8/29/08

Out of Focus

There's a mother in me. She's one part of me. Sometimes I think she's the only one in there. The wife up and left, taking the dog with her. The daughter and sister are too busy to lend support to their family. The friend is distracted, forgetting birthdays and how to return a phone call. The writer and dreamer, they're taking naps.

Other days I hit a groove and roll all of me into one. But I find it's nearly impossible. I'm not very adept at being more than one thing at once. I get very focused, unable to flow from one thing to the next. If I'm writing, I can't handle any kind of distractions, even though they're ever-present, so I become terribly impatient. If I'm trying to clean or do laundry, I get upset with my husband for not reading my mind and taking over childcare. If I'm cooking dinner and the dog needs to go out, I ignore her for as long as I can, making sure not to lose concentration and totally mess up the recipe. If my husband needs quality time with me and I'm over-thinking the latest child-raising issue, I cannot be fully present. This is one of the reasons I give so much credit to working moms. I've done it and the shifting is hard work (not to mention having to get dressed first thing in the morning).

I can multi-task a million different little things a day. But the bigger things, the different Heathers, they must wait in line and take their turns. It's like I'm at the DMV and all the different Heather roles are getting their number called frantically, line bustling, different parts of me waiting impatiently to hear "NEXT!":

"Next up, Wife Heather!!! NEXT! Get over here and sit by your husband, but only for a moment, you need a shower....(thirty seconds passes and a shrill alarm sounds)...NEXT!!! Daughter Heather, you're dad is on the phone, try to focus now, Mother Heather is up next, there's a poopy diaper in the air! It can wait, but make this chat snappy, no one needs a diaper rash around here!!!....(one minute passes and the shrill alarm sounds)...NEXT!!! Okay, Mother Heather you're up, get moving, change that diaper like you're in a race cause everyone's hungry and your house is a mess!...(thirty seconds passes-yes I can change the poop in thirty seconds, don't doubt my abilities-and another alarm)...NEXT!!! Where's that Heather that cares about the world around her? Where'd she go? Whoa, would you check out this list:

A plane crash? A hurricane? An election? Sex trafficking in every country? Poverty? An AIDS crisis?...

NEXT!
(long pause) There she is! Hey! You over there, sleeping! Wake up! What's your name again? Uh.... Heather something or other. Well, whatever your name is, where have you been? I hardly even recognize you! Maybe you should stick around for awhile and we'll take a break from all the bells and whistles. The other stuff can wait awhile."

Some days I'm just struck with the realization that while I've been so focused on myself and all the demands, I've completely forgotten what really matters. I've worried about laundry, catching up on cleaning, and if I've offended anyone with my scattered and forgetful brain. I've thought all day long about how to do things better in my own life, with my own family, and in my own house. Yet turning my attention to the hurting world around me would be just what my life and family needs. Doing so simply breathes life into me, and therefore breathes life into my home, and the lives of those in it.

How often I forget, but how badly I desire to remember. Life's demands do make it hard, but I don't have to get overwhelmed by it. After all, it's not always about doing something huge. Most of the time, it's as Mother Theresa said, "we can do no great things, only small things with great love."

My next post will be all about ideas on how to do just that. Small things that make more of a difference than we realize. And if you have suggestions, things you or your family do to "make a difference," I would love to hear them! This is in no way meant to be preachy, I simply think out loud here on the ol' blog, and I really love thinking with all of you.

15 clicked right here to comment:

Becky said...

I was thinking about this just this morning! My mom side seems to cruise right on by the wife side of me. I have to remember that when my husband comes home, he's not just another kid for me to take care of; he's my help meet. It's hard to remember to separate the roles, sometimes...

Jo Beaufoix said...

Wow fantastic. I struggle to be all the different Jo's too. They're all important and some of them get a bit squashed at times.

fiveflowers said...

I find that being creative is what keeps me from creeping into the mom only mode. It reminds me of my pre-kid life, and helps me plan for projects and ideas to follow up on when the kids get a little bigger! Great post!

Melanie J said...

I completely relate to this. I've been pondering this more than usual, lately. I think I'm a little more self-absorbed than most people, though. I tend to get my stuff done more than anyone else's. I'm trying to figure out how to improve that and still keep my sanity.

I wish I had some ideas to contribute to small things that make a difference. My son is really into protecting the environment so we do our best to recycle at home. Then he gets to keep the money for whatever he wants, so it's kind of nice that way, too. Several times he's given it away to kids at school who have a sob story, but we live in an affluent area, so we're trying to walk that line very carefully. The last time he did it, his teacher called me and said, "Your son gave $20 to the girl who sits next to him but he won't tell me why."

When I asked him why after school he said, "She smiled at me."

Sigh.

Minnesota Matron said...

Here's what I've learned 12 years into the mama thing. Balance gets you nowhere. Sometimes you're 1000% mother, sometimes 10% because you need to be a full-time friend, worker or wife. Throw yourself into the moment (with love, you're right) and that's the best you can hope for!

PsychMamma said...

I definitely know what you're talking about with the many roles pulling and complicating things. I also just had the experience of learning that something that I did without really thinking much about it years ago, was more appreciated and remembered than I ever knew. Planning on blogging about it soon. I think your idea about a post about the small things that make a difference will be a great reminder for all of us.

Abra said...

Nothing reminds me more so of how much we contribute as mothers, partners, and individuals as this poem by Barbra Saunders.

A Tribute to Mothers

What A Mother Is

A Mother's job is to watch over, nourish, and protect maternally. This job starts the day she finds she's conceived; just a built-in mechanism from the Lord!

Mother is the chief night watchman: her ear is fine-tuned (maybe God-given?) to hear the slightest turn of a baby in the bed, a light whimper, and immediately she's out of that bed, and straight to the baby's crib!

Mother is the Doctor and Nurse, all rolled into one. If it's a fever, a crying baby that won't be quieted, a cut, a broken tooth - doesn't matter. She knows how to fix it! A Mother needs only kiss the 'bad boo-boo' and the child instantly is calmed of all fears. After all, Mother knows best!

She is the chief diaper-changer: Surely a wet diaper, or, heaven forbid - one with poop! - stay on that baby more than a few minutes! That's the Mother-protectant clicking - (another God-given talent?).

She's the taxi, bus driver, chauffeur - whatever it takes to get the child whereever they need to go. Can she not just be Mom? No way!

She's the time keeper. After all, children don't watch the clock; they listen to Mom. She knows when the bus runs for school, the time for practice for the games, the piano lesson, the school play. Whatever has a time attached, be assured that Mother has the TIME written down in her time-clock, the head! If not, she surely has a paper attached to her refrigerator, the bathroom mirror, her purse, the car steering wheel, or some place she's bound to see it, or be able to find in case of a lapse in memory!

She's the chief cook and bottle washer. This lasts right up until they leave home. In fact, with some it never ends!! She is dear ole' Dependable Mom!

She's a counselor for the teens. She listens to all the problems, and then tries to solve them her way. Only problem with that is, teens usually know more than the COUNSELOR.

She's also the CONSOLER. She listens while they tell her that 'nobody loves me', 'my boyfriend dumped me', and, 'my fiancee loves someone else'. It goes beyond child and early adulthood, right into marriage with, 'the baby doesn't sleep at night', 'the kids are killing me'. Mother is such a great consoler in this area, why? She's been there, done that!

She's the referee in every dispute. She's the cheer person during the ball games. You can expect her on her feet protesting when her child is tripped at a soccer game, and the referee just doesn't catch it in time.

She is the light at the end of the tunnel, in the wake of a storm!! She is MOM!

Although overworked and underpaid, Mother doesn't complain. She would work her fingers to the bone for her children. She'd come to their rescue, no matter what the cause. These are, after all, her God-given 'talents' to take and use for the glory of God. HE expects Mother to raise and nuture her 'charges' to become the best they can be in this world, and equip them for what is needed to get to the other side!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

This is beautifully written and so stinkin' true.

Do you remember that Amy Grant song about hats? It fits this idea. Some days, it feels like there isn't enough of me to go around.

The Three 22nds said...

Thanks for the post! Glad to know I am not alone. I think one of the coolest things about being a mom is being able to teach our children that it is not all about them all the time. Sometimes it is about daddy. Sometimes it is about mommy. Sometimes it is about a neighbor, a friend, a stranger, a brother...

I'm looking forward to your next post!

Peanut said...

Um, are you me?

MoziEsmé said...

I love these thoughts of yours. There is so much to do and it is so easy to get sidetracked - I need to constantly remember what IS really important.

charrette said...

Fabulous post, Heather! (I left a longer comment over on the Mama Manifesto.)

Jenny said...

Girl, you are awesome at telling it like it is. And, you just wrote a play by play of my day! Love it!

So when are we doing a blog-o-liscious Twin cities get together? Shall I plan it??? :)

These types of posts make me want to know my bloggy friends better - cause I know I can be myself around someone who is this honest about their scatterbrains :)

Thanks for that.

Elle said...

Perfect post, Heather. Honestly. And i love the new look of the blog, too. You are a treasure.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Such a great revelation/observation... I can relate soooooo much!

Steph

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