Choking back sobs as I watched, I became acutely aware of the daily circus-juggling act always on rotation in my world. I can be preparing breakfast, washing clothes, packing lunches, feeding my son, checking emails all at the one time. And just like juggling, inevitably a ball gets dropped. There for the grace of God go I – or you… Any one of we multi-tasking Mums could accidentally make a fatal mistake because we cram far too much into our already overcrowded lives.
As near back as Tuesday night I was feeling completely overwhelmed by my world. It was creeping close to the 12hr mark since The Husband had bid us farewell earlier that day; I was trying to cook our dinner, feed Harrison his (because for some reason it is the ONLY way he will actually eat, if I stand and spoon feed every single morsel into his open mouth), I was trying to pack his bag for day-care the next day, ready my own requirements for an early start at work, and also catch up on the Everest pile of ironing that was manifesting into a mountain range the longer it was left untouched. I’d spent the day not only doing the usual taking care of my child routine but as well trying to find a handyman to fix a leaking tap, getting groceries and running errands, cleaning bathrooms, tidying the house, washing, folding, cleaning the kitchen… you get the mundane picture I’m painting right? And by 6.15pm when I was trying to get at least one item ironed so the husband didn’t think I had been purposefully neglecting it, and my son was clamouring for my undivided attention, it was all could do to remember to actually breathe. I was spent.
I’m vague far too often for my liking; if I’m not thinking I’ve forgotten my mobile phone I’m “losing” my car keys, only to find them a frantic half hour later dangling from the bottom corner of my trolley. I am constantly walking around wondering what it is I have forgotten to do and never quite make it safely away from my car before I head back to check one last time I have indeed remembered to lock it and put the park break on.
Being the type of person who always has a “to-do” list on the go doesn’t help either. Since becoming a mother, I inevitably fail to achieve all I expect to in a day. Sure, in an ideal world I’d have a flotilla of hired help on hand to make for smooth sailing in our lives, but if you are dealing with work, children, and the domesticity of household chores, not to mention trying to be the perfect wife/mother/sister/daughter/friend/employee (some times all in unison), you do feel as if you fall into bed at night feeling a little bit of a failure for leaving the dirty dishes in the sink, or forgoing the ironing for a cuddle on the lounge with your husband.
Then there is the whole multi-tasking “myth”… Acknowledging that there is no such thing will be tricky, as I used to consider myself the Queen of this, pre-parenthood; but truthfully you are not tackling many tasks at once, you are switching between each one and failing to finish them and each time you do that, a little bit more of your full focus and attention is being eroded away. Yes, it may equate to eating dinner a little later (we did, because I suddenly refused to run Harrison’s bath and peel vegetables all at the same time) but the sense of calm, and focus, if you can achieve it, makes the wait worthwhile.
Admittedly, it’s not just the mums out there who face this overwhelming state of mind. The Husband, who is working so hard to provide for us and make up for the lack of income I earn, is even guilty of “vague-ing out” because of the pressures piled on his plate. Just the other week he went to work wearing mis-matched brown shoes, and failed to notice until lunchtime. Again, one of those casualties of constantly racing the clock each day.
For some ignorance is bliss, yet I struggle to overlook all that needs to be done, which then translates into a difficulty to relax. But this harrowing episode of Oprah has taught me what I must attempt is to train my brain to be more present in the moment and slow the hell down! Instead of constantly living in the past or propelling myself into the future (both sadly regular occurrences in my state of mind) I declare to try my damndest to focus on the here and now and undertake my responsibilities one at a time .
Finally, I should point out this is not some futile attempt to elicit any sympathy. Some will surely say, get over yourself – what you have described is quite simply LIFE so deal with it and do what you have to, to get by. And I agree, there are times it will be impossible to adhere to these mantras I’ve discovered and it will take a lot of practice on my part to stick to this new path. But somewhere along the line parenthood became a sort of overwhelming, high powered profession where excellence was expected at every turn. We need to restore balance, we need to remember to breathe. Our loved ones, not to mention ourselves, are worthy of that.