stolen moments

Life is so incredibly busy these days. I already look at summer’s lazy pace and miss it so much. Everyday is full of things I need to do and things I don’t quite get finished. Planning for class and grading piles of papers. Putting out fires with overwhelmed students in conferences everyday. November is a rush in academics. … Then afternoons and evenings are a blur. Tuesday afternoon ballet. Wednesday speech therapy. Friday afternoon soccer practice. Saturday soccer games. It just never stops.

I try to shield any feelings of chaos from my kids. I might be thinking ahead to what I’m making for dinner and how many minutes it will take or how bad my car needs cleaning or how I’m going to pay that bill. But I don’t want them to feel it. It’s getting to that time of the semester for all of us though, made worse by the early darkness of fall time change. They are tired by the end of the day, too. We are all ready for a break.

UntitledAnd we will get one soon enough. The holidays are around the corner. But then that calls for a little fret and worry and effort on my part as well. I’m hoping to be completely done with Christmas shopping by December 1st so that I can slow down and enjoy the season. But right now, that’s another thing weighing on my daily thoughts.

I miss writing. I miss knitting. I miss reading. I miss leisurely evenings. I miss sweaty miles at the gym. I miss (I admit it) television. I watched a movie last weekend when the kids were gone, and I realized that the last time I watched anything at all was July, and I am not at all kidding or exaggerating. It so rarely happens anymore. I miss moments of mindlessness, moments of doing my own thing and recharging. And then I wonder, to be totally honest, how I will ever find the time to fit someone else in this life when I feel ready for it, how I will ever even find the time to meet someone to begin with, when this is my pace.

I stumbled on this essay by Anne Lamott a few days ago as I was compiling a few things for my composition students. She asks, “what manic or compulsive hours will they give up in trade for the equivalent time to write, or meander? Time is not free—that’s why it’s so precious and worth fighting for. […] I’ve heard it said that every day you need half an hour of quiet time for yourself, or your Self, unless you’re incredibly busy and stressed, in which case you need an hour. I promise you, it is there. Fight tooth and nail to find time, to make it. It is our true wealth, this moment, this hour, this day.” I’m trying hard to find that hour, but in a house with two little kids, a dog, and one adult with a full-time job, it is not an easy thing to find. I manage to have the house quiet (most nights) and the dishes clean by 9:15 or so, but I am so incredibly spent at that time that I can’t give the best of me to whatever I am working on.

I don’t know where I am going with this except to say that I am committed to finding some pocket of time, some stolen moment in my day. I need that time and space to create or think or accomplish something that is only for me. Writing it aloud here holds me accountable. I am determined to find that time and use it well. I’m an introvert in the truest sense, and I have lived long enough in this skin to know that about myself. I need time alone to recharge or I sink quickly. I feel like I am always chasing that moment in my day to exhale and recalibrate. It doesn’t always appear the way I’d like it to.   Untitled

I try to let the little passing moments pierce me with their stillness, even if it’s only for a second. Norah skipping across campus to her classroom. Jude’s intent focus as he draws. A warm bowl of homemade soup eaten among the chaos of a messy kitchen. The flop of my dog’s ear as he rolls from one side to the other in his laziness. But these little glimpses, even strung together, cannot give me the peace or satisfaction of a full hour to myself. I’m determined to find it, wherever it may be hiding.

Moms, (or any other readers who have a full plate everyday) what are your secrets for stealing time? Where does it hide for you? I’m all ears.

9 thoughts on “stolen moments

  1. It is really tough, and I am not a single mom. I think you are doing great. These are such challenging years. Soon enough, they will be a bit older and more independent. (Good and bad) One thing that worked for me, when I had younger kids, was to go to bed fairly early (right after the last was asleep) and get up early. I savored that really quiet time in my house. Still do actually.

    Another thing that really worked for our family was to limit activities to a reasonable number. Some seasons/years that was one per child. And you know what, they all have graduated from, or are enrolled in, college. Successful young adults. None were going to be pro-athletes, actors or ballerinas anyway. The extra stuff should be for fun and enrichment.

    1. I totally agree on curbing the activities. Norah has one (ballet at the end of the school day) and Jude has soccer. But that plus speech therapy (not really an optional thing) already feels like a full plate. 2 more weeks of soccer season, and I’m honestly very glad to see it pass. I think saying no to lots of things – requests and invitations for me included – will help me stay sane. Sometimes a night in to myself feeds me more than a night out with friends, I think.

  2. Honestly the only way I get any time to myself for solitude is to wake up scary early in the morning. I am spent at the end of the day. I am most happy when I roll out of bed at 5 a.m., brew coffee, and read until 6 a.m. It is seriously the only way I can do it. Then I just focus on going to bed soon after the kids are asleep.

    1. I’m really thinking this may the be way it will happen reliably…. as long as Norah stays asleep which is always a gamble. She is an early bird. (Like sometimes prior to 6am early bird!) But at least half the time, this could work.

      1. I have to be very sneaky. Persy likes to be up at the crack of down, but she will usually be sleepy enough to watch a little TV and eat a bit of breakfast before she goes batty.

        1. This was always my strategy. If a kid (or heavens forbid more than 1) got up during my designated early morning me time, I had them breakfast and turn on the TV.
          It is hard though to use morning time consistently if you have an early riser.

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