I remember the times when I had time.
I had days with endless hours to fill and I would waste them on stretches of television and long conversations on the phone. I remember reading a book from beginning to end without pausing for more than a trip to the bathroom and perhaps a bite or two of an apple.
There were nights when I called up a friend asking what she wanted to do and we would contemplate where to go and who to hang out with. Maybe we could go see a movie or simply drive around.
Mornings were to be spent in bed, slumbering away after a late night out and my feet didn’t hit the floor until sometime in the afternoon—unless I had work or school. Days off meant waking on my own schedule and shuffling into a quiet kitchen for toast.
I remember reading magazines and the newspaper while drinking expensive coffee with rich, flavored cream. Time was something I had plenty of and wasting it was easy. I remember being bored.
And then I became a mom.
Time was now a commodity. Suddenly hours became like minutes, filled with changing diapers and nighttime feedings. Sleep was fleeting, perforated with cries for me to shoo away scary dreams, or to clean up puke in the middle of the night. I soon spent my days in anticipation for that lovely chance to lay my head back down on the pillow.
Sometimes a tiny body—occupying a large amount of space despite its size—would find its way into my bed for reassurance.
I had a natural alarm clock that woke me often before dawn and slow mornings transformed to quick and hurried ones. I canceled the subscription to the newspaper that now stacked up on the table and poured skim milk into my grocery store brand, pre-ground coffee. (which was rarely warm by the time I drank it)
I learned to shower quickly and shave efficiently—skipping areas that could wait. I became skilled at multi-tasking and at times felt like I had grown extra arms.
In the hours after work I squeezed in laundry and half-done chores along with bursts of play and story before bed time. Weekends were now spotted with trips to the library and apple picking while nights ended early by falling asleep in a child’s bed or in front of the TV on the couch.
Books were read in pages somewhere between dinner and bedtimes and rarely finished.
Social occasions with friends have become Facebook messages and emails. Promises of getting together for a proper cup of coffee or lunch punctuate these notes and we end them with phrases like talk soon and take care of yourself!
In these hectic, mixed-up days, I sometimes crave just a second or two to have for just myself. I sense a tiny fire of irritation smoldering. Why can’t I have just a few minutes to read or write or even just be? It seems like from the time my feet hit the floor until the point where they find their way back into my bed I am either acting or reacting and I just can’t even have a second to think—just a block of sweet time to think.
It’s nights like these when I feel like just maybe I will explode into many pieces that scatter on the ground and I will no longer worry about filling, finding, using up, spending or wasting time.
And then I realize how fast it all slips by. I see there is no use in worrying about what to do with my time or how to spend it because it is always ticking away and in continuous motion. There is no pause.
I know before long I will be reminiscing about the days when I never had a moment to myself and always had something to do. I know before long my bed will be empty all the time and I will be wishing I had middle of the night cuddles from tiny bodies that take up far too much room. I will remember fondly having the power to shoo away the bad dreams.
I know that time will once again be something I have too much of.
So for now I will enjoy the quiet breaks during dog walks and steal seconds in the morning before anyone wakes. I will tread slowly throughout my day and breathe in the fresh air while noticing how the wind blows through the trees. I will close my eyes and pause before bed and be thankful for what I have and relish the chaos. I will surrender the idea of having any control over time.
Because time doesn’t wait.
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Ed: Sara Crolick