Over at Parent Bloggers, they're giving away a free ticket to Blogher, along with a new site called Light Iris. Basically they'll choose someone at random from all the people who write a post mulling over the question "Where does my time go?" And that's something I think about a lot. And I like to write. And I would love to be able to go to Blogher, especially since this year's theme is A World of Difference, and I've been thinking a lot about our world community and how to make a difference through writing.
Even as I sit here and write this, I can hear my kids singing to themselves in their bedroom, and I know my writing time is ticking to an end. They will want to get up soon. They will need food, like they always do, the demanding little creatures, and I will sigh and get up and put away my computer and say, cheerily, "What should we have for breakfast today?" And I will dive into a whole other side of myself, the mother part, the one who has eyes everywhere all at once, who speaks kindly and cuts toast up into squares, or fingers, or triangles to make breakfast more fun.
I can't say how many times since I've become a mother (and especially a mother of THREE) that I've wondered how I could get more time in my day. Why, oh why do I only have twenty-four hours? And this aggravating need for sleep? It just doesn't seem possible to take care of three children, keep my part-time job, manage a home, write my novel, paint, and spend time with my husband. And I don't only want to do these things, I want to do them with creativity, with intentionality, with GUSTO.
See what I'm setting myself up for here? Because, of course, the answer is that there ISN'T enough time in a day to do all of these things. Some things need to be laid down gently, smoothed and put away in a drawer, to be taken out at a later date. I have needed to take a few steps back from things I love very dearly, for the sake of everyone around me.
And then there's the quality of time. I wish I could put my time into little boxes, iron it out and box it up and set it out in front of me, little boxes, all in a row. That's what time used to be like for me. I did one thing until I was ready to go onto the next. And as an artist, that often meant painting for hours, maybe all day long. ALL DAY LONG. I honestly can't remember doing anything at all for a full day in the last few years. Now my time is like a tangled pile of yarn, each strand interconnecting with another, and I'm changing a diaper while I talk on the phone, I'm reading a book to my kids while I cook breakfast, my conversations with my beloved Superstar Husband are interspersed with "YaYa, you may not sit on his HEAD!" I'm sure you know this phenomenom well.
And for a visionary type like myself, who likes to do something in order to make a mark on the world every day, it can be discouraging to get to the end of a chain of linked hours and look around in the evening light, realizing that everything I've accomplished in this day will be undone and redone in the next. I will wash the same clothes, I will wipe those same adorable faces, I will pick up the same toys. Some days, I look around and all I can say is, "Well, we had fun."
And it's like my friend, veteran mother of ten, told me once about this mothering vocation: "We're on holy ground." So time actually slinks into the background. I realize that life is not about a neat line of hours, about wrinkle free minutes. We have only a short time with our small children, when, more than anything, our life becomes servanthood. The question for me is how will I give my time? Is it with gritted teeth, looking at the clock, resenting every moment? Or do I toss it in the air and watch it rain down around me, and slosh a big bucket of my time on the garden of my family? Do I lift my face and soak in the light as I wash dishes? Breathe in the scent of clean clothes as I take them off the line? Do I take my beautiful kids and run off to the river for the afternoon?
I've talked here before about calling chores meditations. It is not easy for me. I often look longingly at my new book while I'm sweeping the ever-present pine needles off of my floor. But time is to be given, to be invested in what is important, and time is sunny, and time is sweet. Time if we allow it will transform us into a version of us with more wisdom, more patience, better manners, more generosity. I need time to be a friend to me, rather than an enemy to wrestle.