Sunday, February 17, 2008

Time Redefined

I’m not sure how you people do it.

After over eighteen years of being a stay-at-home mother, the transition to working mother is humbling! I am struggling with how to lop ten hours out of my day and still have time to do all the things that need to be done.

I know that I will get it figured out.

And, for the most part, I am enjoying the process of figuring it out.

It’s just…
It feels as though I am sprinting while everyone else is on a Sunday stroll, and yet, I am falling farther and farther behind.

The first thing to go has been my “me time”.
Coffee dates with friends are a thing of the past. Now, when I drink coffee, I drink it alone. Often, I get so absorbed in work that by the time I am ready to drink my coffee, it is no longer hot.
Meeting for lunch. Gone. Lunch is a half an hour broken into five or ten minute increments during which I exchange the cold sludge in my mug for hot coffee or dash to the locksmith to get a copy of the front door key made so my children can get in the house without climbing over the back gate.
These “sacrifices” came as no surprise, but, I miss these times with my friends.

I tried exchanging lunch dates for dinner dates on the nights my children are with their father, but that hasn’t worked out so well. I’m an eight-hour a night kind of girl which means that if I’m not ready for bed by nine or ten, I’m wearing sandpaper eyelids for the next two days.

The “me time” thing I am missing the most is my four-plus day a week yoga routine that has dwindled to one class a week.

I miss yoga, and yet, I have consciously chosen not to go. I just cannot justify it to myself nor can I justify it to my children. I feel as though I am already away from them too much. Choosing to be at yoga for two hours rather than with my children just is not an option. Missing yoga is preferable to missing my children.

It was fine to leave my children at home and go off to do my own thing, when I spent time in their schools and I taxied them to and from practices and appointments and I molded my life to fit into theirs.
Now though, I am asking my children to adjust their lives to mine. They get up earlier, eat dinner later and spend the time in between being spectacularly independent.

When I worked from home, our time together was plentiful. I could, for the most part, be completely available to them whenever they needed me to be. I did the daily school drop-offs and pick-ups. I was available after school for homework help and snack making. I attended every single game, meet and performance.
I loved having that kind of time with my children. I loved it, but I’m afraid that I was also careless with it. In the back of my mind, I gave myself permission to miss moments because I knew that another one would be coming along right behind it and I could just grab that one.

Since starting work, I have not made it to a single of my daughter’s games. Homework help happens long after the time that heads should be filled with sweet dreams rather than questions about book reports and thesis statements.
The moments that took for granted are no longer a given. Accidental togetherness is rare.

And so, I have had to redefine “me time”.

Me time is now the precious moments that I get to spend with my children not away from them.
Adult time. That now happens at work.
My chores get done when the children are with their father. My children do their chores when I am at work.
Blogging happens in the time left over, meaning daily posts and jaunts through the blogoshpere are mere memories.

Keeping all these balls in the air is hard and the learning curve is steep.

I bow to all of the women who have managed to do this with such dignity and grace.
Thank you for proving to me that it is possible.


Carrie Wilson Link said...

I bow to you.


Wanda said...

Sometimes reality bites. But...sometimes reality bites are all we have.

Dianne said...

it is the hardest balancing act on the planet! and there's not training for it - you just need to keep on and new ways to manage will reveal themselves.

one idea - is there a yoga class you could take with your kids? or a tape you could all follow at home?

you do need to continue to care for you too. that is the biggest mistake I made as a single Mom working 2 or 3 jobs.

Nancy said...

I was just discussing this topic with my daughter; the Hunter & Gatherer and how muddy the water is when we need to be both. There is no perfect solution and it is just plain hard!

I have sacrificed "me time" for so long that I am forgetting who I am. It sounds to me that you have one thing clear and that is not letting this new marathon steal away the most important things.

You will find balance.

meggie said...

I liked your thought, that you could 'miss moments because another would be along in a minute'.
We have to learn to catch those moments, & hold them close.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I wish I could tell you that it gets easier but I'm not sure it does, unless getting used to the changes counts.

But your time with your children does seem more intense and magical when it can no longer be taken for granted.

You are a particularly graceful person, though, so I know that you will keep all those balls in the air in the best possible way for all of you.

To wish you good luck does not begin to express my thoughts and wishes for you.

Molly said...

You have all the parts so well thought I'm sure you'll eventually find a balance. Like Carrie "I bow to you --deeply!" Not sure I could have done it AND kept my sanity....

Kapuananiokalaniakea said...

Thank you.

Yes, reality bites.

Yes, self care is important. Sometimes I feel as though I am hanging on by my toenails waiting for Thursday night when my children have dinner with their father and I have a moment to stare blankly at the ceiling and breathe.

Seeing the world from the other side sure looks a lot different than I thought it would.

That has been the silver lining, the confirmation that the moments are what matter and the realization that I need to cherish them because, in the end, there is no past, there is no future, there is only this moment.

I think once I learn the steps to this new routine, the dance will be easier and grace will prevail. Until then, I'm hoping my children are enjoying a little slapstick.

Sanity? I lost that along with all my marbles. I'm finding that I don't miss it that much.

Karen said...

I am not one of the people who does it, so like you I do not know, but I suspect that doing it requires not knowing how.

Michelle O'Neil said...

You are such a good mom.

When my kids drive me batty today I will remember this post and hug them tight.

Molly said...

We're missing you----are you sure you couldn't sneak in an occasional post? of course your reasons are beyond reproach....

Nancy said...

Hoping you are coping with your new schedule! I miss reading your brilliant words! Keeping you in my thoughts.

Amber said...

Boy, this gives me something to think about. It is good and important to get this truth. As I get ready to finish school, and then know that after that comes work. And I always have this fear that it may be too hard for me to give up the things I would have to give up...and people say, 'oh well, people do it all the time!', like I am silly, or even lazy. And that is NOT it.

So thank you for being real.

I also bow to you. I wish you peace and balance. ;)

ox :)