Tuesday, February 23, 2010

words from the big mama

Like any mother, I am a master of the multi task.


I can almost always be doing at least two things at once and because I have this insatiable desire to feel like I'm being productive my mind is swirling with things like, "While I'm washing my hair I could also probably be washing the shower. And at least mentally writing thank you notes so when I get out and try my hair - while blowing dust out of the closet track - I'll be 50% done and just need to put the words on paper."

Compare this to Charlie...

According to my husband, when he takes a shower, he thinks about washing his hair. And then when all the shampoo is out, he thinks about shaving. And then, he thinks about turning off the water. Getting out. Closing the door. Hanging up his towel. Getting dressed. Brushing his teeth. And then, once his socks are snugly on his feet, he thinks about what shoes will he will wear.

In that same span of time, I've already processed not only what I'll be wearing but what clothing and footwear our entire family will require for the next YEAR.

When I take the kids to the park, I'm jogging while they ride their bikes, then I'm photographing them as they spin around on the merry-go-'round because I have a lifetime of childhood memories to capture and a blog to update and if my phone rings and I see that it is our emergency response line, I must answer it because chances are someone drove off with a gas nozzle in their car, ripping it clean off the dispenser, and I need to make sure it doesn't require a rapid environmental response. Which I might then need to coordinate, while pushing children on the swings and eating a Power Bar (aka: my lunch).


My mind and body are always busy.

But these days, I'm trying really hard to NOT always be so busy. I'm trying NOT to be so distracted by the millions of little things that are happening all around me, the chatter on my radar, and instead, be focused on the one task that I have at hand.

After attending a safety conference last week, I watched a short film about someone who was so busy multi tasking that they actually cost someone their life, while severely limiting their own.

It was the story of a man who was working on some scaffolding when his cell phone rang. He got distracted and answered the call and then, he because he was pulled in to the conversation he forgot that he had just loosened a guardrail and leaned against it while holding a large plank of wood. The guardrail gave way and he plummeted 20 feet to the ground, breaking his back and paralyzing himself from the waist down. Meanwhile, the board that he had been holding flew out of his hands and hit a woman who was jogging on a nearby running path.

The unfortunate victim was the mother of two small children and the film ended as the children were walking in to the cemetery - holding their father's hands - and carrying bouquets of flowers for their mommy's grave.

Wow, I didn't see that end coming at all. So in a room full of 200 contractors, it was me audibly crying. Sobbing. Sucking wind. Drawing attention from the other tables while I was frantically digging in my bag for a tissue.

I could so EASILY see how that could happen in the blink of an eye. You don't think it will happen to you and then it does. You're talking on the phone and a toddler pulls a pot of boiling spaghetti sauce on his head. You answer a call on your cell while you're driving and you don't even notice that the car in front of you has on it's blinker and is starting to merge. You get flung in to space as you cross the street by someone who is obliviously text messaging.

Anyway. I'm trying to focus more on doing one thing at a time and not be distracted by those superficial things that always seem to pop up and pull my attention away. Each day, I'm giving myself a period of time to get tasks completed before I move on to anything else and I won't start something else until I finish what I've started.


Because honestly, I'm so tired of looking around the house and wondering why it is that I'm working ALL the time, but nothing ever seems to be done? It's also the reason I'm considering disconnecting the phone because I cannot stand talking on it. You wanna talk to me? Come visit. Because while you're here you can at least help me watch the four little people who are running around while we try to converse.


Today, I collected all the clothes and actually STARTED a load of laundry and I didn't stop to make the beds in each room while picking up clothes nor did I take out the trash and rearrange a sock drawer and clean out the back of the van before I merely added a cup of soap to the wash.

Unreal, one load of laundry washed.

(Hopefully, I'll focus on drying it tomorrow and folding it by Wednesday.)


Now I think the thing that troubles me the most about the incident at church with Henry is that I should have been there the first week that I heard there was a problem. Granted, Charlie did go and sit in with him twice - but I didn't because I was too distracted and busy taking notes on the Marriage Series. Which is very important, but not more important than what's happening with my little boy. (Hmm. That feels a lot like Catholic guilt.)


I've worked in church nurseries before and to be perfectly honest, the building would need to be on FIRE before I called the parents. Absolutely, positively inconsolable children notwithstanding, I'd take it upon myself to solve whatever problems popped up. When I was a teenager, I could manage a church nursery full of small children. Hence the reason God probably trusted me enough to send me a nursery of my very own.


(For the record, once I zoomed in and took this picture, I saw the lollipops, given to them by their instructor and I immediately confiscated them all. One because lollipops are bad for their teeth and they already had one that day at the hair dressers and Two because they shouldn't be running around with lollipops in their mouths. I'm just taking a pro-active stance here to ward off the comments that will undoubtedly roll in telling me to NOT let my children run around with lollipops. I actually considered blurring them out, but that was too obvious. Don't you think?)


It makes me physically sick to think that "my" child is causing a problem to someone else. Even though I think that he is two and by their very nature toddlers are challenging and the nursery workers should have handled it - it bothers me profusely that he was such a distraction that they felt like they couldn't.

It also bothers me that I never had these kind of behavioral issues with the triplets when they were two. Probably because they were always surrounded by children the same age as them and they just learned how to adapt. It makes me a little sad that Henry doesn't have a twin. Because I honestly think the child would be easier if there were two of him.

All this to say, because of the issues that we've been having with Henry, he has made his way to the top of my FOCUS list. Today, Charlie took the kids to karate, and I stayed at home with him and we made chocolate chip cookies and ate them and I was swept up in how adorable and precious he is and the people at the nursery are clearly whacked.


As we were sitting around the dinner table on Saturday night, I told the children that I'll be joining their little brother during his church class (which isn't so much of a class as a time to romp and play) for the next few weeks because I'm very concerned over his behavior and it's extremely important we get this resolved immediately. As such, I'll be counting on them to set a good example at home. They need to be kind and gentle and use nice hands and if I see anyone hitting their little brother or pushing him down, God Help Me, I'll string them up by their toes from the swing set.

(Of course I'm kidding. Right?)

The triplets are stunned in to gobsmacked silence. Henry has been kicked out of church FOUR times? Mommy will be missing church to sit with HIM? We go to church every week so this is obviously a very big DEAL. Slowly, they raise their eyebrows and look a bit worried.

And then William, a natural born comic if there ever was one, peers over the table at his baby brother and very seriously says, "Henry you better watch out. Big Mama is coming to TOWN."


And that really has nothing to do with anything except I'm still cracking up over it two days later.


  1. There was a case in Adelaide a few years back, Mum and baby on a walk. Phone rings, she answers while turning her back on pram. Pram rolls into river, baby dies, husband gets a divorce (wouldn't you) - only found it out because there was an article saying she had just had another baby (she's some athlete that the magazines like). I think she should have been put in jail.

    If not for work, I have sound off on mobile phone so I don't hear calls. It is for my convenience, not for someone else to decide when to interupt my day - after all, isn't that why God invented text messaging, so you can ask your dire question without interupting someone?

  2. I ALWAYS clean out my shower while I'm showering. Doesn't everyone? I also always mentally write thank you notes, emails, and blog posts while rocking the baby to sleep, making dinner, or dusting my furniture.

    It's actually hard for me to do 1 thing at a time. In some twisted way only doing 1 thing at a time feels like WASTING time to me.

    I need help. :o)

    Thanks for the safety wake-up -- I definitely need to focus on life, one piece at a time.

  3. My husband and I say ALL the time that our twins are soooo easy BECAUSE they are twins. We joke that our 2 1/2 year old singleton is more work than both of the twins were together. Triplets can be hard because there is always an odd man out, but you don't get that with twins. I was sooo scared of getting twins again my second time around and in hindsight I think it would actually be easier. Maybe then I wouldn't have an angelic looking 2 1/2 year old girl who is utterly convinced she is a 7 1/2 year old boy!!!

    And William's comment=hilarious!!!


  4. Multitasking in thoughts and in actions - SO TRUE! I enjoyed this blog post - it made me realize I'm not the only one who does this! ha ha

  5. When my middle child was nearing two, she was a biter. With me around or not, she bit complete strangers. Once at church with my mom (we are Catholic so she took them sometimes to their Sunday School), bit another child and drew blood, bit numerous playmates numerous times. And the worst, once we were at a play place, she bit a kid on the cheek. I had to hold her in my arms the rest of the time we were there. I do think though that the nursery staff should be able to distract and manage him. Hang in there!

  6. Hey - Henry is proving once again what I keep getting shoved in my face every time I turn around . . . . . we as parents can take very little credit for the actions (good or bad) of our children! To a large large extent - - ITS NATURE BABY!

    Yours - Jessica

  7. That's right Big Mama. You get in there and lay down the law. I cannot wait to hear how this turns out!

  8. LOL! I love this whole post. Seriously. I have had this EXACT same conversation with my husband about multi-tasking. It drives me to no end that the male psyche can't do it. I've jokingly told him that I need a wife more than a husband! Ha!

    As for Henry having a twin...could you really handle going through the weaning process on BOTH sets of those baby blues? I mean come on. You'd be a total pile of mush and we all know it. :-D

  9. That soccer ball is awesome! Oh, and I liked your post, too! LOL!

  10. This will be very interesting how you handle this one. My two cents is that every one laughs at the baby...just remember, they do grow up, and it is not cute when the surprise attack happens to another kid. You two are in for a contest.

  11. on second thought....change curches!

  12. Ah, Big Mama. That's one for the history books.

    Yes, I too feel that not multi-tasking is wasting time. I also feel that sleeping is a waste of time. I can intellectualize it up and down, but I am bowed with guilt for not doing more. (I'm not Catholic, but the husband and kids are. I also attended Catholic school in my early childhood - enough exposure for the guilt, not enough for any sense of redemption. Awesome.)

    My husband and I were recently wondering whether the whole "women multitask better" is really a matter hands-on parents being forced to multitask better. He's gotten much more multi-task-y since the kids were born. We were chatting on Skype last night, but his barracks roommate was on night duty, so the hubby was listening to me through headphones and typing back. He said it was easier to talk that way because he didn't have to think about what to say. I guess women DO multi-task better (or just more?); Charlie's a pretty hands-on parent!

  13. I do my best thinking in the shower. If I was a world leader I am pretty sure that I would be in the shower working out peace resolutions/ budget proposals. This morning I managed to mentally pack for a trip I am taking next week to Paris, work out what I would need to get ready for Joey was a friend of mine is taking care of him for me, re-write parts of my CV AND I cleaned the bath while rinsing off. Men really do waste alot of time by only concentrating on the task in hand! ;-)

    The only thing is that like you, I feel like my brain is permanently whirring and I never really get any "down" time. This can be completely exhausting at times so like you, I need to force myself to just so one thing at once.

  14. hmm. Perhaps its to much chocolate.? For the record - I think he's a peach! (It's the other kids!) Marg.

  15. I wanna no the name of the guy that soccer ball belings tooh. He must bee 60 feet tall! :O

    ~Cindy! :D