Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mad Skills

When I worked in Corporate America I thought I had mad skills. I could manage multi-million dollar accounts, give bad-ass presentations to Very Important People and not bat an eyelash. I could soothe ruffled feathers, politic and multi-task with the best of them. My plans for World Domination were chugging along nicely.

But, let me tell you, that was amateur hour compared to parenting. With apologies to those Very Important People who go through their business day thinking they are accomplishing a lot, keeping all the proverbial balls in the air - you ain't got nothing on me now.

If a CEO showed up at my house to apply for the job of being a Mom, I know exactly what I'd do. Forget your basic job application, filled out quietly while sitting at a tidy table. Step on into my kitchen around 5pm with the simple task of preparing dinner, and then we'll see what you're made of. Lets see if you can talk on the phone, cook mac and cheese, tie tiny string leashes onto the necks of dozens of Littlest Pet Shops, referee a fight between the kids and wipe up the spilled juice on the floor with a paper towel under your foot. Simultaneously. For starters.

The other day, I'm trying to get some work done, make some jewelry. By some cruel twist of fate, my kids aren't big television watchers. "Go watch TV, PLEASE!" I heard myself saying to my kids. "Or play a video game - or something!" No such luck. Greta switched on the TV, saw "Yo Gabba Gabba" on, put her hands to her eyes and said "It burns! It burns!" and turned it off.

"I need to do work now," I say patiently. "Please entertain yourselves for an hour, and then we'll go do something fun."

I settle in, and the kids retreat to the playroom and play happily for about five minutes. Then Greta wanders in. "Mom?" she says. "I'm a princess? In a castle? And I'm an orphan?"

"Mmm hmmm," I reply distractedly.

"And you're the Mean Orphanage Lady? Who makes us work? So you give us chores to do, and we don't like you?"

"Got it, right," I say, barely listening.

The phone rings - a client I need to talk to about a custom order. So I'm beading, talking to my client and being the Mean Orphanage Lady all at the same time. Thankfully, my client is also a Mom, so she is completely unfazed by my periodic shouts of "Now wash those floors until they gleam!" or "Nothing but porridge for you!" while we're talking. Finn is potty training, every use of the toilet needing it's own parade - and so he goes a lot. So now I'm talking on the phone, ordering my little orphan princess around and smiling like a maniac in the bathroom and clapping for my son. The dog is barking - she needs to go out. Finn is saying "its a GOOD one, right Momma?" and pointing to the toilet, my client is talking into my ear and Greta is method acting, mopping the floor dramatically and singing some song of woe. I hang up the phone, let the dog out, give Finn a sticker for using the potty, give the Orphan Princess another chore. I wander into the next room, thinking "what was I doing again?" Only fifteen minutes has passed.

I saw a television show once, an experiment about multi-tasking, and how men and women are different (insert comment about gender stereotyping here). They took one man and one woman, and put them in their own glass room full of equipment and gave them each the same list of things they needed to accomplish. The man was an executive, the woman a mother (insert comment about gender stereotyping here). They gave them 15 minutes to accomplish every item. The list included: make a phone call, cook toast, boil water, send a fax, clean the counters and make some photo copies. The man picked up his list, and went through each item, one at a time. He got halfway through the list.

The woman set the pot on to boil, hit send on the fax, plopped the paper into the copier to copy, put the toast in the toaster, picked up the phone - all while wiping the counters. She was done in five minutes, looking at the camera as if to say, "is this all you got?"


  1. totally. I travel for work once or twice a year and my husband usually likes to fly his mom up for the week to "help him handle it all"...the stuff I do every day...this last time he did it all alone and did pretty well, but the laundry was waiting for me and I think my kid ate PB on toast every meal for a week.

  2. It is a BIG relief for me to go to work 2.5 days a week. All I have to do is practice law and decide what to get at Starbucks. I use that much brainpower just negotiating the after school snacks!

  3. ha ha ha...love the last little example...as a matter of fact, copying it to use as an example next time my T-hub says 'I just don't know how you do it, b/c when it's me...' and no it's not super powers given by boobs!!...yes, that is a serious excuse ;)

  4. It is a BIG relief for me to go to work 2.5 days a week. All I have to do is practice law and decide what to get at Starbucks. I use that much brainpower just negotiating the after school snacks!