Pauses

October 21,2011
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath( )

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

A recent study has come out suggesting that multitasking is bad for you--in all the ways I expected, of ourse. I was disappointed to read about the study, though. I not only multitask all the time, but I pride myself on my ability to multitask well, thus achieving the impossible over the course of one single day. I don't know how I could accomplish everything I needed to if I weren't able to creatively and efficiently switch between tasks: grading papers, returning phone calls, helping students, answering e-mails, dipping briefly into writing projects, picking up kids, dipping back into projects, checking homework, answering e-mails, planning dinner, cleaning the house, switching laundry loads, feeding animals, answering e-mails....you get the picture. Maybe, of course, the answer is simple: if you do so much that you need to multitask, maybe you're doing too much. And of course I probably am; we all are, aren't we?

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Needless to say, it's been a crazy week. All week long I felt like one of those tiny little hamsters at PetSmart--the ones the kids love to watch so much, running around and around a plastic wheel and not getting anywhere. There have been brief calm and joyous pauses sprinkled here and there throughout the week: a rushed workout at the pool one day (sandwiched desperately between a meeting and carpool pick-up times) brought me 20 minutes of contentment; the only task I had to focus on was getting my body through the clear water to the other end of the lap lane. Two weeks ago I discovered an amazing food blog--the kind that makes your mouth start to water just as you click your mouse over the link, and you get that excited, jumpy feeling inside because you just can't wait to start cooking (well, at least that happens to me). One afternoon during this crazy-busy week, I turned a blind eye to the fact that the kitchen floor needed mopping, and the kitchen table de-cluttering, and T.'s bento box cleaning out, and I made this Pumpkin Mac 'n Cheeze and it was addictive and delicious and worthy of much praise. Further inspired, I followed it up with scrumptious Pumpkin Gingerbread Smoothies for dessert, which T. and I slurped down while leafing through a toy catalog together (L. did actually take a sip, but scrunched up his face and said he liked pumpkin pie better). And on Thursday night T. and I spread out across her bedroom floor and made Lowly the Worms.

If you don't know who Lowly the Worm is, your childhood was missing something--someone--very important, and you'll have to make up for that by rushing out to get your hands on a Richard Scarry Busytown book. My sister and I made Lowly the Worms when we were kids, too. My sister's Lowly was far superior to mine, because she is much more creative and talented than I am with things like that. She can make the most whimsical and magical things out of the simplest materials. I still remember her Lowly and I wonder if he still lives somewhere in her closet in the house we grew up in.

 

T. slept with both Lowlys clutched under her chin. I tucked her in and thought about how the next day would be Friday, and we'd have the whole weekend ahead. I vowed right then and there to make sure we'd keep the pauses long and beautiful.

 

Happy Weekend!