Being a working parent is hard. Being a working but not working parent of three is really hard, at least sometimes. Wrapped up with the coordinating work schedules with school schedules is spending real time with each child, and wrapped up with all of that is focusing enough on yourself to get from not working to working. When you are meeting a bus, it feels as though you should be sending a resume. When you are planning a birthday party, it feels as though you should be planning your approach to a new company. The result, in general, is that you can have singular focus for only brief times, hopefully long enough times to accomplish something. The by-product, in general, is that you feel guilty much of the time, either for doing too little of the right things, or for doing too much of the wrong ones.
Over the last few weeks, although I have certainly struggled to balance
the various tasks, and have realized that "accomplished multitasker"
should probably go on my resume, I have also had some moments, even
hours, when I had singular focus. Whether it was a several-hour stretch
focusing on the needs of one child, or an hour when I thought about
nothing but an email about one particular job, I have been reminded that
it is actually possible to have singular focus in a multitasking world.
Sometimes, that means a phone that doesn't emerge from my pocket for an
hour. Sometimes it is the result of a time limit or an undeniable need.
However it comes about, it tends to end with a feeling of satisfaction
that is hard to match with multitasking. When we spend a little time
with singular focus, we come out with renewed dedication to a person or a
cause. When we exercise our singular focus, we realize that we don't
have to respond to the insanity of our lives every moment. It's all
still there when we emerge from our singular focus. We are just able to
approach it in a different way, having come from the satisfaction of
I suspect that most of my days will be the multitasking kind. Life just
seems to demand that. But if I can include moments now and then for
single tasking, I imagine that both the working and the parenting and
the overall satisfaction will be a whole lot easier to manage.