Wednesday, May 22, 2013


There is no shortage of things demanding my attention these days.  The hierarchy is clear, when I step back and actually look at it, but when that little ding erupts from my phone, or when the buzz from the dryer goes off, or when the mood strikes me to reorganize something now, I have very little willpower to ignore or postpone those things.

I've spent much of my time in the last few months and even the last year seeking balance in my life.  I'm fortunate in that, at least for now, I don't have to balance a full-time job with being a mother and wife.  But even without that, I often feel like I'm not spending enough time with my family.  And not only that, I often feel as if I don't have any time for all of the other things I'd like to do.  As I've started to look at my life and internalize what's going on, it's become clear why that is.

It's the simple act of multi-tasking.  Or multi-non-tasking, in my case.

Because, for me at least, I've realized that it's impossible to give myself to more than one thing at any given moment.  Once I start trying to focus on more than one thing at a time, everything suffers.  When my daughter's want to do a craft, and I'm in the middle of reading something or writing something or folding laundry or cooking dinner or thinking about what I need to get done that day, I can't give myself to them in the way that I want to , in the way that they need, in the way that they deserve.  I cannot browse facebook, paint a butterfly, cook a healthy dinner, cut paper hearts out of construction paper, work on the family budget, soothe a crying baby, and make a grocery list all at the same time.

I can't do it.

Separately, I can do each of those things and do them well, do them the way I need to in order to feel like I can leave them once they are done.  But when I try to fit too many things into a single moment, nothing fits.  Each simple task is done begrudgingly and often quite poorly.  And no one is fooled.  My children don't look at me as an awesome mom who's getting it all done.  What they hear – loud and clear – is that their needs are less important than {fill in the blank}.  That is not the message I want to send to them, and it's certainly not the way I feel in my heart.  Nothing could be more important than them; not laundry, not the phone or computer, not dinner, not bills, not television, nothing.

They don't ding or buzz or have any fancy gadget attached to them.   But that doesn't make their needs any less imperative.  More so, in fact.  They need me, the whole me, the full, undivided me.  They don't need to compete with other things to win my attention.  They don't need the multi-tasking me.

I often notice their need for attention manifesting in behaviors I dislike;  bickering, whining, clinging, negative attitudes.  They are struggling to tell me through their actions that the things of the world have come between us.  Their needs are often not tangible, and they can't often articulate them.  At times, neither can I.  But I know what it means to be frustrated and feel the warmth of comforting words letting me know they believe in me.  I know how it feels to be down and lonely, and then to be made whole by the loving embrace of those closest to me.  My children know that feeling too.  And those moments are the things that they need.  They need to be heard.  They need me to listen.  They need to show off sometimes.  They need to know that no matter what, I am their's when they need me.  Not a piece of me, the whole me.  And I find that when I give them my complete attention when they need it, they drink it up and are full and enriched and just as quickly they move to the next whispering of their hearts.  And it's in those fullest of moments that I often hear my own soul whispering.  The things that feed my soul begin to speak to me.  And I'm free to listen.

I don't have to give up my own pursuits to make time for my children.  I have time.  I just need to shut down, switch off, throw out that little voice inside that's always saying I don't.  I do.  So do you.  We have time for the things we love and for the people we love.  I won't give those up.  I could, but I would be less me if I did.  I want to experience my life not just live through it.  I want to show my children the beauty in my soul, and I want to encourage them to show the world the beauty in theirs.  Life is nothing if not a series of choices.  I am a collection of the ambitions I give myself over to.  Each action defines what my life will be.  I can choose to live each moment half-way, cramming in as much as I can.  Or I can be present one moment at a time.  By giving myself to each moment, I will certainly feel more fulfilled and enriched through my journey, and my soul will be free to enrich those around me.

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