In 32 Seconds Your Life Can Change

Multi-tasking isn’t such a big deal. Women have been doing it since Eve.

American women have finessed it to an art form.

American women with children have attained the pinnacle of its supremacy.

She may look wise, but she doesn’t know her future, or yours. Photo credit Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

Most of this multi-tasking is mental, in that while you’re washing the dishes and refereeing an argument at the breakfast table, you’re thinking, “I’ll get those bills paid later this morning, after starting a load of laundry. A couple birthdays coming up — I’d better get some ideas going. Oops — smells like someone needs to be changed.”

If you’re working outside the home, the dishes, laundry, bills, birthdays and arguments will be waiting for you in the evening, not to mention the person who needs to be changed, although it is sincerely hoped that this particular afternoon project was cared for.

Rarely are you living precisely in the present, and the more children in the house and the younger they are, the more tasks there are to process. Before you know it, ten years have gone by, many of those children have driver’s licenses, and you’ve developed this distressing habit of living in the future. Now, in addition to the bills, laundry, dishes, birthdays — but not necessarily diaper changing — you think,

“Everyone’s growing up. Soon we’ll be all alone. How will I deal with this?”

Are you there yet? I am.

Popularly, it’s called Empty Nest Syndrome; supposedly, women worldwide welcome this liberation from the noise and chaos of children in the house;  in real life, I suspect most people hate it as much as I do.

It’s not that long ago that I held the mother in this painting in my arms. Madonna and Toddler by Steve Henderson.

But one thing it’s teaching me, before it’s too late, is to stop mentally multi-tasking and force myself to be in the present, full time, fully engaged, and without a thought to the future, because none of us know, or can control, what happens within the next 32 seconds, much less five minutes, week, months, or years from now.

By the time you finish this article, your life could have radically changed — and you may not even know it. Good or bad, often in between, life’s circumstances happen continuously. This hit me between the eyes when The Norwegian Artist and I were discussing Small One, our granddaughter, and her upcoming fourth birthday.

“I wonder what she’ll be like when she’s 17?” the Norwegian mused.

How could we possibly know? I thought. And if we can’t foresee 13 years into the future, why do we live our lives as if we could? Year after year of moving from one project to the next, planning out two chores ahead while I’m in the midst of another one, has trained me to never stop and fully be in the present, a significant chunk of which is now in the past. And looking backwards, I don’t remember the laundry, the dishes, the bills, the chores — I remember the people, many of whom are still in my life today, just not the way they were 10 years ago.

Yesterday, I sat on the porch, soaking up the sun, with a kitty on my left, my knitting in my lap, and Tired of Being Youngest to my right. Initially, my thoughts raced on about TBY and how quickly she was growing, and how quickly she would be gone. I assure you, that’s a good way to turn a sunny day into a dark one.

So I stopped. Pet the cat (she’s long haired, and has dreadful mats), put down my knitting, and turned to Tired of Being Youngest.

“Do you want me to help you study for your quiz?” I asked.

How often do we take time to simply soak up the sunshine? Eyrie, limited edition print by Steve Henderson

She looked up, surprised. Usually I’m too busy to do this kind of stuff.

“You bet!”

For 45 minutes, we companionably discussed the different kinds of fruit — melons, pomes, berries, pitted — and gently chatted and laughed.

I don’t know where she, or I, will be 3 years from now, or 3 months from now, or 32 seconds from now, but that afternoon, we were together — and I was there, in the present, soaking up each moment as my skin soaked up the sun.

It was warm and delicious.

 This post is linked to Next Generation Homeschool, Holistic Squid, My Cultured Palate, Katherine’s Corner, Wholehearted Home, Next Generation Homeschool, Mama Bzz, Hope in Every Season, Thank Your Body, Gnowfglins, Leaving a Legacy, Little House in the SuburbsSmall Footprint Family, Our Heritage of Health, Fresh Bites Friday, Happy and Blessed Home, Life as We Know It, The Chicken Chick, Butter Believer, The Prairie Homestead, Nourishing Joy, Real Food Forager, Healthy Roots Happy Soul, Adventures of a DIY Mom, Granny’s Vital Vittles, Deep Roots at Home, Raising Homemakers, Our Simple Farm, The Christian Home Magazine


6 Responses

  1. Virginia Davidson

    Thank you, Carolyn, for such a delightfully framed reminder! After all, “now” is the only time we have any power over…so it behooves us to be present and intentional about how we live in the “now”! When we do, the future–as it becomes “now”–will take care of itself…and as “now” becomes part of the past, the cumulative history will just be getting better and better…or so it seems to me! 🙂

    1. Spot on, Virginia — it’s an extraordinarily simple concept, and like most simple things, is remarkably difficult to get a handle on! It also goes against the grain of our society, and since our society is so ingrained in us as to seem “normal,” it’s even more of a challenge.

      But I’m a trying it!

  2. It is so easy to get caught up in our busyness and miss the reason for everything. I’m a housewife and my children are my top priority – I say – but do my actions follow?

    A very well written reminder to cherish the moment of now.

    1. Elisabeth == so right you are — so very easy to get caught up in all of the busyness, because it is a “virtue” that our society extols, puts forth, and insists upon. If you’re not busy, we are led to believe, then you’re not doing anything.

      I knew a man once whose chronic answer to the question, “How are you?” was a deep sigh and the word, “Busy.” He acted as if it were such a tough thing, but the listener definitely got the impression that he thought he was impressive indeed, because he was so very, very busy. After the first three years of hearing this answer to the question, I realized that, not only was he not going to change, he didn’t want to.

  3. Well, said! Being in the moment is the best place to be. Time is so precious, we need to take full advantage of what we can never get back again. Thank you for linking up at Leaving A Legacy.


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