Unfortunately and fortunately, multi-tasking is my first language. My native tongue. Of course, multi-tasking has its benefits, but it also has its pitfalls. I love to accomplish. The more I multi-task, the more I achieve. I recall coming home from the grocery store when Oldest was an infant -- holding him with one arm, propping a bottle in his mouth with my chin, and emptying grocery bags away with my "free" hand. Accomplish much? Yes, I guess so. But, I missed watching him swallow as he guzzled his milk. I missed the way he gazed at me when I looked at him.
Slowly, but surely, I am learning the language of single-tasking. Focusing on the moment, that thing right in front of me. Whether it is a task or a child or a conversation. There is something to be said for focus and living in the moment. I think multi-tasking makes me believe if I hurry through these moments, there will be more time for focusing at the end. That's the lie of multi-tasking since there is always more to do.
When I drive my car without the distraction of a cell-phone conversation, I am enriched by conversation with my own children. Often we use that time to pray together or just to talk. Really talk. I don't want to miss out on that.
When we go on a bike-ride or walk, it is tempting to "plug in" to my I-pod and engage in a podcast or song. I can do that when I am alone. I miss questions like, "Why are the leaves on the tree brown instead of green?" I miss the hoops and hollars of two brothers racing down the street on bikes.
On the homefront, multi-tasking tends to make mistakes. Recipes gone bad due to a missing ingredient. Boiled-over jam. A hose left on. A boy in the shower way too long.
I am paraphrasing from the book, "A Thousands Gifts". What often comes to mind is a paragraph Ann Voskamp had on hurrying. She said that being in a hurry empties the soul. Nothing good ever came from being in a hurry. When I am in a hurry, my kids are in a hurry. Hurry causes stress.
For me, a by-product of multi-tasking is being in a hurry to do one more quick thing. I'm learning the value of sitting and making no plans. The blank "to do" list is a beautiful thing, like a clean slate or a freshly-washed load of laundry. It is an invitation to live un-hurried and just enjoy this moment! Living life fully-engaged and realizing there is time to do everything God has on my plate for today. Jesus was never in a hurry, right? He constantly did the next right "thing", not the next right "things".
I'll continue practicing this new, foreign-language. It won't be perfect or without the need for interpretation. My vocabulary will continue to expand as I explore this thing called single-tasking. Perhaps I will accomplish more by doing less.....or accomplish more of what is truly important anyway.
Time for breakfast with Oldest, Middleson, and Babyboy. I'll notice the "everything" on my bagel --- poppyseeds, onion flakes, sesame seeds, and fluffy cream cheese. I'll note the spikey- hair on three bed-headed boys. We'll take our time and talk about what we want to do today. We might share a joke or two. I'm going to laugh at the answer because its funny and I really heard the answer. I was listening. Yes, I like this single-tasking stuff.