71: Keeping the Plates Spinning

71: Keeping the Plates Spinning

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

Keeping the Plates Spinning

Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.

~Mother Teresa

“Do I have everything?” asks my daughter, Betsy, as she hands me the baby she just nursed and adjusts the princess backpack on her first-grader’s shoulders. She grabs her car keys, lunch bag, laptop, and breast pump, and trudges to her minivan. After she takes Amy to school, she will work a long day as an aerospace engineer, supervising fifteen scientists working on a project deadline. As I wave to her, I think about the many demands on this multitasking mom.

This morning before dawn, Betsy shared her frustrations as she sat in the kitchen in her nightgown, bleary-eyed and yawning, while I made blueberry pancakes and packed lunches.

“Mom, thank heavens you agreed to fly here to help me! I had another sleepless night and got up several times to nurse Anna. With her fever, she was really fussing. I couldn’t get back to sleep so I ended up handling a ton of e-mails from work. With Matt on a business trip to China, the baby too sick for daycare, the plumber coming sometime today, and Amy needing a ‘parent’ for her field trip this week, how could I handle this on my own? I can answer that… I couldn’t!”

As I continue working in the kitchen, I notice Betsy has already put ham and navy beans in the Crock-Pot and programmed the bread machine to begin baking. She’ll have dinner ready when she returns home from work after dark. I compliment her on her organization and stamina and ask how she manages everything.

“I feel I have a long line of plates spinning on sticks, and no matter how I rush to keep them from falling, there are always some that begin to wobble.”

Later, Betsy grabs a minute to call me from work, where she’s working through lunch and pumping her breast milk. She shares what just happened.

“I couldn’t believe it! I have this big sign on my office door that says ‘Do Not Enter’ so I can have privacy while I pump. A guy I work with doesn’t bother to read it and walks in on me while I’m sitting there without a bra. We both die of embarrassment.”

I empathize with my daughter as she juggles her career and motherhood. She is sleep-deprived, has no time for herself, and can’t remember the last time she had a date with her husband.

Betsy needs my support and is grateful I’m her helper, not a guest. I handle the shopping, meals, baths, story time, cleaning, laundry, maintenance calls, school obligations, babysitting and more.

Sometimes, it takes two multitasking moms to keep all those plates spinning.

~Miriam Hill

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