Apologies for this tardy post, I’ve been busier than Father Christmas at Christmas. I’ve been busy at being a new mum, an old daughter, a loyal employee, an impatient patient, a good friend and a fair to middling girlfriend. But to be totally honest, I’ve had The Fear.
Although I’m fairly certain I was not lobotomised during labour, nor did my brain fall out with Fred, some months ago I forgot the word for orange. Orange. Now, I don’t profess to be a linguist ninja – I can’t pen a sonnet quite like Shakespeare or write rhymes like Rihanna, but orange is pretty basic stuff. 11-month old Freddie could probably say orange if I repeated it fifty times and bribed him with a biscuit. But when I was forced to ask for a ‘big satsuma’ instead of an orange, so crept in The Fear.
Inflicted with The Fear, I couldn’t possibly write my blog because I had become a Mombie. (Mum / Zombie = Mombie). A Mombie is the sleep deprived specie who finds her keys in the fridge; the friend who moans on the phone because she can’t find her phone. A Mombie is the daughter who forgets birthdays and the mum who forgets days. A Mombie sets off to Sainsbury’s in socks and asks for a big satsuma because orange is beyond her vocabulary reach. And maybe I’m guilty of all of the above, but I can quite confidently admit that without fear of losing my job. Because of course I am not a Mombie! Never have two words been so inappropriately morphed, (aside from Pornado, which is quite frankly horrifying.) No, I’m not a Mombie, I’m a mother f-ing multi-tasking majesty!
So what if I forgot a word as common as crisps? At the time my brain was busy juggling the demands of an endless combination of tasks on my to-do. But if only life were as simple as juggling, an act you are totally in control of once you’ve mastered the technique. In real life you can’t time the introduction of new balls, and they’re certainly not all the same shape. Some balls scream louder than others and demand immediate attention. Some hold a special place in your heart and take time to nurture. Some are just plain irksome but if you don’t pick them up then no one else will. Life is not a juggling act; it’s a performance of many acts in which I’ve got many roles. Each role demands as much attention as the other, and each act begins with an off-stage triage.
Women are commonly revered with the multitasking crown. For histories we’ve been repeatedly reminded of how jolly good we are at it, perhaps so our pride trudges us through the trenches of crap chores we have to endure. The headline of a hilarious Daily Mail article proclaims ‘Two thirds of mothers admit to multi-tasking EVERY waking hour.’ (Their capitalisation, not mine…) But what if I can’t whip round home like the Tasmanian devil, folding washing whilst baking, budgeting, philosophising, painting the skirting boards and row-row-rowing a boat with Freddie? What if I don’t want to? My humble heritage means I did not inherit Ganesh-like limbs and multitasking leaves me feeling fraught and frazzled.
Perhaps multi-tasking is overrated? When leaping from one task into the next the brain is compelled to restart and refocus resulting in a responsive bottleneck. So, when a platter of fruit was passed round at playgroup, I was caught with my proverbial pants down typing notes into my phone about a contract I needed to re-write at work. Fred went without fruit (oh the horror), and I got The Fear.
The Fear left me wondering if perhaps I couldn’t play any of my roles all that well. The Fear left me feeling guilty for being an absent mum whilst at work, and being absent minded whilst at home. The Fear rendered me wordless.
So I quit. I quit multitasking. I quit trying be everything to all people at the same time. Now, instead of endlessly attempting to multi-role, I bring the best me I can be to the current scene. For me it’s a form of meditation as focus mutes the muddled monologues in my mind. At playgroup I am wholly focused on Freddie as he navigates the world afresh, blond curls bouncing off the nape of his neck. At work I am wholly focused on our company’s success, which means being as efficient and effective as I can possibly be. Of course I don’t for a moment forget that I’m Freddie’s mum, I’ve just learnt that it works best for me if I set aside the mum-me until I’m home.
Thank goodness, The Fear has been banished back stage, along with the multi-tasking crown (which never really fit that well anyway). So in future, if you see a woman running for the bus in mismatched shoes, please don’t confuse her for a Mombie – she’s probably just stepping into her next role.
Oranges are not the only fruit…