My mom used to say, “I only have two hands. I asked God for ten, but he only gave me two.”
Lately I’ve been realizing how I seldom do only one thing at a time. I don’t know if this is a general American culture thing, a scatterbrained thing, or a mom thing. Yet, at nearly any moment in time, I’m doing two or three things at once.
Cooking dinner? I’m probably also listening to music and negotiating peace between fighting kids.
Driving? Listening to music too.
Eating lunch? I’m making sure the kids are all fed. Or, if I serve them first, then I’m making my lunch while they’re eating and then I’m reading while I eat my own food (with, of course, five interruptions for things that Cannot Wait.)
It goes like this all over the place. To just about every activity you can add “supervising children.” That’s a given. But if I’m alone with the baby, and the baby’s napping, I snag some prayer time — and the cat jumps on me to be petted.
The only time I can say I’m fully doing one thing at a time is housecleaning, since you really can’t multitask scrubbing a bathtub with anything else. Although frankly, if I’m doing something truly monotonous, I’m probably using that head-space for story planning or prayer.
How does that affect our general happiness? It makes me wonder if we’re short-circuiting our own ability to feel joy or sorrow by never being fully present in a single space or a single time. There’s too much to do, yes, but at what point do we say, “Enough,” and that maybe we’re cramming in too much because that way, with everything smashed on top of everything else, it’s easier not to experience anything at all.