I’m writing this month about atoning for my mistakes and trying to make some changes. Last week I wrote about being invested in work in ways with which I’m not quite satisfied, and the week before about being invested in meal preparations in ways that I don’t think are wise or useful. This week I write about time.
It took me a while to figure out when my kids were younger that I didn’t much like acting 3 again, or 7, or 11, or 15. Actually, THAT part I figured out right away; the part about how I had a right to act my own age unless I personally felt otherwise inclined was the part that took me a while. I remember calling my mother when my daughter was three (and coercing me into playing with her) to ask, “Mom, do I seriously have to get down on the floor and crawl around to play with her?” “No. You don’t,” my mom said. Whew! I had about had it at this point with being manipulated by my pre-schooler into engaging in her various activities when I had things I needed to do for me. Things like sit up. In a chair. Read. Write a paper. Work on a children’s play I was directing. After that, I’ve struggled at various times to know when to get on my children’s level, when to invite them to mine, and when to hang out at my level by myself, no kids invited. For the last several years though I’ve had a pretty good sense of that. This sense has been facilitated by the fact that my kids are teens, but I did try to make it a regular pattern even earlier on to not hang my sense of feeling like a good mom on whether or not I was willing to go to the stinkin’ dairy plant or recycling center field trip, for god’s sake, or whether I was willing to play make believe, again.
So when other women write about really struggling to find their own sense of space and time in light of their children’s needs, I don’t know that I have a lot in common with them. But I do struggle with time in other ways. It took me a while to even sit down to watch TV (“Video On Demand” or the last season’s episodes of a handful of shows that are now out on DVD) and embrace activity that didn’t require movement or work. I do watch TV now and don’t mind its propensity for putting my life on a tiny hiatus while I slip away into some world of televised fiction. Other than TV, what I don’t do well or maybe what I don’t do enough, is break away. Either physically break away and get out into some low key recreation and/or relaxation, or psychologically break away. My clue that I don’t do this enough emerges when I’m watching some show and there’s this serene scene where someone is looking out at a beautiful mountain, or sitting peacefully by a still lake, or floating on a raft somewhere with their eyes closed and no plan to open them soon. And I find myself suffused by such longing that my eyes nearly fill with tears. This is a sign that I need to get me some of that, wherever I can find it. And I need some of that with my kids and without my kids; we need some down time together, and we need me to have some down time of my own. That I, and we, have so little of this doesn’t bode well for strong familial relations.
Also I need to give myself time to put together a breakfast for myself, and a lunch for myself. As I write this it seems so pathetic—really? You don’t deserve to have 67% of your daily meals? I mean dinner, that’s easy, because I can feed everyone else too so that one I manage to put some energy into. But if I’m the one needing my own meal that’s, what—different? So then I end up not eating the way I prefer to, not the way that helps me feel good and good about myself. This pattern is not wise. Unwise for me, unwise for my fam. I am now on day 20 of doing things differently on this breakfast/lunch thing (started January 1), but it’ll take more than that to break a destructive pattern.
So I’m trying to think more about my time, about how to grant myself more of the kind I need, about how to infuse my life with downtime, whether that’s taking breaks at work to play online, or getting “less heady and more body” at home, or getting outside. Even if just to breathe.
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