzy hair and the yummy creases in her baby thighs? WHY WHY WHY?

So I didn’t gas up and drive to Montana, but instead came back home and immediately went into the house to smell the back of her neck (mmmmm, baby neck). And while she was still under Jon’s watchful eye I landscaped the backyard and remodeled the basement.