As a woman, I wear many hats. Wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, friend, mentor, toilet cleaner, meal maker, dessert creator and consumer. But this is only a few of my hats, and like you, they are as diverse and adaptable as the situation requires. We women know how to multitask like no other. Why just the other day I was quad tasking and making great strides when the cookies burnt in the oven, the cream boiled over on the stove, my salad ended up with cinnamon on it and I can’t remember a thing the person on the phone had said to me.
Trying to do so many things at once resulted in a grand failure of every component and necessitated double the work to begin again. Except the phone call. I cannot with any dignity call that person back and admit I didn’t hear a single word they said, despite the fact I kept making affirming “mhmms” sounds the whole time. For me, it is difficult to focus exclusively on a single task, without the thirty other things on my list begging for my attention. One time in my slightly younger and more daring days, I had to get the boys to band practice at the crack of dawn. I thought to myself, why don’t I just dye my hair before I go, then I won’t be wasting any time. Off we went, complete with my now red head wrapped in plastic. On the way home I hoped I would not be delayed, and my hair fall out, or worse, pulled over and the officer inquire about what looked like a giant blood clot on my head. So dumb.
I remember taking this to confession to a visiting African priest, Fr. Calisto, who said this, “Flies don’t overwhelm us with their strength but with their number.” That made a ton of sense. Trying to juggle so many things at once instead of giving each task or person their due, was overwhelming and unnecessary.
I have gotten slightly better about not multi-tasking as I age. I used to have the illusion whereby I actually believed I was getting ahead of the clock and accomplishing more with less. This was my experience anyway. You, however, may be a multitasking diva. I have come to realize that every task is a gift I give of myself. While changing a dirty diaper or cleaning toilets doesn’t sound like a gift, it most certainly is to those who are the recipients of our efforts. St. Teresa of Calcutta said this, “In loving one another through our works we bring an increase of grace and a growth in divine love.” Yes, even in the most redundant tasks.
I remember deciding to hand-pull weeds in our yard a few years back. I sat there on the rocks and went to work. The more weeds I pulled the more I noticed looming just a few feet away. Because I had completely focused on this one task my mind was free to ponder things like the state of my own soul. How many weeds were in there? Was it a wasteland? A beautiful manicured garden? Or, somewhere in between. Weed pulling, while tedious, was a great way to get in touch with nature which easily lead me to contemplate the supernatural.
It is written in Scripture, “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” (Lk 2:19) Our Blessed Mother had a lot to contend with in her life. She did not receive “the playbook” before she gave her fiat, “Behold I am the handmaiden of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38)
Here is our model ladies. So many times, we want to control events, people, and outcomes. Mary, our Blessed Mother, surrendered all to the Will of God. She trusted God. She entrusted herself and her family to the One who carries us in the palm of His hand.
So now when I am tempted to be controlling or to multi-task my way through life, I instead consider what the greatest woman who ever walked the planet, and the very woman chosen among all women, would do in a given situation. It really is freeing. I am released from thinking I have to do it all and spared the weight of unanticipated outcomes.
The time we have on this planet is so tiny in the whole scheme of our existence. As women we really must learn to let go of the small stuff, and it is all small stuff, as we refocus with an eternal outlook. This will naturally help us to be good to ourselves, let ourselves and others off the hook, and bring a peace that I daresay we lack. We seem to worry endlessly about too many things that do not even matter in the long term. That peace and perspective will make us feel lighter, fill us with joy…and naturally help us to be nicer to those around us. You know, the ones who live in the same household with us.
And, watch out for those flies, they can easily swarm and overwhelm us.
Mary, Mother of Jesus, and all the heavenly host of saints are but a simple prayer away. They are only too happy to assist us.
Mary, Queen of the Rosary. Pray for us!