43: A Bit Too Much Multitasking

43: A Bit Too Much Multitasking

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

A Bit Too Much Multitasking

A love letter is to be savored; a love e-mail… is to be forwarded to all your friends, and probably laughed at.

~Erin McKean

I homeschooled my daughter through elementary school. I loved watching her learn and spending time with her. We spent hours every day working on math, science, history, geography, and more.

I was also a full-time writer. I wrote for magazines and anthologies and children’s books. I would wake early every morning and write until it was time to teach my daughter. During her lunch, breaks, and when she was doing paperwork or using a computer program for math, I wrote. When we went to story time at the library, her gymnastics class, or doctor appointments, I wrote.

My husband and I were the directors for an all-volunteer ministry to refugees and immigrants through our church. The biggest part of the ministry was an English as a Second Language (ESL) school. Every week, we met with more than twenty volunteers, prepared for 100 students, registered and talked with students, taught or helped in daycare, and more. When there was a lull and I wasn’t needed, I sometimes taught our daughter something she needed more help with. Or I worked on an article or story that had a deadline.

In-between the schooling, writing and volunteering, my life as a wife and homemaker still went on. Somehow, I still found time to cook, shop, clean, take care of the dogs, run errands and spend time with family and friends.

“You must be Super Woman,” my friends would say.

“Or just plain crazy,” I’d respond.

There were definitely times when I was too tired to help out at the ESL school. Or times when I had promised a student I’d come to lunch and forgot. But most of the time, it seemed I was able to juggle things fairly well.

When I heard about an online school that offered writing courses taught by everyday writers, I applied to teach and was accepted. We could use the extra money, and I enjoyed sharing what I’d learned with new and aspiring writers.

One day after a very busy ESL ministry where classes were overflowing and several of our volunteers could not come for various reasons, I woke up tired and thinking of the long day.

My daughter was particularly difficult that day due to upcoming tests and disappointment that the museum we were going to visit was closed after a storm knocked out the electricity. I felt as if I were slogging through the morning and early afternoon, trying to keep us both on task and finally accepting that lessons were going to be shorter and an alternative “field trip” to the neighborhood park was in order.

We came home, both tired and a little cranky. I grabbed at the phone when it rang.

“Hey, hon, did you remember about the plans to run by and spend a little time with the new Bosnian students?” my husband asked. “They’ve been dying to have us visit. We won’t stay long.”

I gritted my teeth and grumbled that I’d forgotten. He asked if I could make or get some dessert. I grumbled a lot more, but agreed.

Then I remembered it was the night I always worked on my writing students’ e-mails, answering questions and reading assignments. I would be up late that night again.

We had a very nice visit with the family from Bosnia, and I could tell that we were going to be friends. They were thrilled with the dessert I threw together and presented us with a beautiful framed picture from their country.

I was still exhausted, but feeling a little more rejuvenated when we went home. I knew I had been cranky with my husband, and he hadn’t said a word about it. I also knew that I’d been so busy with my multitasking life that we’d spent very little alone time together.

That night after I took care of everything for my writing class, I sent out a note for my husband to see in his inbox the next day at school.

“It’s time for a romantic evening. Tomorrow there will be candles on the table and a few in our room. You’ll dine on your favorite foods, and then we can move our dessert to a more private place. Let me know what you think!”

The next day, I waited to hear back from my husband but never did. Finally, I saw an e-mail from one of my writing students. The subject line was the same one I’d sent to my husband. Her response: “When is this due?”

In horror, I realized I had e-mailed my class instead of my husband.

Immediately, I wrote and apologized for my late-night e-mail.

When the responses came in, I could only laugh.

“We thought it was an extra assignment to write on this topic.”

“You shouldn’t have told us about the mistake; we never would’ve known.”

I have learned many things about juggling my life. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I mess up. But one thing I have learned: Never send a romantic e-mail when you are too tired to check the address before hitting Send!

~Kathryn Lay

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