On my run last night, which took 47:51, I got to thinking about time; Specifically, where I spend it and who I spend it with. Dissecting an average work day, I see my chicks from 5pm – 9pm. If you count the glimpse I steal of them sleeping in the morning on my way downstairs and the brief encounter I sometimes get with Spike, you can add three extra minutes to that. So, that’s it. A lousy 4 hours and 3 minutes in a 24-hour day. But it gets worse.
More often than not, that’s a high estimate. If it’s a jogging night, we’re talking at least 45 minutes deducted from the already slim pot. A class at the gym? That’s 60 minutes. Girls night out? I’m lucky to get 40 minutes of face time with them. Then I start tallying the cooking, cleaning and shopping, and my soul shatters. How freaking sad is that to think about? And, if I want to further butcher those sweet seconds, I could go crazy analyzing which minutes are actually considered quality time. Time where I am doing my job as a mom rather than assuming the role of the moron multitasking bystander as their childhood playfully roars by without me.
An unfortunate series of events has granted Hank a little extra time at home during the past 7 months. As much as we joke about his temporary turn as a “househusband,” the time has truly been a gift to me. Sharing the daily chores and tasks it takes to keep this place running has given me so many more opportunities to get down and wrestle with our girls. I can chew on Sloppy Joan’s neck and listen to giggles hiss out of her four-toothed mouth, because the laundry was already started. I can do airplane until my legs give out with JoJo, because dinner’s in the works. And I can sit in awe and listen to another imaginative Spike story, because the floors got swept this morning. I’m not saying it’s fun being on the other end of the broomstick, but it has been a huge blessing for the lady of the house.
But it’s ending. In a blink we’ll be back to two full-time working parents, with a child in kindergarten and, again, the hourglass is going to drain like a bottle of Moscato at a Mary Kay party.
I don’t know that there’s an answer or a solve for fleeting time. I’ve long yearned for the chance to go back in history, find the fool who implemented the 5-day work week, and beat him until he cries crocodile tears of regret and begs for my forgiveness, but alas, the gentleman (you know it was a man) eludes me. I’m also quite certain that the grass is greener concept is at play here. If I stayed home with my girls, truth be told, I’d probably end up hunkered down in my closet with an iPad full of Sex and the City seasons, a tapped Bota Box and a can of Reddi-wip, crying while the children beat each other into submission and the basic laws of human decency toppled one by one outside by bunker. I once asked my mother what she liked most about staying home with us kids and she said, “You know, I didn’t. Some people are meant to stay home and some people aren’t. And I wasn’t.” I respect her honesty and, while I think my kids are the most awesome specimens ever grown, I think I might not be one of those people either. Sometimes, you just can’t win.
I always try to make it matter. I want their memories with me to be full of belly laughs, muddy knees and wild adventures. I want to listen and I want to lift them up. I want them to know my eyes, rather than the top of my head or my back. I want more time, but since I can’t have that, I want more of the times you take with you; in your heart, in your dreams, in the stories you tell. Every moment spent is a moment you can’t get back and they’re fleeting at an obnoxious pace. All I can do is breathe it all in, let it fill me up with joy and let my soul’s compass point back to that feeling, that purpose, often and always.