Thursday, February 08, 2007

Multi-Tasking Mom: Hustling from Home

by Paula Neal Mooney

A teacher at my child’s pre-school peeked into my minivan as I stopped in the driveway to let my daughter out and took advantage of my few seconds of stillness to put the finishing touches of crimson polish on the acrylic nail covering my thumb.

"Mom is multi-tasking," she observed.

"Always," I answered, before zipping back down West Market Street with my driver’s side window and sunroof ajar, drying my nails in the 30-degree weather.

I had only a few minutes to devote to wet nails – for once home I’d hit it again: back on the computer, typing in my drafty sitting room as the sun beamed brightly beyond the bay window through the trees.

I Know How I Do It…
…‘cause I know I’m not really the one doing all the miraculous tasks that make up my days, flowing smooth as melted butter. Take one day last December, for instance, when I raced my son into his classroom with around 100 seconds to spare, then traipsed with my daughter over to WalMart to buy a small list of sundries that came in five bucks under budget.

After dropping her off and performing the minivan "mani" described above, I spent the next few hours chasing down the validity of a Halle Berry-turned-singer news report.

As soon as my kid-free morning hours flew by, I combined family time with my research duties: My little girl checked out a "Cars" sticker book in the kids’ section of Barnes & Noble while I knelt next to her devouring a piece from the latest Essence.

Chatting with everyone from local librarians to my mother-in-law to track down a specific issue of Ebony, I glided back down sunny and sloping Smith Road to my neck of the Sand Run woods, then tended to both hearth and work-at-home duties.

Your Gifts Will Make Room for You…
… and bring you before great men, so says Proverbs 18:6. I’m definitely experiencing the first part of that prophecy now. "I want to go to the library," my son said when I picked him up from school, a rare proclamation as of late. How could he have known a copy of the very magazine I needed to verify my news report was waiting for me at Akron’s beautiful main library?

Not long after, both kids were begging me to watch their makeshift puppet show as I poured over every page in the elusive Ebony I’d been chasing all day. Pausing with my children as we took in the wonder of the colorful Christmas lights flickering in a red and blue and cream design in the distance, I realized I do have it all in this work-life-balance dance – or at least some facsimile thereof – at least most of the time.

She considereth a field, and buyeth it…
…such was written of the proverbially busy wife and mother, who seemed so together with her multi-tasking ways that she could very well be 31 women all in one. But I like this biblical woman – no misrepresented layabout mom was she.

I can relate to having plenty of irons in the fire, hustling for multiple streams of revenue to fulfill my life’s purpose and soul while helping to ensure I won’t have to be enslaved in corporate bondage again…unless I want to.

Most of all, I love the motion of it all, the juggling of the kids and the husband and the laundry and the (mostly microwave) meals and the like. Many days I feel like I’m playing a fun round of beat-the-clock, just to see how much can be accomplished in the same 24 little hours God has blessed us all with.

I shudder to think how much time I wasted 32 B.C. – the 32 years of complete freedom I had before children, that is. Now it’s all about squeezing in bath time, 15 minutes of "100 book challenge" reading time, writing time, net time, and get-that-story-in-before-deadline time.

Bath Sweet Bath
I love the whirlwind, but I know when to slow down. When the frazzles start to overtake me, I lock myself in the bathroom and soak in a hot bath, hands raised to the ceiling, checking in with my Commander-in-Chief to make sure I haven’t derailed.

Many nights I’m still writing as one day melts into the next, writing and reading and surfing and editing past midnight. My time. Mooney-comes-alive time. "When all the world is sleep," as Terence Trent D'Arby sang.

In the still of the morning the routine begins anew. I don’t necessarily have to do it. I get to do it. I am a big bundle of nervous energy that I seek to expend in holy and healthy ways: on the treadmill, on this PC, with my husband, chasing my children. It’s all me. I’m every woman. I fall short. We all do. But I love being a multi-tasking mom.

This essay originally appeared in the February 2007 edition of Cleveland / Akron Family magazines and is available for reprints.

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KWiz said...

Wow. Your life appears to be a manageable (for you) frenzy. Although I'm not a stay-at-home mom, I can relate to the organized chaos. Thank you for sharing your story.

Jose said...

Wow Paula!

Great post. Chaka would be proud of you!

Martin said...

Way to go Paula. Getting published in more than one outlet. That's how I got started a couple of years ago, writing an article for our local paper when I was still in the insurance business. I'm curious though. Has anyone written about the multitasking dad? Hummm...sounds like a post idea.

Paula Neal Mooney said...

Thanks, kwiz...yeah, some days it really works so well. I must write and mother to feel full.

Hey Jose. Oh...I get it now -- duh, after all I did put blonde extensions in my hair -- by Chaka you mean that I'm every woman!

Hey Martin - Sounds like you need to post about the multitasking dad, there.

I'd better head on over to your blog to see if you did.

paul said...

You have an incredibly rare handle on thorough creative story telling, like I have never seen any woman have...very cool gift the Lord has given you!

32 B.C LOVE it!!!

Paula Neal Mooney