I’ve just realized that when I’m exercising I take responsibility for the whole room. Let me clarify: I’m not teaching this class, just working out. But I feel compelled to smile encouragingly to the newbie, notice when the person behind me seems exhausted, and worry about the folks who are off-rhythm. I watch the clock, check out the muscle tone on the (much) younger woman in front of me, and wonder how much work I’ll get done when I get home. Recently, after about a year of this distracted exercising, I decided to just focus on the small bubble of space I inhabit and pretend nothing else exists.
This has become my new strategy. This summer I’m trying to finish a monograph, at least the bulk of it, before September. Meanwhile this is the last summer before my daughter enters kindergarten and I fantasized about long, relaxed days at the park. In addition, I’d like to spend more one-on-one time with my stepdaughter. And I should organize the four classes I’ll be teaching in the fall. Oh, and go on more romantic dates with my husband, perhaps even initiate 100-days of sex. And there’s that 8 pounds I’d love to lose, linen cabinets I’d like to reorganize, and a bunch of creative non-fiction I’ve been brewing.
While it’s true that I could achieve any one of these goals, I can’t do all of them, and I’m not sure it’s useful to even think about all of them. According to recent research, multi-tasking is counter-productive. Mothering (and teaching and chairing a department) is inherently a multi-task job. And although recent research shows that the female brain is actually better developed to multi-task, I’d rather conform to the stereotype of the absent-minded (male) professor, unaware of mundane everyday realities. I, for one, am tired of “tracking.” I’d rather be pleasantly myopic.
Either way, all of my projects are not going to get done this summer. So I say, let this be the summer that mama works on her book. The dishes can linger in the sink, the cobwebs may not get swept, my daughter won’t get enrolled in tennis lessons until she’s 6 (gasp), and my husband may not walk around in a state of bliss. And heck, maybe my book won’t get published at all. But at least I will have given it my best shot.
I can live with that.