The success of life as a working--well, any mom, really--hinges precariously on the ability to multi-task. I've heard people argue there is no such thing as multi-tasking, saying you just switch quickly from one task to another. To those naysayers: I challenge you to watch me cook dinner while nursing Henry and helping Sam tackle his homework.
Time is short and my to-do list is long...so I get a lot of practice at this particular skill.
Joe has been out of town on business for most of this week. Instead of heading home with three tired, hungry and crabby kids, I decided to change up the afterschool tedium with a trip to the Honda dealership. Our Odyssey has this newfangled sensor that lights up ominously as it counts down how much oil life you have left. I'm not sure what happens when it gets to zero--it might just stop all together--but I don't want to find out. Anyway, the sensor had been warning me for several days, so we headed in for an oil change.
The geniuses at the Honda service department have crafted a waiting room that is a mother's Nirvana. There is a glass-walled children's play area complete with slide, legos, chalk boards and a TV. Just outside this room, there are complementary snacks and juice boxes. For adults, there are comfy couches with magazines and another TV. I've been much more dedicated to car maintenance since we started going to the Honda service department.
I was enjoying some peace, if not quiet, watching Sam and ND climb on the slide while I meticulously handed Henry one Cheerio at a time. (He is mastering his pincer grasp and shows his displeasure when you hand him too many). I settled back in my chair...
...and then my cell phone rang.
It was in its usual spot--an undisclosed location buried deep in my purse under wipes and snacks, receipts and forms...and some matchbox cars. I rummaged and rummaged and managed to grab it just before it went to voicemail.
"Hello? Dr. Kaufman?"
"Uh, this is Jen."
It was the Interventional Radiologist, calling me about one of my patients. Whether it was the full moon or Murphy's law or pure dumb bad luck, all hell broke loose the moment Dr. IR started to speak.
(Later, I would describe it to Joe as "your kids went, I believe, the term is 'bat-shit crazy' today").
While Dr. IR is trying to explain to me just how much contrast my patient will need during his procedure, Sam and Natalie start chasing each other down the hall, running away from the wonderful waiting room toward someone's no-longer quiet office, screaming and laughing at the top of their lungs, circling the elderly janitor's cart and weaving in between her legs.
While I'm picturing them causing her to fall and break a hip, I am trapped in the play area with Henry clutching my pant leg. I am simultaneously explaining my plans for my patient to Dr. IR while shooting my I Mean Business face at my older offspring.
When this fails to corral them, I change to Angry Mother Eyes, which is accompanied by gesticulating widely, which most parents would recognize as the Time Out is Imminent Dance.
(Meanwhile, I am having a detailed and interesting conversation with Dr IR about optimizing renal function with IV hydration and bicarbonate).
As soon as Dr IR says good-bye, I hiss "Stop that!" to Sam and Natalie while dialing my office to update my assistant and my patient. I click the end button on my phone and magically, my children transform into the two well-behaved delightful beings they were just minutes before.
Sometimes, multi-tasking is a necessity...but it is very exhausting.
Maybe I should have just asked if he could call me back.