I knew I had arrived as a mother the night I made a full spaghetti dinner while holding my fussy infant. As with everything in life, you never know what you are capable of until you are really put to the test. For instance, I never knew I could open the oven door with my foot. But when the garlic bread is burning and your arms are occupied by a crying baby, you pull out all the stops to save the dinner. Yep, that night I realized I had joined the ranks of the millions of mothers who had come before me—those who routinely accomplish ten different things using only two hands. I had become a Mommy Multitasker.
And it didn’t stop there. The spaghetti dinner night was just my first foray into the high wire act of parenting and planning. I soon learned how to fold towels while cradling my growing baby in my crisscrossed legs. Before long I was feeding him cereal in between bites of my own and propping his bottle up with my chin while typing out emails.
A few years later I stepped up my game and learned how to juggle two kids and a career, and I even managed to vacuum the floor every once in a while. I could drive with my left hand, replace a fallen pacifier with my right, listen to the Market Update on NPR, and hold a conversation about penguins with my toddler all at the same time. And that one day in 2010 when I managed to achieve the double nap (triple if you count the tired Mama) and get both kids to sleep at the same time during the afternoon…well, I felt like I had just caught the Golden Snitch in the Quidditch World Cup. It was an epic achievement and, with nobody else around to acknowledge my greatness (and two sleeping cherubs that only allowed for a whispered “Yay!”), I snuggled up next to them and celebrated my victory with a well-deserved rest.
Instead of settling into my crazy life as a mother of two and learning how to navigate the growing demands of my growing children, I opted instead to advance directly to the master level of multitasking. I added a third baby…because who needs more time when you can have more love instead? And like Jenga tiles on a wooden table, I began stacking my time in 15-minute increments and delicately balancing pieces to ensure that they wouldn’t all come crashing down.
As a result, a typical conversation with my husband now sounds like this:
Me: “Honey, both kids have hockey tonight so I will pick them up from school at 4:00 and have them home by 4:15. From 4:15-4:30 they can have a snack and then they need to start getting their gear on. I will take Cy at 4:45 to Notre Dame and you need to take Tala to the Icebox at 5:00. Don’t forget to get some dinner on the way home. Cy can take a shower when he gets back at 7:15 and Tala can jump in at 7:30. Teeth brushed at 7:45 followed by books and bedtime by 8:30.”
Husband: “What about the baby?”
Me: “I’ve already packed her snacks, diapers, and some crayons…she’ll have to go along for the ride. Remember, if you get in a bind, she responds well to popcorn.”
Mommy Multitaskers are well versed on the concept of scarcity. There is never enough time, never enough hands, and never enough goldfish. They make do with what they have and they are the ultimate negotiators. I once split a peppermint in half by cracking it against the sidewalk. I then had to bite off the millimeter of excess on one half to make sure they were both given evenly portioned pieces. And then my daughter decided she didn’t like peppermint and threw it out the window.
They are the original MacGyvers, armed with baby wipes and fruit snacks. They can put long hair in a ponytail, fast forward through the commercials on Doc McStuffins, and keep the baby from falling off the couch all without batting an eye. What’s that Son, you need a 100 Days shirt by tomorrow morning? Nothing a trip to the dollar store and a hot glue gun can’t fix…and we’ll even use this shirt fresh out of the dryer. (One less piece of clothing to fold…err, stuff into the laundry basket for a few days.) What’s that you say my sweet girl…your pinky toe has a sliver in it? Get me those tweezers over there, and I’ll pluck it out right before I get to work on my own eyebrows. Like Miss Manners said in A League of Their Own, “There should be two not one.”
Yes, Mommy Multitaskers are a class rivaled by few. They keep the house clean(ish), the homework checked, the kids fed, the uniforms washed, the appointments kept, the beds made, the emails answered, the meetings attended, and the babies kissed. And they do it all with a smile (hehehe…that’s funny right there) and a few frayed nerves. And, once in a while, they manage to get all of the items on their daily list checked off with a little bit of energy and eyelid power to spare after the kids have been tucked in for the night. It’s then that they perform their favorite multitask: glass of wine in one hand, bowl of popcorn in the other, and eyes focused on The Bachelor. Sure, we might be a bit more tired when the alarm goes off on Tuesday morning, but it’s a sacrifice us Mommy Multitaskers are willing to make.