We Have World Enough, and Time (apologies to Andrew Marvell)
Today, I am grateful for a sleepless night.
Yep. I didn’t think I would ever say that either. Not out loud. In a non-sarcastic tone.
Theresa has a bad cold, which began with two days of fever and last night morphed into the “I’m miserable but can’t sleep” phase and led to us being up at least six times vainly trying to soothe the un-soothable: coughing and runny nose.
This morning, I was so tired I could barely see straight. Nicole took Audrey and Jamie to music class and to the park, and I hoped against hope that Theresa would be so tired that we could both take a morning nap.
That didn’t exactly work out. It worked out better.
Without her siblings around to be potential irritants to a spirit already ruffled by illness, she and I had one of the happiest mornings in recent memory. I made falafel batter and ran a load of laundry, but otherwise got to be fully (as fully as my mostly-awake self could muster) present with her. Listening to her constant narration of what she was doing and pretending. Setting up the train set together. Reading books together. Having Abigail Bunny watch me run the food processor from her stroller after TK ran into the other room because she dislikes loud noises, “But Abigail’s not scared; she wants to watch.”
I accomplished two things on my To-Do list. She played by herself mostly while I worked on those things, and then we got to play together. We had a great time.
* * *
I think at least 50% of my conflict with my kids is about time. Probably more.
“Not listening to directions,” “lollygagging,” “asking for ‘one more turn,'” all pretty much fall under this category.
The other giant sources of conflict involve defiance, physical violence, inability to communicate due to Big Feelings, and not being given an option (most are from the kid’s side; occasionally, some are from mine).
All of the stress about time is mine. We’re going to be late. This is taking too long. I said it was time to do x, and we just need to get it done. I need to eat/pee/sleep/etc., and your antics are standing between me and my needs or desires.
The conflicts almost always stem from the perspective of what Brene Brown calls “the culture of scarcity.” There’s not enough time. I’m overwhelmed by All the Things I Have to Do (regardless of how critical or immediate the Things are). I never get enough sleep. I don’t have time to take care of myself or slow down or listen to my kids.
So one of my new mantras is: “We have enough time.”
Because despite the lover’s complaint to his coy mistress, there is world enough, and time.
So what if we’re late? (I hate being late. I hate feeling like I’m sending the message that I’m irresponsible and disrespectful of others’ time. But once I’m already late–why stress about it? I can’t go back in time.)
So what if taking off shoes or putting on pants or unloading the dishwasher or washing hands takes
7 15 25 times longer than it needs to?
So what if we stop to look at the neighbor’s cat or the tulips blooming or do a little tummy swinging before we go inside?
As long as I try to get my own needs met instead of pushing them off in favor of checking something off the To-Do list and then being grumpy later, I think I can start reframing the NeverEnoughTime story.
It’s okay that all of our projects take weeks to accomplish instead of hours. Maybe I could respond to e-mails weekly instead of every other day. The junk drawer will get cleaned out…eventually. When I have more time.
I’m not going to remove all clocks and watches in an effort to ignore time or keep my own time and disregard appointments or obligations. I just want to reduce the stress I put on myself and my family when I feel like there isn’t enough time.
For now, it’s time for bed.
* * *
There is time to: