Sunday, June 5, 2011

Not Enough Time

Will there ever be enough time to do all the things I need to do? Forget all the things I want to do. I’ve given up on that until the kids are out of the nest -- or at least the first two are gone. Maybe in retirement? Maybe when I’m in “the home”? If only I didn’t need rest! If I could stay up into the wee hours like Martha Stewart reportedly does, only sleeping a few hours, I’d have that additional discretionary block of time. I keep thinking (silly me!) that I can work once the kids are in bed…I’m clearly stuck in the past when they were small. Now that time is 10:00 pm, at least for my oldest. Hello, I’m catatonic by then -- no brain cells left! Or if I could get up at 4 am and work in the quiet of the early morning. I just don’t have the energy. Sometimes family life sucks all the oxygen out of my day and it feels very unproductive.

Then perhaps I’m too much of a perfectionist and feel that it’s not okay to not accomplish something, or many things, in one day. Perhaps there’s wee a bit of compulsiveness in that as well? The need to achieve, complete, check items off the list. Yeah, just a bit compulsive. Underlying these two negative labels is, I think, the real issue: control. Didn’t I write a blog on having an “off year”? How about an off day? I’m the first one to disparage the American tendency to overwork, stemming from our hardworking frontier spirit.  It fit frontier life; it doesn’t fit our cushy 21st century/Information Age life, yet I’m the last one to practice what I preach. What a hypocrite. I still want to be in control.

My seven-year old is crashed out on the club chair in the next room, worn out from fatigue of a sleepover with a friend. Yet he seems even farther away. I question whether I’ve been too busy for him lately. I think that gut instinct is usually correct. My tendency is to beat myself up and feel overwhelmed with questions of how to change. I know intellectually that a more effective means to better the situation is o examine little ways – do-able steps -- to change so he can have the time from me that he needs…and I still can have time for myself and my work.

I truly wish parenting and housekeeping had a formula that could be followed so that we could function on autopilot, not having to reevaluate situations on a daily basis. All rules and responses could fit for every situation and every child. Would that be so much simpler? At least for me. Of course, that would make everyone else’s life a living hell…and it really wouldn’t work for me either because of the lovely theory of chaos. This was prevalent all through Michael Crighton’s fabulous novel Jurassic Park (the book was infinitely better than the film) and highlighted how chaos theory actually pervades our existence. Nothing is totally predictable, not the least of which is the weather. Any variable can jump in and upset the balance. Of course, the mathematics behind it has a complex and supposedly explainable pattern but I’ll never understand it and I’m guessing neither will most of us. Things will still feel chaotic and disconcertingly unpredictable.

I can’t totally wrap my mind around that theory and accept it in practical reality when I live in a culture that places so much emphasis on getting what you want when you want it. What a clash of philosophies: the reality of not being able to control everything and practicing acceptance and living in a world of repeated attempts to “control your destiny”.

Time to take a look at step one again.

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