Wednesday, April 27, 2011

the one-armed multi-tasker

I've always been pretty good at multi-tasking.  I waitressed for 7 years through high school and most of college.  Working and going to school required effective time management.  Then I became a teacher.  You want to talk multi-tasking and effective time management?  If I didn't have those skills mastered beforehand, I would have never survived my first year.

It wasn't really until I became a mom that I truly understood the meaning of the word 'multi-tasking'.  With waitressing, I had the other servers or managers to help me out when things got a little busy.  With teaching, if I have something pertinent to attend to, I can always adjust my lesson plans as necessary (flexibility is a valuable lesson for students to learn early on!)...or, if things are really crazy, I can call in for a sub and attend to whatever I need to with the knowledge that my class is in good hands.  With mommyhood, sure, things can the laundry or the dusting.  But it's maintaining the balance of work, play, parenting, being an adult, spending time with your spouse, taking time for yourself, housekeeping, and treasuring every moment with your kids that is a tricky thing to master.

Raegan is a little over a week old and I've found myself experiencing a roller coaster of emotions in the time since I've met her.  I mentioned in a previous post about the guilt I felt as my tiny baby girl (unbeknownst to her) sat in her infant seat until I had organized a few things around the house when she came home from the hospital.  I know she is not 'keeping score' of how often she's held, or how many times I put her down to deal with other things.  But there's a tiny part of me that's keeping score for myself.  With Gavin, it was *easy*.  He didn't have any 'sibling competition'.  I could hold and cuddle, kiss and snuggle him to my heart's content. 

There were some challenges, however.  It was with Gavin that I learned how to be the one-armed multi-tasker.  Pouring cereal, emptying the dishwasher, or putting laundry into the machine required slight adjustments in their technique.  I tried the whole 'baby wearing' thing, to allow myself two free hands, plus the closeness of baby that I so desired.  And to be honest, it just wasn't for me.  The degenerated discs in my lower back weren't a huge fan of the way the carrier contorted them, I still felt 'pregnant', and was uncomfortable in the heat of summer.  Don't get me wrong, I applaud mommies who 'wear' their babies...and wish that I was able to be a little more open-minded about it.  I think I've convinced myself otherwise, and at this point, with three kids, I've mastered the one-armed technique well enough to meet my personal mommy needs. 

When Brynn was born, I had just 22 months separating the two.  I know many friends who have been in the same boat...quite a few with even less time separating their kids...and to be honest, I don't know how we did it!  Having more than one child who is essentially 'helpless' is enough to help pour a nice glass (or two) of pinot noir after a long and demanding day (speaking from experience, of course!)

Then, last summer, I had this radical idea to have another baby!  I remember Randy's hestitation on the idea, specifically because, as he put it, 'we'd be starting all over again'.  While Gav and B are nowhere near 'independent' (and what child ever really is?!), he views them as capable enough to be considered 'easy' compared to a baby.  And you know what, he's right.  They are 'easier' times.  Like right now.  They're playing together (nicely), and pretty much keeping out of trouble.  They can take care of basic things without much assistance, like the bathroom (obvisouly this refers more to Gavin, not so much Brynn!), getting their milk cups from the fridge, opening the snack cupboard and choosing wisely, dressing themselves (what attire they select is a whole different story), entertaining themselves, and cleaning up after themselves (when the mood strikes or an early bedtime is suggested!). 

But then there are moments like this very one I'm experiencing now.  Just in the short amount of time it took to write the previous paragraph, things went from a peaceful game of tag to two precious little faces staring at me, begging me for the ice cream they were promised earlier in the evening.  Obviously this is something that they're not capable of attaining on their own, and more obviously as their mom, I want to follow through on my promise.  The challenge?  Miss Raegan is currently snuggled up on my chest in the space between my chin and my laptop.  I know if I move she'll wake up, which isn't a huge dilemma, but I feel terrible in doing so.  Sure, she'll most likely fall right back asleep if I lay her down in her little baby seat, but after I'm done dipping ice cream I'll want her to cuddle with me again...and will inevitably feel guilty rousing her once again to fulfill my selfish desires.

So, what was my solution?  To rely on my one-armed multi-tasking abilities to see me through.  Dipping ice cream with an infant in tow requires a little bit of phanaglaing, along with the help of Gav and B...but I made it work, and my oldest two are currently enjoying a bedtime treat at the dining table while discussing the latest episode of Spongebob.  And my youngest?  She's resting comfortably in the space she occupied prior to our little disruption. 

I know, I probably sound crazy.  Why don't I just put Raegan down, attend to Gavin and Brynn, and then go back to Raegan?  She's little...she won't remember...she won't feel *abandoned*...all these things have run through my head.  Why don't I just ask Randy to get the kids their ice cream?  Well, currently, the Nuggets are playing to stay alive in the a few scoops of vanilla ice cream doesn't quite warrant 'emergency' enough to pull him away from the mancave.  I love him too much for that (this is part of my 'people pleasing/approval addiction'...but that's a whole other post!). 

Today I spent a lot of time thinking about how and why I've become this 'one-armed multi-tasker', as I've apparently coined myself.  And the reason?  It's totally cliche, but  Raegan is already more than a week old.  Gavin will be 5 (FIVE!!) in a little over two weeks.  My original *princess* is 3 going on 13.  And I'm going to be 30.  Thirty.  Randy was on the phone today and said something about an account he had that was opened eleven years ago.  That was the year 2000--eleven years ago.

You get the idea.  I'm having a bit of a hard time with time right now.  While I was taking photos of Raegan today with her giraffe blanket that I spent entirely too much money on at (thank you, Juliana for getting me hooked!) felt like it had been just a few months ago that I was snapping away as Brynn lay on her little pink and green striped blanket. 

So, while it might not sound practical to everyone, I've decided that treasuring every moment that I can with my sweet baby girl in my arms is the solution to my current *problem*.  I won't have these moments forever.  I'll have memories, I'll have pictures (lots and lots of pictures!).  But I won't have a tiny, precious little bundle to hold and cuddle, kiss and snuggle forever.  I pray that she'll grow up wanting to stay close to her mom, but I want to keep her like this for as long as I can.  While I can't change how fast the clock ticks, I can adjust the way in which I run my household so I can best accomodate not only my kids' needs, but my needs as a mommy.  I doubt Raegan (or Gavin or Brynn, for that matter), will ever grow up telling me, "you held me too much as a baby".

baby her cuddly little blanket

exhausted from being adorable all day long

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