Mothers. The ultimate multitaskers.
We walk around each day carrying the mental load of motherhood… and with a load of laundry in our tired arms. Ask any mother, and she can provide you with a long list of titles she adorns. Household CEO. Chef. Chauffeur. Tutor. Nurse. Coach. Housekeeper. Therapist. Probably none of which are any of her actual job titles. Women are amazing creatures. We can do it all, and we will. Often when we’re over-tired, emotionally drained, and refusing help.
For me, the problem with the “I can do it all” mentality is that I literally do it all. At the same time. I’ve worked hard to master my mothering craft for over six years. Three kids, a minivan, and ten thousand tantrums later… I feel a sense of pride when I’m balancing ten plates at once. But at what cost?
When baby #3 entered the picture, my heart grew another size and my life’s chaos level tripled. Balancing my want to do, should do, and have to do became a complete joke. I was in constant survival mode. I spent my days on the floor with my kids (and my pump) and that’s about all that got done. But in that phase of raw survival, I was peaceful. I didn’t feel the dishes calling my name. We wore shirts with yesterday’s juice spilled on them. Emails went unread. It was simple and messy. There was quiet hidden in that chaos.
As the first year of our baby’s life has flown by, I find myself right back in the saddle. Plates spinning. Multi-tasking every which way. Some days it feels flawless and I high-five myself in triumph. Some days. But so many times, I fall into the multitasking trap. I decide I can get dinner going and empty the dishwasher while battling my curios toddler as he grabs for the silverware. I try to keep up with the group chat as I suddenly find myself sprinting, phone in hand, to help with a paint spill. I shower during my lunch hour as I listen to the training call I missed last week.
On these days, my head hurts. My temper runs short. I yell more and I feel my body stiffen. I crave absolute silence and stillness.
Single-tasking feels so odd to me. I have to make a conscious effort to do it. It requires me to accept the reality of what’s getting done and what’s not. It forces me to turn off the part of my brain that constantly reprioritizes what I’ll do next. It almost feels indulgent.
For me, it’s a work in progress. I find that if I take a moment in the morning to set that intention for myself, I carry it with me through the chaos of the day. There’s so much peace to be had when you decide to just sit in one task, rather than three. But it’s a slippery slope, being a mom. We can do it ALL, but should we?