Multi-tasking isn’t such a big deal. Women have been doing it since Eve.
American women have finessed it to an art form.
American women with children have attained the pinnacle of its supremacy.
Most of this multi-tasking is mental, in that while you’re washing the dishes and refereeing an argument at the breakfast table, you’re thinking, “I’ll get those bills paid later this morning, after starting a load of laundry. A couple birthdays coming up — I’d better get some ideas going. Oops — smells like someone needs to be changed.”
If you’re working outside the home, the dishes, laundry, bills, birthdays and arguments will be waiting for you in the evening, not to mention the person who needs to be changed, although it is sincerely hoped that this particular afternoon project was cared for.
Rarely are you living precisely in the present, and the more children in the house and the younger they are, the more tasks there are to process. Before you know it, ten years have gone by, many of those children have driver’s licenses, and you’ve developed this distressing habit of living in the future. Now, in addition to the bills, laundry, dishes, birthdays — but not necessarily diaper changing — you think,
“Everyone’s growing up. Soon we’ll be all alone. How will I deal with this?”
Are you there yet? I am.
Popularly, it’s called Empty Nest Syndrome; supposedly, women worldwide welcome this liberation from the noise and chaos of children in the house; in real life, I suspect most people hate it as much as I do.
But one thing it’s teaching me, before it’s too late, is to stop mentally multi-tasking and force myself to be in the present, full time, fully engaged, and without a thought to the future, because none of us know, or can control, what happens within the next 32 seconds, much less five minutes, week, months, or years from now.
By the time you finish this article, your life could have radically changed — and you may not even know it. Good or bad, often in between, life’s circumstances happen continuously. This hit me between the eyes when The Norwegian Artist and I were discussing Small One, our granddaughter, and her upcoming fourth birthday.
“I wonder what she’ll be like when she’s 17?” the Norwegian mused.
How could we possibly know? I thought. And if we can’t foresee 13 years into the future, why do we live our lives as if we could? Year after year of moving from one project to the next, planning out two chores ahead while I’m in the midst of another one, has trained me to never stop and fully be in the present, a significant chunk of which is now in the past. And looking backwards, I don’t remember the laundry, the dishes, the bills, the chores — I remember the people, many of whom are still in my life today, just not the way they were 10 years ago.
Yesterday, I sat on the porch, soaking up the sun, with a kitty on my left, my knitting in my lap, and Tired of Being Youngest to my right. Initially, my thoughts raced on about TBY and how quickly she was growing, and how quickly she would be gone. I assure you, that’s a good way to turn a sunny day into a dark one.
So I stopped. Pet the cat (she’s long haired, and has dreadful mats), put down my knitting, and turned to Tired of Being Youngest.
“Do you want me to help you study for your quiz?” I asked.
She looked up, surprised. Usually I’m too busy to do this kind of stuff.
For 45 minutes, we companionably discussed the different kinds of fruit — melons, pomes, berries, pitted — and gently chatted and laughed.
I don’t know where she, or I, will be 3 years from now, or 3 months from now, or 32 seconds from now, but that afternoon, we were together — and I was there, in the present, soaking up each moment as my skin soaked up the sun.
It was warm and delicious.
All of the fine artwork in my articles is by Steve Henderson, and is available direct from the artist as originals, signed limited edition prints, and posters. Read more on my Artwork page, and contact me — firstname.lastname@example.org, to find out how you can own fine art.