Soon after Oli was born, I congratulated myself on devising a major time-saving plan. If you've dressed an infant in the last ten years, you'll know that the designers of baby clothes just love poppers. There are poppers at the crotch, poppers at the neck, poppers down the middle and sometimes half-way up the back. Some of Oli's trousers would look like chaps but for the poppers, and just when you think you've got to the end, you realise you've popped it up all wrong, and you have to start all over again. Are they trying to drive us sleep-deprived parents even crazier? Wouldn't velcro just be so much easier?
Here was my plan: I was only going to pop one of the crotch poppers on Oli's onesies. Haaa! It was going to save me hours. I'd be accumulating time like reward points on a credit card. I reckoned I'd be saving about 2 seconds at every change. And in that early muddle of breastfeeding and sleep-deprivation I could smell a lie-in.
Women in the street, often mothers themselves, look nostalgically at your infant and tell you how fast time goes. They tell you to savour every minute, as if you're the one chasing your child into Kindergarten. But it's not us who sets the pace. These days I feel that if I take a night off, a night away from meal planning and preparing, or doing laundry or thinking ahead to creative distractions for my children, hell, if I indulge myself in an early bath or just zone out for a while, then I am in debt for an entire week; endlessly scrabbling to get back on track; desperately trying to produce something edible from an empty fridge or get that nasty damp smell from the clothes I let sit in the washer too long.
I had so many ideas for what I'd do with my extra seconds. I was going to sell a line of re-purposed woolens, patchwork a duvet cover out of a bunch of old shirts, customize some napkins for birthdays and christmas, finish that toy garage, write a book!
I remember talking to a childless friend soon after I'd had my first son. I was, no doubt, harping on about this issue of time.
"The baby does nap, right?" she said.
"Well, yes," I agreed "but the chore count has quadrupled."
Oliver is now one year old and no longer in onesies, which makes me wonder how I spent those extra seconds. This evening, precious minutes passed as I tried to get a splinter out from under my thumb nail, only to find it was a grain of sand, and not the source of the throbbing at all. No doubt, some of those seconds went into similarly memorable moments. Or perhaps I just lingered a bit longer with little boy I was stealing from; another kiss, another raspberry on his soft, round tummy.
Even so, I still think there's room for velcro.