Thursday, March 1, 2012

You can't have your toast and blog it, too

I've often said that a 'one day at a time' motto is hopelessly over-ambitious. I mean, who among us can focus on getting through an entire Thursday? No, no, no. On the best of days I can only focus on an hour or two at a time. On the worst of days fifteen minutes can be a full-time job.

Think about it. If you have to get a pile of children somewhere in the morning, the span of time between when they get out of bed and when they get out the door is a one-hour day. If you try to get anything else done during that time your kids will intuit (in the same way your sleeping newborn knew you were trying to put him down in his crib, every time) that you are not paying attention. They know. I'm not sure exactly how, but they do. And they take advantage of that freedom. In the pause it takes to dash off a two-sentence email, kids can start an entire art project, create a knee-deep mess, or entirely disappear.

I think that's a fact. You can tell me if it isn't. And if it isn't, tell me how you do it.

Here's the thing: most of my less-attractive parenting moments occur when priorities collide. It's when I'm trying to get a project done and get the kids to do schoolwork, or when I need to get to the doctor on time and find a not-put-away shoe that my temper flares. I suspect that's because when my attention is divided, the mental margin I usually have for dealing with lost shoes is consumed by whatever non-parenting thing it is that I'm trying to deal with.

So sure, I can imagine that I can finish a blog post while the kids are eating their French toast. And I can finish the post. But they won't finish the toast. Guaranteed.


  1. oh yes. sometimes the hour is really only just one minute. if i can get through this very singular minute, i can find the next one.... oh yes.

  2. Steven Curtis Chapman has a song called "Next Five Minutes" that talks about living in the moment. The chorus ends with this:

    "And after the next five minutes
    Turn into the last five minutes
    I'm taking the next five minutes
    And start it all over again."

  3. Amen to that last paragraph.