Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Multi-tasking to One-track Mind by Ruth Smith Meyer

Motherhood, for me, was a crash course to acclimatize me to that state in which many of us operate—multi-tasking. Our first two babies, only fourteen months apart assured that I learned fast.  With the birth of our third three years later, I heard the truth of my mom’s quote, “With one you pick up and run, with two you make do, with three you stay where you be,” but I tried to ignore it and still find a way to do everything I thought I should do.

               As the years progressed I learned to juggle house work, child care, gardening, home canning, baking, cooking sewing, committee work, home and school involvements, volunteering.  As the children passed to pre-teen and teen years, I added driving to and from extra-curricular activities, youth activities, concerts and much more. Then the children entered university and adult years.  The nest began to empty, but I was on a roll. 

As school and youth involvements for my children slowed down, I began to take evening courses to enhance my own education and learning since I hadn’t been allowed to go as far in school as I would have liked.   To gather experience, I volunteered in church and wider church activities, in a kindergarten classroom and committees, juggling that with my home-maker and mothering roles all the while, multi-tasking through busy days and weeks.   A part-time job came along and I added that to the mix, cutting out very little else. When I broke my leg and ended up in a cast for five months, it felt as though that was the only way God could get through to me the idea that things could continue without me and that maybe, just  maybe, I should slow down a bit.  Even while in cast, I filled my moments writing letters, doing crafts and drawing that I normally wouldn’t have taken time to do.

 By and by, I helped establish and run a Senior’s Day Program.  My multi-tasking continued, but in more focused form as I planned a varied program for the seniors and began a regular column in several local newspapers. My job, by its very nature, still required a lot of multi-tasking.

When that job ended, I began a writing career.  For a few years, especially in the transition from married woman to widow, writing became my central focus. Although I still maintained a few other involvements, they were scheduled to accommodate my regular time for writing. Gradually though, a life-time habit crept in. Soon I was once more busy with committees, volunteering and a host of other undertakings. A new marriage once more added the role of spouse to my agenda.  That was and is a joy, but it changed the balance of my days somewhat.

A few months ago when my husband was diagnosed with tumors in his spine, our lives began to spin around the possibilities that condition may impose on us.  When he entered hospital for surgery and an expected 3-5 day stay which was extended to 17 days because of complications, the centrifugal force spun many of my activities to the outer edges.  My mind went into a one-track mode aimed at supporting my beloved, encouraging and advocating for him, doing everything in my power to get him well. 

I found that much of the help promised to me while they tried to get us out of the hospital, turned out to be training me to do it myself.  Wound care and giving needles were not in my training background, but became part of my routine.  An emergency trip back to hospital when he developed blood clots in his lung, also kept steering my focus on that same track.  I accompany my dear wise one to his daily radiation treatments, although thankfully we have dear friends who offered to do the driving.  

It has been quite a change from my usual multi-tasking.  It’s been another learning experience.  I’ve learned again, that the committees on which I serve can indeed go on if I miss a few meetings. I’ve learned that although I’ve missed some seminars, concerts and grandchildren’s activities, I’ve been able to affirm them and they’ve learned to understand the needs of others sometimes take priority.  I’ve learned that certain things I thought were important are less so when a greater need is present.   I’ve learned to pray on the run for those on my prayer list that I want to continue to remember and I’m sure God hears and understands just as well.   I’ve learned to accommodate our special meal requirements by careful planning.  I’ve also learned that writing is as important to me as those meals, so I squeeze in a few minutes at my computer putting into words thoughts, my feelings, my insights and my prayers. 

         So I thank God for the wider view, but I thank Him also for the well-defined focus.   I learn much from both!

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Ruth your experiences, while coming from the perspective of wife and mother and reflecting your inclination towards multitasking and wide engagement, speak to me.
Thank you for sharing them.
I appreciate your summarizing thought: "So I thank God for the wider view, but I thank Him also for the well-defined focus. I learn much from both!"
That contains much wisdom. I'm not there yet (sigh), but hope remains ... :)

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