Thursday, September 13, 2012

on multitasking and mothering

I am an amazing multi-tasker. I love being able to work from home because within one hour I can run the kids to school, answer emails, make a conference call, throw a load of laundry in, text a friend, and blog (I may have just described this morning). It's rare that I can just sit. If I'm waiting for the kids to get out of school in the car line, I'm reading a book. If I'm watching TV I'm also working on a project. If I'm at the doctor's office I'm checking emails while I'm in a gown. If I'm in the car I'm listening to a podcast. I'm all about making the most of my time.


Then I had kids. In some ways, multi-tasking becomes necessary. Sleeping and breastfeeding. Grocery shopping, bouncing a baby, talking on the phone, and maneuvering the one year old from eating the gum stuck to the cart. You become a pro at doing a dozen things at once as a mama.

But to my astonishment there were other things I couldn't multi-task AT ALL. Discipline and talking on the phone never go together. Mamas, you know what I mean. You're on a business call and your kids decide now is the perfect time to dress up the dog. First you give the eyebrow raise (my mother perfected the wary brows) that communicate "I don't think that's a good idea guys." You note the poor dog is struggling to get away from the Barbie Princess gown. You now shoot the look. Interpreted, the look is universal for "quit if you know what's good for you." But now elbows are being thrown between siblings fighting between if the tiara or the knight helmet will look best on the poor dog. So the death stare is now given but horribly missed by all the rolling and screaming and kicking and not-so-kind words exchanged between siblings while you talk calmly and sweetly to the person on the other end of the phone and quietly lock yourself in a closet to finish the conversation about how wonderful adoption and parenting and children are.

And it's not just discipline that is impossible to multi-task. It's homework and bedtimes and van rides and meals and devotions and conversations. Essentially whenever my kids are awake. Most days I'm part referee/part cruise ship director as a mom and it takes ALL OF ME.

I forget that with all of this multi-tasking, my primary task is to shepherd my kids hearts. To teach them how crazy Jesus is about them and how to trust Him. To show them that I'm pretty crazy about them too and care about all of the details of their lives.

Admittedly, I need reminding of this often. I'm tempted to check my email, do a chore, or answer the phone when I should be fully engaged with Isabelle and Jackson. Most of the time, all of these tasks can easily be done after they're tucked in bed. This is where my hyper Type A personality that never procrastinates gets me into trouble. Instead of being present with my kids it's easy for me to be busy "doing" rather than simply being with them. So I have to consciously shut the lap top, put up my iPhone to ignore calls and texts, and put off tasks for later.

Even though my children need clean clothes and food in their bellies, even more than that they need a mama who is fully present, engaged, and connected.  Leading their hearts well can only happen when I am down on their level, looking into their eyes, and spending my time and energy wholeheartedly on them.


I want to soak up everything about their childhood and refuse to miss it because I was too busy multi-tasking. I woke up to both of them snuggled up in our bed this morning. Instead of rushing them out of bed so everyone would have enough time to get ready for school, I savored just doing one thing: loving that I have the amazing gift of being their mama.

1 comment:

  1. i really like this post. you ARE an amazing multi-tasker. i've admired that about you since high school (i remember you multi-tasking in the hallways for those few minutes between classes, and in home room each morning).
    in some ways, i've become more an more adept at and committed to such efficiency myself, the older i've gotten. and your'e right: it's an enemy of here-and-now presence in parenting. i, like you, and often reminding myself to forget about the to-do list and just lay on the bed with hazel tickling her for a little bit. thanks for the well-written words to spur me on in that pursuit.

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