So little, so much

We’re almost a month into the school year and I feel as though all I did was blink. Could we really be approaching the end of September? The weeks are rolling by like the fields and forests on a cross-country road-trip, you know you are passing through but you basically only get a glimpse.

I wish it would slow down.

I wish I could slow down.

The reality is we really are only living—day in and day out, there seems to be so so much happening and yet we’re just doing the same thing over and over.  Aside from being unsually busy at work, our days are filled with the comfortable rhythmns of a normal routine. I wake at 5:15, drop the kids at child care by 6:15, and I’m sitting at my desk by 7:00, sometimes earlier if my dad takes the boys for me. I dive into my work and hardly come up for a breath of fresh air until it’s time to make the return trip and start the evening routine of dinner, play, lunches to be made, tidying to be done and then maybe an hour or two to sit, read, watch tv.

The free time I crave has been in short supply over the past few weeks, and I don’t imagine it will get any better, particularly with the holiday season around the corner. As the boys grow and mature I can feel a new fervour coming over our lives and soon our schedules will be entirely theirs, our evenings no longer our own to direct. The boys are young, only five and two and a half and for now we have few extra-curricular activities, in fact only swimming lessons which are non-negotiable. As the pace of life has sped up this September and begun to blur along the edges, I wonder how I’ll ever manage when our evenings begin to be consumed with the comings and goings of two busy boys.

This is the part of parenthood I struggle with—the busyness, the constant activity, the scarcity of downtime no matter how hard I work to protect it. It’s not so much that I need quiet as I need time to just sit, read, write and reflect.

I want to raise children who appreciate the value of rest, who are comfortable with large chunks of downtime to just be together. So how to do that when life, even at its most bare and essential is so busy and committed?

I wrote this post as part of Heather at The Extraordinary-Ordinary’s Just Write exercise. Head on over if you want to learn and read more!

 

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22 thoughts on “So little, so much

  1. Bridget says:

    “…our evenings no longer our own to direct.” <—I will be sad to see those days go. My oldest is almost 7 and we still don't do a lot of extra-curricular stuff.

    I need time to sit, read, write, and reflect, too. I feel like even when I do have a spare moment, all I want to do lately is sleep. And then I feel like I've wasted my time. Which is crazy, but I digress…

  2. Feeling the same way–where on Earth did September go? It flew. I just realized yesterday that Miss M’s birthday is in a week and I haven’t gotten ONE single gift yet. I thought I had at least three weeks left until I had to think about it…#badmom

  3. I really don’t know how working moms do it. I admire and respect you so much for what you do. I mean, we ALL do a lot, but I just can’t imagine juggling those two particular lives. Mine are bound together in one place and that simplifies things while it has its own set of hurdles. And all the busyness, for any of us, really does make it all go too fast.

    Over here, the weekends are for that time to just hang out together. But even then, there’s a to-do list because it’s the only time we can do certain things. I know you know what I mean…

    and I crave that time for myself, too. I think we innately NEED it. Someday we’ll get more of it, I suppose. In the now? It’s so tricky to accept that it’s not possible most of the time.

    am rambling…

  4. Liz McLennan says:

    Sigh.

    It’s like you crawled into my head – my heart – and have simply poured it onto this page. In two days, my oldest will turn 6 and next week, his brother turns 4 and I can’t help but feel as though I’m missing it.

    I am full-time student these days and often don’t pick the boys up until after 5, when they’re tired and grouchy and hungry. My “plan-ahead” meals are a bit hit and miss, if I’m honest about it and we eat entirely too much pasta because it’s fast and cheap and easy.

    I know that my own childhood was similar, with two working parents, but somehow, my mother’s house was always clean, our meals were from scratch and she always found the time to sit and talk or read with me.

    How did they do it? And if they FELT as chaotic and disorganized as I feel nowadays, however did they manage to hide it from me/us? That was the real gift, I think – that despite the apparent like of time, my mum managed to make it seem as though, for me, she had all the time in the world.

    That then, has become my own goal: to cherish and BE PRESENT in the small pockets of time available to me and my sons. Yesterday, I let them skateboard in the house, just so I could watch and give commentary while cooking supper. This morning, we danced to Justin Bieber while fixing breakfast.

    I hope it’s enough.

  5. Pam @writewrds says:

    I know how you feel. I haven’t even been online lately because the real life commitments have been all consuming. They swallow me whole sometimes and I feel like I don’t exist. Ugh.
    I like Liz’s ideas. I’m all for skateboarding in the house. And dancing.

  6. Christa says:

    I know you are not alone, and not just because I get it and the four women who have commented already get it, too.

    I think this is a societal thing, and that in order for the world to shift in the way it is starting to do, it is all going to have to change.

    And change, as we know, begins at home…

    Thanks for this, Christine – I suspect it will get a lot of us thinking…

  7. Kelly says:

    I just want to press pause and savor …something. I feel like I’m missing everything. The change of season, my baby’s preschool year, my big kid’s last year of elementary, a clean and comfortable home … all of it seems so out of reach right now. Maybe it’s part of the modern human condition?

    • Christine says:

      It’s true, we really do need a pause button. But I’m guessing that writing works that way for us. I bet when we look back, and read the stuff we’ve shared in these spaces, we’ll be so grateful for what we noticed. xo

  8. pamela says:

    We all struggle with this, don’t we? I know I do. The thing with kids though, is if we can be present with them in the time we have – whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour – we are slowing down and teaching them how to slow down and be present too. Or … wait a minute …maybe they are teaching us? Anyway, I hear you loud and clear.

  9. Ellie says:

    Oh, yes. I love the imagery of the landscape rushing by – beautiful and ordinary and whoosh! – it’s gone.

    We never seem to stop, either. I find myself saying “I can’t wait until X happens and then life will settle down a bit!” But, of course, after X comes Y and then Z and then the alphabet starts all over again.

    Maybe time to adjust my expectations?

    But, yes, I crave the downtime, too. This winter I have a goal of enrolling the kids in fewer activities (maybe none? GASP) in the hopes that life feels saner.

    -Ellie

    • Christine says:

      I feel so guilty because I’m not planning to register the kids in anything other than swimming this year. I feel like I should be giving them the opportunity to do more, but something is telling me not to.

  10. I am right there with you. And the crux of this Just Write comes just at the end (and is worth all the words before it): “I want to raise children who appreciate the value of rest, who are comfortable with large chunks of downtime to just be together. So how to do that when life, even at its most bare and essential is so busy and committed?”
    A successful writing exercise if ever there was one. xo

  11. Elaine says:

    We are SO busy right now with soccer and church and school and well, life. A 2nd birthday party for my no-longer-a-baby, baby this weekend. It’s all a blur for sure. Sometimes I wish I could just stop the minutes from passing so fast.

    I get this. I hear you. *deep breaths*

  12. This does seem to be the perpetual dilemma in parenthood, and dare I say it, more frequently for the mothers than the fathers perhaps because our expectations of performance are (ridiculously?) excessive. We want the most for our children at each stage, trying to find the balance of play time and scheduled activities, formalized learning and life experience. We want family time but also need something for ourselves (however little), and frequently, need to earn our keep as well.

    And as you say so eloquently Christine – we want our children to understand the necessity (and humanity) of repose, though all too often we aren’t modeling it ourselves.

    I won’t kid you that it gets any easier ; I will say that when they reach activity age / stage, limiting the number of scheduled activities can be a very helpful approach.

    As for time flying? Yes, indeed, it does.

  13. Amber says:

    I don’t know, love, but I can relate. Painfully, so.

  14. CJ says:

    Family grounding. No one is allowed to go anywhere, do anything or move without permission…..ok, so it sounds good in theory.

  15. oh, I get this. I know you know I do. 🙂

    Just last night I was venting to my husband about how I just don’t have the time to do what makes me feel human and sane — reflecting and writing — because I’m go go go go go nonstop. If the waters are choppy I can’t peer down to the depths. And I don’t have the time to sit long enough for them to still. If there’s a choice, sleep always wins at this point. I’m hurtin for down time, but it doesn’t seem to be coming in this season.

    Here’s to you and me finding a way to create it.

  16. Galit Breen says:

    Yes, this. All of this. I struggle with this part of parenthood, too.

    So I have no solutions or advice or even thoughts on the matter- but I’ll so stand by your side as we wonder what the heck happened to time!

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