Multitasking on Mom
by Paula Dumas
Saturdays=Chaos. Pick up the dry cleaning. Do five loads of laundry. Get Son #1 to double-header. Stockpile groceries at Sam’s Club. Forget about getting hair cut.
Every Saturday, our family schedule is jam-packed with errands and sports events and chores. Trying to get it all done on Saturday so we can actually make Sunday God’s day. Not an uncommon feat for a mom with active kids underfoot who works full-time.
Now mix in the Saturday ritual of catching up with my mom, aka Grandma, in California, which is clearly a priority for me. Or is it? More and more, I find myself multitasking while talking to Mom. And I have to wonder: Am I honoring my mother the way God intended?
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12
– Putting on makeup and talking to Mom.
– Unloading the dishwasher and talking to Mom.
– Finding school project supplies and talking to Mom.
– Filling up the grocery cart and talking with Mom.
– Watching my son’s baseball game and talking with Mom.
– Answering an email from the fifth grade class mom while talking with Mom.
And so on.
Now, let’s be clear: I learned the fine art of multitasking from Mom herself, who caned chairs and ironed while watching Happy Days with the family. She’s still got it going on, except that I do believe she’s giving me 100 percent of her attention while I’m giving her 70 percent of mine.
You can hear my guilt, right? Except that it doesn’t feel like there’s any other option—this stuff has to get done, and I delegate and simplify all I can. That reminds me of two important guideposts on this topic.
1. Doing two things badly. A time management expert spoke at our church and quipped, “Multitasking is doing two things badly.” I had to challenge her on this point, and we agreed: Mindless + Mindful is okay, like quietly unloading the dishwasher + listening to Grandma. Mindful + Mindful is a bad idea, like talking and typing at once.
2. Only one thing is needed. One of my favorite studies, “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver, says that God actually wants us to be less busy. Instead of multitasking on Jesus like Martha in the kitchen, Mary sat at his feet and listened. It’s a constant reminder to me to focus on Christ and on the most important earthly relationships I’ve been blessed with — my family — instead of multitasking without their permission.
So, Mom, how does 100 percent of me on Sunday sound?