A-Tisket, A-Tasket... I Cannot Multitask It

11/18/2012 06:06 pm ET | Updated Jan 17, 2013

Perhaps this ability to split attention into execution of several doable tasks depends on the way your brain is wired.

Or the astrological sign at the time and place of your birth.

Or whether you were weaned too early from breast or bottle. Whatever.

I know for a fact that my animal companion, Muffie, was taken from her mom's teat before she was ready to give up sucking for chewing. Her behavior in so entrained that 12 years later, she single-mindedly goes through her morning ritual of nursing on a T-shirt used specifically to simulate her unbreakable earliest pattern of snuggling up to receive nourishment from mommy. Truth be told, I -- as substitute parent -- enjoy the ritual perhaps more than she. Set for life in her kitty-wise ways, she decided that this is the only time she will allow herself to be cuddled/caressed. Satisfied, we then go our independent ways.

Could there be a better example of single minded focus? A case for concentration?


Could this be one possible explanation for my choice to follow a creative career in the arts and let my kids get so much attention from nannies and chicken soup moms of their friends? I chose, in my available moments, to try to practice and instill principles of higher wisdom at an age when all they wanted (perhaps needed) was cookies and a hug!

Today I spoke to my son, who reached adulthood decades ago and is only now beginning to accept some of his mother's weird ideas as worthy of consideration. Matter of fact, when I reacted to one off his smarty-pants remarks by pointing out that I would not be around for consultation forever (a little Jewish guilt never hurt), he called me "Swami Mommy." I like to think that's a compliment.

When did accomplishing multiple tasks simultaneously become such a sought-after skill? In times within the memory of many, the feminist movement of the 70s freed women to take on more fulfilling and time consuming work at not-yet-equal pay. Replaced by washing machines, vacuum cleaners and hired help, perhaps the newly-liberated woman found more meaning pounding a typewriter while pursuing and ensuring her opportunity to crash through the glass ceiling. Men, for the most part, enjoyed the benefits of another paycheck. In return, daddy learned to change diapers. I, for one found the office a happy hunting ground with virtually no responsibility beyond self-satisfaction.

Divorce rates soared, mine included.

Aside from perhaps a few impossibly perfect people who enjoy flawless relationships with their parents, partners and offspring, we are impelled to grow through courage in facing adverse conditions.

It is said (clearly I am speaking from experience) that we learn little inside our comfort zones. Complacency frequently evolves into boredom, stagnation, and forever unexplored opportunity. Better to have failed than never to have ventured forth into the unknown!

Situations and people whom we perceive to be our most difficult problems turn out, frequently, in hindsight, to have been our most profound teachers.

The holy grail is available to those who pursue their dream, whether it is to acquire worldly recognition, better the lives of others or live according to god's highest purpose.

The reality is that no one can slay dragons, attend parents' night, and write the great American novel all at once.

I gave my best effort toward doing one major thing at a time to the very limit of my ability.
Would I do differently if offered a do-over? Of course not!