As we were checking out at a store recently, I handed the lady cashier a gift card at the same time a fellow cashier asked her a question. She bobbled around a bit and said, “Sorry, I’m not a good multi-tasker.”
“You must not be a mom,” I responded, knowing full well she wasn’t because there isn’t a mother around who could survive without being a multi-tasker. This becomes evident to me every time I attempt to do something because it never fails that the instant my brain even tries to focus on one thing, there is someone asking me something else. (While writing this paragraph, my daughter has asked me three times whether or not she will need to wear tennis shoes in the next few days because she needs to know if she will need socks. This apparently is so much more important than this part-time job of mine that my train of thought should be completely derailed.)
The older our children get, the more difficult the interruptions are. And by more difficult, I mean they require higher-level thinking than when they were younger. Interrupted to change a diaper? Fetch a snack? Pull a toddler off a chandelier? Those were the good old days. Because now their interruptions carry a lot more weight. No chandeliers involved, thankfully.
I speak mostly of the homework interruption. Because for some unknown reason, the kids still haven’t learned to be totally disgusted by their mother and they tend to sit directly at the kitchen counter with me while I’m making dinner or cleaning up or trying to find something to do that involves not having to do the laundry. With my brain neurons firmly directed at tripling a recipe for these hefty eaters, someone will shout out what have become some of my least favorite words: Mom, can you help me with this question?
I admit that I loved school, and even that I loved math and science more than the average gal. And for the most part, I was pretty good at it. But while multiplying ¾ teaspoon by three and answering questions about footwear, I simply cannot jump in and help them with some of their homework anymore. As much as they (read: I) say that every bit of math is important, I have not retained how to divide scientific notation from my seventh grade days, which feel like 4.65 x 107 years ago. I also don't remember proofreading marks or abstract vocabulary words, and seeing as I never took Spanish or learned the new funky elementary school math, I’m totally no bueno there.
And I especially can’t do it while I’m thinking about something else. Not that that will ever stop them from asking me, and not that I wouldn’t miss it if they did. Multi-tasking moms somehow shake the dust off the ol’ noggin and just keep going.
Yes, with tennis shoes.
Originally written 9.6.15