I've long heard that women are better at multitasking than men, yet I seem to be cursed with tunnel vision. I am, and always have been, an all-in or all-out girl. My mother loves to recount a race when I was in the third grade. Once I realized that I was going to come in 'second', I abruptly stopped a few feet from the finish line and let everyone pass me. If I couldn't win, why bother?
In middle school I would assign myself papers on topics that captivated me (the role of women in Arthurian Legend, the political implications of The Beatles), and completely ignore my actual assignments. I still get slightly queasy recalling the journal I was supposed to keep in 8th grade English, chronicling the 'Guest Host' in each chapter of the Odyssey... I let it slide all term, until I was thoroughly screwed and had to report to the principal (and beg my mom for help).
If I set my mind to something and I am determined, I can accomplish almost anything. But I have never felt as though I had any control over what it is my mind gets sets to... inspiration strikes at random, and my focus is so intense that everything else gets pushed to the margins.
Having children has been the most profound antidote to my one-track brain. No matter what pulls at me, the needs of my kids always stay at the forefront. During my first year as a mother, it felt absolutely natural, because what compelled me was motherhood, almost singularly. I consumed studies, philosophies, products, activities, and it was a very satisfying pursuit.
As the years have passed since giving birth to my son, my interests have opened up again, and I find myself driven by various causes, projects, jobs, and topics. In essence, I am still that obsessively focused girl that I was before motherhood, but now that my children take up a huge piece of my available brain and time, there is little left over to parcel out among my passions and commitments. It sucks!
If I have four things to do, I am physically incapable of giving twenty-five percent to each... my only option is to dedicate a hundred percent to the first item and then desperately race to give another hundred percent to the second, only to fail. So stuff just doesn't get done, especially mundane stuff that doesn't hold my interest (like house and paperwork). And as my gray hairs and dark circles multiply, James is always quick to point out that my own well-being generally ranks low on the list.
This is a long way of saying that I am falling short; here, there, and everywhere. In the space of each day, I am happy and fulfilled and frustrated and defeated. I don't know, maybe I will work it all out over a long nap once the holidays have blown through... until then, I'll just put one foot in front of the other.