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April 21, 2013

Where does time go?

I don't recall when it happened.  It must have been a gradual shift.  Time used to be on my side.  There was an abundance of it.  Time for television as a kid when my homework was done, time to talk to high school friends on the home phone (until I feared that my dad might be calling from work because we had no call waiting), time to shop for new clothes after work before I was married, and time to relax or nap while the baby was napping. 

Of course there were days when time was cruel . . . fighting to keep my eyes open while holding down the fort during a late night babysitting gig in junior high.  If there was nothing on television and I would be too embarrassed to be woken up, every minute squeaked by at an alarmingly slow pace.  Years later, I recall anxiously waiting for the phone call from a guy in college while time stood still.  When I counted the months until I could afford to move out of my parents house after college, time was as slow as Friday traffic. 

Today that has all changed.  I am constantly racing the clock.  The list of tasks I hope to accomplish on any given day grows and grows with no end in sight.  My notebook assists me in tracking everything I need to get done, and I recently began dividing the page into multiple columns just to fit it all on one sheet.

It seems the more pressed for time I am the more direction I have.  If my schedule permits some freedom, I waiver- unable to commit to any one objective.  Choices about which errand to run first, or whether laundry should take precedence over groceries interferes with progress.  It boggles my mind and frustrates me to no end.  Of course, that situation rarely presents itself.  Instead I plow forward and feel time slip away as I attempt to squeeze more and more from each available minute.  At the end of the day, I constantly feel like I've come up short, like I've spent time unwisely.  Like I've failed.  There must be some part of the day that I could have used more intelligently.  Coach would prefer I take the 'glass is half full' approach and focus more on what I DID accomplish.  Trust me, I do have those days - where so much gets done, and everything falls into place.  I just need more of them.

Lately I have noticed that I start to come unglued if all my hopes for a block of time come crashing down as quickly as a Lego tower constructed by Reggie and Curly.  Freakishly last week, almost all of our after school activities were cancelled.  Mini's Irish dancing class was the sole scheduled activity as I received email after email that everything else would need to be set aside due to the intense rainfall our area received.  The stress of needing to be in three places at once on a night when Coach wouldn't be home to help drive kids and pick them up was released just as quick as you could say 'major rainfall.'  I whipped out my mixer and baked and froze a batch of cookies that I needed to make for Sunday.

Looking back, my big mistake was expecting my offspring to feel my sense of urgency in correctly utilizing this unexpected gift of time.  I promised them a movie night if they helped get the house cleaned up (anything is an improvement around here), and finished their homework before dinner. 

I had a vision.  That vision included a sparkling house, bathed children, dinner that served and cleaned up after itself (it did practically cook itself because I started my crock pot that morning), discipline that would prove unnecessary, laundry that landed effortlessly in correct drawers, Eddie's closet sorted out (this would be a true and amazing miracle), an Irish dancing carpool that made every green light, and a 'to do' list with very few items remaining.  Ah, dare to dream. 

Well, dream I did . . . but I ended up with a nightmare.  When I noticed the clock was closing in on bed time and no movie was being played yet, I started to panic.  I couldn't deliver a movie to them when the house was still a disaster, could I?  How could I start a movie this late?  Where did the damn time go?  I was supposed to have time to spare.  Then I snapped, and my mommy melt down heated up and erupted.  I screamed, stamped my foot, shouted orders, and pointed out all that didn't get done.  It was not pretty.  A few kids were scrambling to do something to please me, and the other kids were arguing that the house looked fine and homework was done - translation:  'Turn on the movie you promised, you mean old cow!'

I don't know how to describe it, but there is literally never enough hours in a day - 24, who ever came up with that number?  It isn't enough for me.  I race around like a lunatic so that I can get it all done, so that I can finally relax.  I don't know who I am kidding.  No matter how close I get to 'getting it all done' relaxing isn't in the cards for me.  There is always a new day dawning - usually too early for me to face - and that just means more to get done.

I did put on a movie.  I did let them stay up later than they should have.  They weren't thrilled with my movie choice, but it was an educational Peanuts movie about American inventors, etc.  It was due back at the library, so it made sense to me that they watch it.  I shared the fact with them that none of them were in any position to pick the movie since no one really stood out as a major helper.  I spent the remainder of the night working alongside Eddie, who insisted his closet was 'done.'  The only think that was done, was that the mound of clothes that could fill the washing machine three times was removed from the closet floor and stuck back on various closet shelves.  No folding involved.  What?  The garbage that littered his side of the room, and under his bed had not been addressed.  Very little had been eliminated.  Eddie is in the unfortunate position (or fortunate depending on how you look at it) of inheriting a ton of clothes from our friends with twin sons, and most boy cousins (my sisters started mass producing girl babies as soon as I stepped in and started reproducing the male variety - so we have a plethora of boy hand me downs.  Laddie was always bigger than their youngest boys, so I buy him clothes and then the hand me downs get thrown into the mix).  My night, that seemed so free, was dedicated to determining which clothes needed to be washed (yes, he stores dirty clothes on the shelves and the clean stacks that are placed on his bed he pushes to the floor.  This makes for a very confusing laundry dilemma), donated, handed down to Tetonka, or folded and placed on a shelf.  My need to accomplish something was almost as great as his need to kick back and relax.  I won, but it was a well fought battle complete with muttering under breath, begging to be done, and denial about the definition of an organized closet.

It was so much easier when I fell asleep during the graveyard shift of the babysitting job, when the college boy didn't call, and when I could barely afford to eat because I was scraping to pay my mortgage bill.  At least then, time was still on my side. 

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