Hi, my name is Megan, and I’m addicted to multitasking.
Having kids has made me realize the value of time -my time, they’re time, our time- but I’ve realized (especially since having two) that instead of really making our time count, I’ve started making the time count. Before I had kids I had a hard time getting everything I wanted to get done, done in a day – things like paint your nails, finish a couple more episodes of Parenthood, organize your music library, rearrange your living room, set up a Google hang out so you can drink with your long-distance friends. You know, REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF. But now that I have kids it’s tough getting all the basic life tasks done – laundry, dishes, cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, showering – let alone worrying about the arrangement of furniture in my living room or the accurateness of the order of music in my music library. So, I make up for my lack of time by making the most out of it, the only problem is, the quality of my time has diminished greatly. I struggle daily to get simple chores accomplished and – believe it or not – it can be a really heavy feeling. It affects a lot of things.
My attention span is minimal. I can’t remember the last time I had a focused conversation (without booze ). Soaking up time with my kids looks like the three of us in the same room, me doing 20 things, them doing 25 things and talking about 50 and my responding every 10th (if they’re lucky…well, if I’m lucky). I’m always trying to clean something while thinking about four other things, fixating on work conversations and possible things I might have forgotten, checking my Slack messages (just to be sure no one is trying to reach me), worrying about the kids’ schedules, what time they need to eat next, what the lesson plan is tomorrow and if they need anything at school. At the same time I’m trying to carry on conversations with my two-year-old and Seth, simultaneously. Me and Seth’s conversations aren’t even complete anymore. We give each other recaps of our days while blurting out random thoughts we want the other to not forget or yelling “Matty, no thank you!” or just blatantly starting a side convo with Matty – it’s hard to think about anything when there is a small person climbing up your leg whining, screaming or throwing themselves at your feet. The other day I literally gave up, “Forget it. I’m done talking about this. Nevermind. This is fucking pointless.” And despite Seth’s efforts to re-engage, there was just no salvaging our adult conversation. Patience is also hard to come by these days, who has the time to be patient when there are 900 things to be done?!
MY MIND IS A HIGH-SPEED TRAIN WRECK IN THE MIDST OF A FULL ON SNOWMAGEDDON.
All because, over time, I’ve let the real lesson that started this whole thing get away from me.
As a working mom, there’s this underlying pressure to still be as available, as good, as present and as dedicated as you always were. I don’t even know how other moms have time to be in a competition with anyone else, I’m over here just drowning trying to keep up with my old self. And, for me, that’s something that seems like it should be unquestionably unattainable. So, I multi-task and multi-task and I push and I push, and I end up here. Frazzled. Reminding myself, it’s not the amount of things I can fit into the time, but the things I or those around me can take away from our time. I’ve stretched myself so thin that I walk away from adult conversations feeling guilty because I wasn’t as attentive or caring or present as I should have been – because I was checking messages, jotting down reminders to myself or staring off into space trying to remember if I gave Abbott his medicine. I find myself tuning back into reality after drowning everything out in the midst of texts or emails or an intriguing article to find Matty standing at my feet looking at me repeating mama. I’m missing the inside jokes with my friends. I’m missing the small moments with the boys. I’m too busy stressing over the newest mess or checking to make sure no one else needs me or trying recount everything I’ve been trying to keep tabs on to make sure I’m still “succeeding”.
I’ve become obsessed multitasking. And now I’m missing the whole fucking point. I’m doing everything and experiencing nothing.
When this whole parenting thing started, so many people gave me the same advice. It goes too fast, enjoy it. Even last week an older woman at the mall who was shopping with her adult son said to me, “Enjoy them. This won’t last long. Mine are all grown up already.” The way she looked at the boys made my heart melt. I wondered if she had ever felt the same way I do and if she regretted it, but mostly it reminded me to remember not to regret it. And in order to do that, I’ve got to stop sweating the small stuff and forget about who I was and what I did before having kids, because that’s not my reality anymore.
Our time is valuable – that’s the the real lesson, for all of us. It’s not about how many things we can juggle. Or how much we can get done – “getting it done” should not be our standard for success. It’s the quality of our time, our time together that’s valuable. It’s the memories. The relationships. The laughs. The exchange. The presence. The mark you leave. It’s the quality of the outcome.
I need to remember not to multitask so much. But mostly, I need remember to enjoy it. Because it won’t last forever – and missing all of this is not a regret I can afford to have later.