Multitasking

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Ella recently made up some lyrics to the tune of that old “this is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands” song. Her alternate words go something like this:

“This is the way I do everything,
Do everything,
Do everything.
This is the way I do everything,
With octopus arms.”

She told me it’s a song about having eight arms like an octopus so you can do everything yourself all at one time. I don’t know why this is something she aspires to, really, except that she sees me pretending I have octopus arms every day.

There was a point tonight when I was frosting some sugar cookies. I was using my hands for that task, but that’s about it. The rest of me was split in about 100 different directions.

Smelling to make sure the onions weren’t burning.

Listening for the sound of the butter I was browning, to make sure the bubbling hadn’t stopped yet.

Breathing slowly through yet another Braxton Hicks contraction, accompanied by enthusiastic movement from my little hitch hiker.

And thinking about what I’d write about tonight (surprise: it was multitasking).

The fact that our brains are even capable of following this many paths at once is a miracle.

I’m not naturally a multitasker- or at least, I wasn’t until I became a mom. My tendency is to go way down a rabbit hole on one task or idea with complete tunnel vision.

But having a baby rewired my brain. I could no longer stick with just one thread, I had to somehow be weaving a whole blanket, all the time. It took some major organizational changes for me to relearn how to balance competing tasks and priorities, but I did it.

And now I’m firing along a million synapses at once most of the time.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I got a hilarious amount of cooking done today for a party we’re having tomorrow. And the fact that I’m not laser focused on one thing hasn’t, so far, detracted from the 201 things I’m dividing my attention between.

But I also know that my brain needs a bit of a break. This weekend and the week ahead – with Thanksgiving and family plans and a fall open house to show off our new home, doctors appointments for me and Ella, yoga after missing it all week last week, a breastfeeding class, and lists upon lists of chores to attend to, needs to be the last hurrah for frantic-energy Danielle. But come December 1, all bets are off.

It’s going to be hard to fight the Christmas frenzy, but I’m hoping to very intentionally use December to slow down. There could be as little as a few weeks or as much as a month and a half left for us as a family of three. I want to make sure we savor it, and I’m going to try to remember that holding on to this precious, fleeting moment in our family’s life doesn’t mean filling it with frenetic activity.

Ella got a fat lip during bedtime tonight. I had set her up on the toilet while I went to get her bed stuff settled in her room, which involved not only making her bed, but also gathering her entourage of stuffed animals, throwing laundry into the basket, and clearing the floor of any debris that might be an obstacle in the middle of the night. I was frantically throwing toys into a bin when I heard a sudden thunk, followed by a wail.

Ella had bonked her lip on the tub while trying to get off the potty head first.

(Side note: all kids do this, right? Tell me we are not the only ones whose child tries to make dismounting from the toilet a daredevil stunt…)

Blood everywhere. Screaming kiddo. Concerned cats underfoot.

I barked a few instructions to my husband (ice pack, wet paper towel, stuffed bunny for snuggling). And then all multitasking stopped, so I could hold my daughter and tell her it would be all right.

Thank you, God, for our supercomputer brains that can juggle so much at once. Thank you for occasional reminders that they don’t always need to. And thank you helping me find a new pace as the days – and the wait for this baby – get shorter, even as my to do list gets longer.

Tell me what you think!