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Something I never really appreciated in my pre-baby days is the amount of stuff I can get done in one quiet hour. When you’re on your own schedule, it’s easy to put things off until you feel like doing them. In this new reality, nothing is ever on my schedule, and I’m learning fast to make the best of the downtime.

We’re trying to sell our house, and in preparing, I’ve noticed a lot of little things that need to be done. While my son went down for his afternoon nap, I decided to tackle a bit of touch up painting, including a bit of trim and the steps. It didn’t take long, and I remembered that I don’t actually mind painting all that much. I finished the trim, cleaned up my brushes and was just drying my hands when I heard my son stirring on the baby monitor.

I bring him down for his afternoon snack, and as I’m turning to put his food in the microwave, I catch a blur of gray fur in my periphery. Normally, I wouldn’t react, since the cat is welcome to be up there, but something clicks off in my mind from normal “doo doo doo, making stuff in the kitchen” to “OMG! RED ALERT! KITTEH ON WET PAINT! THIS IS NOT A DRILL PEOPLE!!!”

I turn and in that perfect slow motion “NOOOOOO!!!!!” the cat is startled enough to fall down to the carpeted steps below, smearing white paint onto the wall, making tiny white paw prints as he sprints upstairs, across the laminate flooring, bounding over the baby gate, across the side table and under the couch. Meanwhile, the toddler is screaming because of the upset, and noise, and thinking somehow that I’m mad at something he did.

So I calm my son, coax the skittish kitty from his hiding place, clean up his paws and the aftermath of his destruction. I look around at the mess and consider if I’d have been better off just leaving the damn paint alone for the day.