“Where does the time go?”
The mother of all clichéd parenting conundrums. I ask myself this whopper every evening when I slide into home base with wrinkled dishwater hands, a messy ponytail (not cute-messy), and a drooling toddler sleeping on a mini mattress at the foot of my bed.
What did I do today? Besides the obvious of feeding, watering, cleansing, and entertaining my darling? I wish I could answer that question with a flowing list of creative, stimulating, and Earth-shattering achievements, but in reality this is where most of my spare mom time goes.
Why is voyeurism so enticing?! I just can’t get enough of the fabulous updates and photos of people I barely know living much more glamorous lives than myself. Maybe they’re just good at Photoshop and self aggrandizement but, whatever it is, they captivate me.
Reading comments from blog trolls
Their wickedness is hard to turn away from. Cruel comments are like anonymous car accidents. This time-wasting activity is starting to slowly eat away at my soul, so hopefully I’ll be replacing this one with writing “the next great American anti-bullying board book” someday soon.
Standing at the kitchen sink
I guess that’s what the kitchen door and eating out is for. My husband works out of the house during the day, I only have one child, and I’m not a whiz in the kitchen, yet I still seem to be gazing at the backsplash behind my kitchen sink all day: it just stares and (yawns) at me. There’s a good chance you have more people (which equals more dishes) in your house, and I have massive respect for you.
Thinking about exercising
Thinking about putting on my workout clothes, setting them in the bathroom for when I’m ready to change out of my PJs, eating something so rich I’ll have to wait half an hour before attempting to exercise, finding the matching sock, tying my shoelaces, deciding what I will do to break a sweat — it all takes longer than the exercise itself, if I ever get around to that part at all. That’s why you see women in exercise gear at the grocery store and library; we have the best of intentions.
Starting and stopping
My day is composed of hours of doing 45 seconds of this really important thing, two minutes of thinking about starting that creative endeavor, and five minutes (if I’m lucky) of polishing off a project started last week. And unfortunately, I can’t blame my child for distracting me. Even when he’s asleep, I find myself washing the first of many food encrusted dishes, then responding to one-and-a-half Facebook messages, then texting my mom a few emoticons, then writing a few potential titles for a blog post before I realize I left the water running over the now soggy, food-encrusted dishes.
Reading kids’ books and watching TV
These activities can happily vacuum up my time. Although most of them are composed of cardboard or animation, I’m always up for a feature film or making up new voices to go with the characters I know so well (I’m talking to you Richard Scarry). I guess this is just a part of entertaining my child, but I enjoy it just as much as he does, and it takes time.
Making birthday party invitations
If I get sucked into creating an e-vite that offers the option of featuring a photo of my child (and, let’s be real, I always select this option), I proceed to spend three hours looking for the perfect choice, then another hour looking through the e-vite options trying to find one that offers a photo collage option. Sure, this isn’t a daily occurrence, but I’m always shocked by how much time it eats when it comes up.
Getting massages and blow-outs
Wait, no, that’s my childless friend on Facebook.
I have an almost constant flow of underlying worry coursing through me. Even when I’m not consciously aware of a reason to worry, I always feel like it’s there, waiting to be uncovered. When I have a quiet moment, my mind often thinks the most productive use of the silence is to bring out the worry so I can “fix it.” It rarely works; I probably need to spend that time in therapy.
You might think that I mean negotiating with my toddler, but I’m actually referring to negotiating with myself about … well, almost everything. (But yes, I also spend hours negotiating with my mini defense attorney.)
With that said, maybe time is just an illusion and on some parallel universe I’m busy curing cancer while I scroll through Facebook in this world. Maybe.