i don’t know about you, but i’m a little worn out. & i don’t think it’s my four energizer bunny children, or the vast array of laundry to fold around here.
nope, i think it’s something else entirely.
i don’t know when i got so good at multi-tasking, maybe in college. checking out boys while studying for western civ. yes, probably then.
maybe when i coached high school basketball just after we were married, or when i helped andy all those wednesday nights with youth group in the old gym in osceola. layer the gigantic nacho platter while discussing volleyball & stupid boys & stupid teachers. yes, probably then.
maybe it began then, but my abilities really took on super-human strength after i had kids: “look at me! i’m doing the dishes & nursing the baby! i’m settling four thousand arguments & nursing the baby! i’m driving & nursing the baby!” looks away nervously. . . .
it doesn’t matter when, or that i took exceptional pride in my ability to GET. STUFF. DONE. I (capital letter)
was am productive. i may not have it all together as a mom, but i could knock a to-do list out of the ballpark. i may be a bald woman with no fashion sense, but i could beat your butt with tasks accomplished.
AND. if i root around in my heart a little bit, i have to ask: why???
what’s the big hoopla about accomplishing things?
is there a magic race somewhere, invisible, that i’m running & winning?
because it sure feels like i’m trying.
a couple mornings ago i fried pancakes on hot cast iron, standing at the stove in my hoodie & pink, plaid pajama pants. & i forced myself to stay there, flipping pancakes, just to prove to myself that i could go without multi-tasking. i’m not an addict, i told myself, twitching. i can do this, just standing here, while the children run the kitchen-living room-dining room loop, while the toddler unloads yet another cupboard — water bottles, french press, jar lids. i will not jump to anything else, not even facebook.
because my usual pancake flipping goes something like this:
begin frying cakes.
while cakes are frying, put all ingredients back in the cupboard.
pick up fussing toddler, shift to right arm.
put dirty dishes in the sink, with the rest of last night’s dishes.
flip cakes off onto plate; begin again.
pacify toddler with some trinkety thing, set down.
answer daughter’s spelling question.
notice pancakes are burning,
& dishwater is threathening to spill bubbles all over creation.
flip pancakes after shutting off water & spelling “h-a-p-p-y-b-i-r-t-h-d-a-y”
while the boys run around with pvc guns with “back in black” playing in the background.
spell it again because the boys are too loud.
pour on more batter, turning down the burner.
pick up toddler again, shift to right arm.
tell boys to turn down the music.
flip the pancakes.
lather, rinse, repeat.
no wonder i’m tired,
& this is just breakfast.
so, as i stood JUST flipping pancakes the other morning,
though i went a little batty watching the dishes pile & the countertops clutter,
the toddler strew & the big kids roar,
my internal temperature didn’t rise like it usually does.
this is new.
there is no race. i am not winning.
i shouldn’t even be trying.
multi-tasking is killing me.
& i’m out.
i’ll catch you on the slow side.
wave while you speed by, will you?
i’ll be the one twitching.