I still think my favorite quote from the TV show Bones was from an interview the title character gave on daytime television.
Interviewer (paraphrased): How do you balance your two careers as world-renown forensic anthropologist and best-selling author?
Brennen: I do one, and then, the other.
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With the least provocation my mind can leap nearly anywhere, and in the last month I’ve been trying more and more to consciously single-task.
That is, for a while I thought even if I couldn’t do multiple things at the same time, I could be really coordinated and mathematical, overlapping things in a way that would allow for multiple finishes falling out after multiple beginnings. But I learned even that is still beyond my skill-level.
I’m trying to decide if I’m okay with Brennen’s technique (that is, I know I’m not, but I’m wondering if I should be).
There are two things I’m currently learning about single tasking.
- To stay focused on what I’ve started, and not get anxious about what’s not happening when my mind jumps there (I still haven’t ordered ballet stuff or pictures, but I am not going to let this food go to waste).
- Figure out where to put that collection of littles so they get done (I need to order ballet stuff, so it’ll be here by next class, even though we won’t have it tomorrow).
~ ~ ~
On Wednesday, yesterday, I got more done on a to-do list than maybe I ever have since the beginning of creating to-do lists.
I read to my kids, too, and broke up bickerings and soothed bruised feelings, but I was really focused on the to-do list, and had to wonder if that’s why siblings were so efficient at bruising (albeit not physically) one another.
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On Tuesday, the day before, I had one of those “ultimate” homeschooling moments that went on for at least an hour.
We had a long drive to make, and (thankfully) my children travel well. The car is a sort of way I get my physical/mental “space” in the day (children are in their places, I’m in mine; they usually entertain themselves and I can zone out in my own thoughts or with the music).
On our way out of town we passed a long line of cars with Joe Miller signs, spurring questions and I began to talk about elections. I tried to say he was running for Senate, but my 4-, 6-, & 7-year-olds didn’t know what Senate meant.
In the last year I’ve been through the whole DVD series of The Truth Project where the lecturer in one episode pointed out the three branches of government came out of Isaiah. So, starting with that verse I began an extemporaneous description about the three branches of government that lasted something like an hour.
It began with political signs and culminated in a touch on the Civil Rights Movement and a character portrait of Ruby Bridges, the 6-year-old black girl who represented the integration of education.
Now, granted, the children were a captive audience, but the amazing thing was that I kept getting distracted (oops, we missed our turn-off) and every time I’d stop talking one of the girls would beg (just like they do when I’m telling a story), “Keep telling us about the Three Branches of Government, Mom!”
When I got to the part about President Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation (We’ve been reading a lot of slave escape stories) the back seat erupted in cheers. And I was sad to tell them it didn’t mean anything till the end of the war, and even then it took about another 100 years before Ruby Bridges, a little 6-year-old (“Just your age, Melody!”) was allowed to go to the same schools as white children.
“But that’s not kind, Mama!”
Oh I am thankful for my children’s tender hearts.
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If I’m allowed to look at my days as a whole, I know I am doing everything, and getting better at doing it well. But looking at my children’s needs, I know I need to do differently.
At some point I hope to learn how to multi-task well enough to give that kind of talk while I’m making “fabulous progress” on my to-do lists.