By Shannon Magsam
John calls from work and I’m editing a story on my computer. He asks after me and I tell him I’m fine, fine. He asks, “What was that noise?” Oh, I just smashed down the trash so I could fit more in – that was an old squeaky toy of the dog’s that I threw away, I explain.
He asks another question and I distractedly answer. Now I’m unloading the dryer. It seems like he wants to keep talking, but instead says he’ll talk to me later and we hang up. We forget to say I love you. We rarely forget.
Later, after my daughter is home from school and doing her homework at the kitchen table, I sit across from her doing my own homework on the laptop. She asks about medians in math. I get up, read the instructions with her, wind her back up again and go sit back down.
Two minutes later she mentions something that happened in the lunchroom. Her friends called her food yucky. I can see part of her head over the computer and I look across at her. “Well, if you like it, just tell them everybody likes different kinds of food,” I say, then continue typing.
When I look up next, she’s gone to play in her room. I’m left with the feeling that maybe she had more to say about the lunchroom episode, but I didn’t bother to ask any questions.
My sister calls that evening and we start to chat. I’m folding the laundry that I never got around to this morning and the phone is in the crook of my neck again. I’m unloading the dishwasher when she says she’s having a problem with her daughter, who’s the same age as Ladybug. She wants my opinion.
The t.v. is loud and Ladybug is calling out to me from her bathwater. I feel frazzled. I have to ask my sister to repeat what she just said, not because of the noise, but because I was concentrating on whether the silverware was really clean or not.
I tell my sister to hang on, I take Ladybug the shampoo, tell my husband to listen for her, and get back on the phone. I try to be a person who learns from lessons, especially those that are so fresh.
I take the phone into the bedroom and close the door. I sit on the bed and hold it to my ear with my hand. I don’t do anything, except listen. Really listen.
In bed that night, I think about how women are so “good” at multitasking. How we feel more productive when we’re accomplishing more than two things at once. And how that good feeling can turn bad when we realize the people in our lives are rarely receiving our complete focus. And they deserve it.
My 10th anniversary weekend is coming up and I’ve vowed: no computer, no phones, no distractions. Oh, and no multitasking.
Shannon Magsam is mom to 8-year-old Ladybug, married to Ladybug’s dad, John, and co-creator of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of Life With Ladybug, click here. Oh, and leave a comment if you’re in the mood.