The ten minute shower

I didn’t really appreciate the concept of efficiency before having my daughter. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a reasonably smart and capable woman (most of the time) so I knew about efficiency in the abstract sense. And I even had what I thought was a basic aptitude for it (I could shower in under ten minutes, that’s efficient right?). It turns out that once you have kids, your ability to be efficient–and to appreciate it–expands to a degree unfathomable to your pre-kid self. Now I can eat a whole pizza in under five minutes. I can grocery shop in fifteen. And my post-kid self would put my pre-kid self to shame by showering in under three minutes (is it extra efficient if it’s only a few times a week too?).

With this newfound understanding of efficiency, I’ve become more acutely aware of the value of my time. I perform mundane tasks with a strong sense of urgency stalked by a constant flow of questions rattling around my brain (when will nap time be over? When will I have two hands again? What if there is an impending meltdown?). I operate in a ‘must do as many things as possible while I can’ mentality that I believe only people with kids can truly understand.

I sometimes need a reminder of my pre-kid self. I went to lunch the other day, my daughter precariously sleeping in her stroller. When the young server asked if I wanted an appetizer I had to resist the urge to say “an appetizer? I have a three month old! I want my drink, my lunch and the bill all at once!” And at the bank with my daughter fussing in my lap and the customer service representative asking why we didn’t use their bank for our mortgage and trying to sell me the latest credit card. I sit rocking my daughter back and forth mumbling “shhh shhh shhh” trying–and failing–to maintain a modicum of politeness while thinking “can’t you see we need to get out if here!?”

Both server and banker were just doing their jobs, likely oblivious to the questions at the forefront of my mind. Almost four months in and I realize that I need to learn to navigate motherhood with greater patience in these situations. Still I can’t help thinking… If only my pre-kid self understood the preciousness of a ten minute shower!

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