TWO PLACES AT ONCE--Guest Blogger Jeanette HanscomeI’d like to introduce today’s guest blogger Jeanette Hanscome. Jeanette is a friend I met at Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference. She’s also a great writer, publishing three books for Focus on the Family. Check out her website.
Also check out the It’s Real Life blog for her second post. I’m sure you can relate with the balancing act no matter what tugs for your attention!
TWO PLACES AT ONCE
By Jeanette Hanscome
In the movie A Walk to Remember Jamie shows Landon a list of things that she has always secretly wanted to do. One is to be in two places at once. So one night Landon drives Jamie to the state line. He instructs her to stand with one foot on each side of the white line separating their home state from the next.
“There,” he says, once Jamie is straddling the line. “You’re in two places at once.”
It’s a great scene!
As a busy mom (of a preschooler and a teenager), wife and writer, who also works part time outside the home and serves at church, I often wish that I could be in two places at once. I’ll confess that, in my mind, I often am in two places. Friday, while overseeing the nap room at the after-school program where I work, I outlined my latest devotional assignment. If my director knew how often my mind is on a writing project instead of the kids, she might fire me.
While reading a bedtime story to my son Nathan, my mind wonders to the next-day’s to-do list, or dishes that need to be done once he goes to sleep. If my older son Christian asks to watch a movie, rarely do I just sit and enjoy it with him. I’m folding laundry, sorting coupons, painting my nails. I am notorious for taking my laptop on vacation so I can work during spare time.
A couple of months ago I almost burned the house down by trying to be in two places at once. I was scrambling to meet a deadline and decided to get a jump-start on dinner. After bringing some rice to a boil, I put the lid on then scurried back to the office without lowering the temperature on the stove. A half hour later the house was filled with smoke, my one and only medium-sized sauce pan scorched beyond repair. I vowed that day to stop multi-tasking—to focus on one thing at a time. My vow lasted about half a day.
As I juggle the responsibilities of family, home, and work, I actually beat myself up on occasion, for not being able to take on more. It’s easy to blame my perpetual overload on the “do-it-all” generation that I was born into, or the fact that growing up with low vision turned me into a bit of an overachiever. I’ll admit it gives me great pleasure to surpass the low expectations of my childhood teachers, or to do more than some normally-sighted people. It’s really pretty silly when I think about it. I mean who am I trying to impress?
Lately I have recognized how much I miss when I am constantly in two places at once. Distraction blocks my ability to have fun, or to truly appreciate God’s blessings. My kids and my husband get half my attention. Tasks and assignments get done half as well. Even time with God is an effort, as I try to pray and plan my day at the same time.
And what am I teaching my kids? Will they learn to enjoy the moment? Scarier still, will they doubt their value in my eyes, as they think back to all the times when I was physically present but not really “there?”
Maybe the idea of being in two places at once is overrated. I think I’m learning though.
Yesterday I accompanied Nathan to a birthday party for one of his “girlfriends” from preschool. It was held at Jump Man Jump, a place where the kids spend an hour and a half running from one bounce house and inflatable slide to another. I woke up wishing that I could leave him at the party and go home to get some things done. But I’d ridden with a friend who planned to stay, so I had to stay too.
Instead of slapping on my Happy Birthday face while privately fretting over cleaning and laundry that needed to get done, I put all that stuff out of my mind, silenced the guilt trip voice, and joined the party. I followed Nathan up the soft steps of a giant bouncy slide, plopped down beside him, grabbed his hand, and sailed down, screaming as if I was also four, instead of . . . the age that I am. I enjoyed every moment of the party. It felt great to be 100% there, proving to Nathan that Mommy has not forgotten how to play.