Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Momus Interruptus

The title speaks for itself, wouldn’t you say? I can’t speak for mothers who work outside the home (I imagine it‘s much worse for you), but in my stay-at-home mom house, I’m in a constant state of Momus Interruptus. I don’t get three steps away before I’m asked for something: juice, to replay Clifford “one more time” (by my two year old who thinks one more time means over and over), or to come here and sit with us (by my husband who just wants the three of us to be together at the end of the day). Momus interruptus is the reason I rarely finish a task once I’ve begun it. I have 10 projects started waiting for the odd block of uninterrupted time.

I find myself resenting the interruptions, especially when I’m trying to write. It’s so difficult to complete a paragraph when I can’t even complete a thought without saying, “No, you may not open Daddy’s guitar case.” or “Please step away from the electrical outlet!” When the writing bug bites, I have to sit down as quickly as the thoughts come for fear of losing the whole idea. You may say, write the idea down for later. No problem. I’ll just see if I can track down a pen, some paper that doesn’t contain a grocery list or yesterday’s Jeopardy scores (I gotta have some fun) before being asked, “May I please have a harshmallow?” When I’ve located said implements I often end up writing down whatever cute thing Rafe just said (harshmallow is one of my favorites!) and putting in his baby book - which is so much more important than some Mommy essay anyway.

Then comes the guilt! I find myself feeling bad for the times I tell my son or husband, “Just a minute…” I apparently say it so often now that Rafe picked it up and chooses to use it at the most inopportune times, like when I say, “Please step away from the electrical outlet!”

The rub of it all is that a balance must exist between what’s acutely important and what must be done for sanity’s sake. Sitting on the couch watching Clifford with my baby who’s so quickly morphing into a boy, that‘s acutely important. Playing trains with him when his mind is working at warp speed and he’s imagining a whole world before my very eyes, also acutely important. The “stuff” that I must do for sanity’s sake, is, say, sweeping the grit off the floor after we’ve been in and out a dozen times because it sets my teeth on edge, or going around to pick up the sippy cups that appear in the oddest places so that a top can be found for milk at 6:30 a.m. Because I must accomplish at least a few of those tasks each day, I try to utilize Rafe’s nap time for something other than my own nap. This isn’t easy because my writing is usually relegated to the after midnight slot and my little alarm clock is full-speed ahead bright and early.

I do, however, have to boast that I have the most wonderful (and blessedly retired) mother-in-law in the entire world who delights in Rafe spending the night with them at least one night during the week. My own dear mother is always happy to have him sleep over with them on the weekends. The support helps me catch up with the mundane but necessary.

It‘s so cliché to say, but there just isn’t enough time in a day to get done all the things you want to do and all the things you have to do. My heart chooses the acutely important while my mind chooses the necessary, and never the twain shall meet, so to speak. My stress levels when the necessaries are lacking make the acutely important harder to enjoy! It’s easy to be sentimental and say, I’ll worry about the chores later. That’s all fine and good until someone doesn’t have a clean towel or underwear. My daily prayer is that I can strike the balance of being available for the important while doing enough necessary for all of us to leave the house clothed tomorrow. And while I’m at it, I’ll ask God to help me remember to scoop up all the acutely important moments I can.

In that spirit, two of my favorite poems on this subject come to mind. I think I’ll print them and put them on the fridge to help me relax and remember what’s truly “necessary”.

My dishes went unwashed today, I didn’t make the bed.
I took her hand and followed where her eager footsteps led.
Her little singsong voice I heard, her thoughts I understood.
My kitchen wasn’t mopped today, but life was rich and good.
That my house was neglected, that I didn’t sweep the stairs,
In twenty years no one on earth will know or even care.
But that I helped my daughter into a joyful woman grow,
In twenty years the whole wide world may look and see and know.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait ‘til tomorrow
For babies grow up, we’ve learned to our sorrow
So quiet down cobwebs, and dust go to sleep I’m rocking my baby,
and babies don’t keep.
Author Unknown