The Perils of Multi-tasking

You might be wondering why I haven’t posted for almost two weeks. The reason is—no joke—my baby boy spit up all over my laptop. When I turned it on a few hours later, typing on the keyboard caused all sorts of interesting things to happen, none of which was sending my commands to the computer.Though this news might make you smile, it didn’t make my husband smile. Just because I left the laptop on the floor at the same time that I left my baby crawling around the house unattended and on the same day that I left the garage door open overnight, he thinks I’m forgetful. He wants me to slow down and carefully finish one thing before I start another.It’s a nice idea, and there’s even a Chinese proverb to back him up: “Do what you’re doing.” In other words, focus on the task at hand.  But as we all know, Chinese women only have one child.Once you have your second child it becomes impossible to abide by that proverb. Fortunately, research has shown that while men’s brains are suited to focusing on a single task, women’s brains are designed for multi-tasking. In other words, men are good at tuning out distractions so they can chase down bears and wrestle them to the ground, whereas women are able to fry onions, boil noodles, listen for the dryer’s buzzer, hold a baby, broker peace between feuding children, cajole said children into setting the table and talk to a friend on the phone–all at the same time.Unfortunately, even we women have a limit to how many tasks we can manage at once. I know this because lately I’ve been reaching it. I don’t have enough time to think all the things I need to think. When I’m cruising around in my minivan and come to an intersection, I often feel momentary panic. My adrenalin kicks in as I have to decide which way to turn when I can’t remember where I’m headed.I’m worried about this because I plan to have more children, and I’m pretty sure it gets worse and worse with each child. My mother, for instance, has seven children and twenty-four grandchildren. Though they are all out of her house, they’re not out of her head. She always has a lot on her mind, and from time to time we can see that her mind is working past its full capacity.For example, she drove to work one day, parked her car, locked it and went inside. She went to her office and started to take off her coat when she noticed that her shirt was on inside out. The strangest part was that it was a button-up shirt; she couldn’t figure out how she’d managed to button it up with the buttons on the inside. A few hours later (her shirt now on the right way), a coworker found her working at her desk and asked, “Are you going somewhere?”“No,” she replied, sounding puzzled.“Well, isn’t that your car?” he asked, pointing out the window to her Volvo.“Yes,” she said.“It’s running,” he told her.


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4 Responses to The Perils of Multi-tasking

  1. Renee DeLong

    I’m already like this, Lara. You are scaring me…

  2. Jen

    I’m loving your chinese proverb and “Chinese women only have one child.” You crack me up! And speak (or write) the truth!

  3. We have six children and it does get worse with each one. But at least I can blame it all on the children. When my fourth was a baby, I went to pick her brother up from kindergarten. When we got home, I got her out of her car seat and thought she had soaked through a diaper. But no, I had forgotten to put a diaper on her at all!!And Chinese women DO only have one child! LOL I love it!

  4. Karen Pelton

    How old are you?? Wise beyond your years! I always thought my brains would return proportionately to the children leaving the house, but that’s not true and now I know it’s because of what you said … they may be out of the house but they are in my brain!! And I only have 6 grandkids. Your mom’s holding it together 🙂 really well.

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