In the days before I had a child I had a job. A good job in which time management skills were essential. The ability to juggle conflicting priorities; deal with an angry patient, a clinic seriously overrunning, a piece of essential theatre equipment breaking, all whilst dealing with urgent paperwork were all literally in a days work for me. I usually dealt with all that with casual aplomb, quietly congratulating myself on my cool head under pressure.
This morning I was sat on the loo, brushing my teeth and running a bath. The small boy wanders in and needs his bottom wiping, which I do, still sat on the loo, toothbrush hanging out of the side of my mouth. He needs clean pants so he fetches them for me and we get him dressed. I’m still sat on the loo because I haven’t had a chance to get off it yet and I reflect on what glorious multitasking skills a parent needs just to get even a rudimentary wash of a morning.
Cooking tea is a similar rigmarole. Stirring a pan whilst the small boy brings his potty to show me, complete with its little brown friend, I have to deal with the contents and the dirty bottom whilst trying not to burn the meal I’ve slaved over. If he’s not proudly presenting me with his doings, then he’s drawing on the wall, or falling over and needing a cuddle, or a million other things which demand my attention.
The small boy can have my attention. As much of it as he wants and needs because he won’t be a small boy for long. But why does he always need it when I’m sat on the loo, or in the bath trying to snatch five short moments of peace or juggling four pans and a hot oven. Why?
I know I’m not alone in this, I know if you’re a parent and you’re reading this, you’ll be nodding along. You might even maybe sat on the loo, toothbrush hanging out of your mouth, reading this on your phone whilst a small child is doing the I want attention dance around you.
Knowing that you have corporate level multitasking skills won’t make your day-to-day life any easier, but it does mean that you have a tooth-brushing, bottom-wiping, teddy bear-finding superpower than non-parents almost certainly lack. Well done parent. Well done.