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  • Dr. Colleen M. Fairbanks

Flies on Shit

In discussions of motherhood, I'm often asked if I ever feel like a mamma duck with ducklings tagging closely behind. What a sweet and endearing frame of reference! Every bone in my body wishes I could say YES! Yes, I do! However, instead of this picturesque image, I usually envision motherhood like flies on shit.

I spend the majority of my time on this tiny kitchen rug placed between my stove and sink in our two story, three bedroom, two bath home (I put that out there so you all know there is plenty of space for everyone to have breathing room). I'm sorry. I should have clarified. Let me back up. I spend the majority of my time on this tiny kitchen rug with some body part of at least one, if not two, and sometimes all three of my kids touching me and/or the rug.

I'm constantly either shooing them away or trying to multitask (I know---I'll do homework with one, play play dough with another, get out coloring for the third, while doing dishes, checking my phone for an anticipated email, changing the laundry over, cooking dinner, and prepping lunches for the next day. Fool proof plan, right?!?!). No matter which option I chose, it ended with me frustrated and wondering why I couldn't get things done and then focus on them.

Problem is, as you all know, the logistics of parenting and life are never ending. To add to this, multitasking, something we instantly turn to when faced with competing demands, is incredibly inefficient and more than that, it drains us. Our brains aren't wired to pay attention to a lot of things at once, but we assume the energy drain culprit is our kids, or work, or relationships, or whatever the flavor of the day is for you.

What I needed in those crazed, there are four people on this rug and eight things going on at once, moments was a good dose of mindfulness. In these moments, I could not silence my surroundings but I could silence the frustrated negative internal chatter. I stopped multitasking and stared unitasking. I stopped shooing and started engaging. I stopped reacting and started responding.

There will always be a juggling element of life, work, and kids, but instead of operating in the cluster of reacting, shooing, and multitasking ending in exhaustion, misdirected crabbiness, and regrets, I'm now choosing to live with a very clear intentioned focus.

I was pretty sure either my home or I, or both, would implode if I stopped multitasking. Spoiler alert--The only thing that happened was finding I had more time and energy available to meet all of life's demands...and... I'm starting to feel less like waste and more like a duck :)

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