This Time, It’s Weird


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Lately, I’ve been having a

weird relationship with time.

I don’t know if I’ve always had a weird relationship with time or if this is something new I can attribute to the COVID.

I realize my relationship with time is two-fold. I have a relationship with big time – seasons, years, decades. I also have a relationship with small time – mornings, afternoons, evenings, minutes, hours, seconds.

Both are convoluted, evolving and rich.

Sometimes I take small time for granted. Sometimes I ignore it entirely, pretending I’m not affected by the ticking away of the minutes, hours. Sometimes I hold on so tightly my nails get bloody trying to keep it from slipping away.

In my heart, I’m trying to appreciate the smallest details of every single moment.

In my head, there’s often a voice telling me, “hurry UP!”

I try to take small time seriously – but not too seriously. I am usually on time for the things that require on-the-dot punctuality.

COVID has been great for this. When I realize I have to be in a meeting in 8 minutes, I know I have enough time to go to the bathroom, make myself a cup of tea, review my notes, and do some stretches before I log in, right on time.

And something about the recalibration of the pandemic has increased the volume on the part of me that says, “why rush? There’s no need to rush. Take your time.”

I fall into the trap of squeezing tasks out of time when I need to get things done. I love to set a timer, to hurry up my inner sloth and accomplish things. I am notorious about trying to get one more thing accomplished before I rush out the door.

My grip on small time depends on my busy-ness level. Left to my own pacing, I saunter through my moments, working to align my spirit with my attendance — I dither, I notice, I set up my environment. I breathe.

This morning during my daily writing practice, I considered my relationship with big time. I thought about the pace of the last 17 years of my life. Fast, I thought. Really fast.  Fast in the small time and fast in the big time, how could that be?

I examined the last 17 because that’s how long I have been a mother.

The truth is that once you are a mother your time is no longer fully your own.

In varying degrees you are always negotiating the giving of your time, your heart, your ideas, your cognitive processing and your creative energy with a soul who deeply needs those parts of you to become a whole human being.

Once you’re a mother, there’s a part of you always ready to drop everything and tend to the child you’re raising – whether that means picking them up at a sleepover gone wrong, attending to an upset stomach or a skinned knee or a sporadic heartache. The mother-at-attention in you is always ready to leap up and give her time.

If you are a mother of more than one child, you do this on multiple levels, with multiple souls. Wow.

As parents we volunteer this part of ourselves, our spirits, our efforts, our time, so fully we often become unaware that at one moment in our lives, our time had been entirely our own.

Then big time shows up, unexpectedly, and you realize the child who needed rescuing and bandaging and consoling is now managing their own time. They are rounding the bend on independence.

Big time smacks you upside the head and asks, “Where have YOU been?”

This weekend my husband and I were running errands. Since it was Saturday, my day was not dictated by small time concerns like meetings and appointments, I was taking a leisure pace. And he was squarely stuck in the “hurry up!” mindset that makes up his weeks as well.

We were mildly bickering.

As we got in the car after one of our stops, I asked him, “Are we going to get along today or are we going to bicker all day? I’d prefer we get along because then we’ll have fun and enjoy our day.”

I was being sincere. I wanted to know what he felt like.

He paused thoughtfully and looked at me.

“You just move at different pace than I do,” he said. “And I have to remember that is OK.”

“Yes,” I said, acknowledging my slower pace, “you’re right. I’m slow, I know. It doesn’t really matter how fast we get this done.”

I felt his inner timekeeper relax and I knew we were going to enjoy our time bopping around town together.

I think our relationship with time is magical. It’s magical because, like water, it can change its state. One minute there’s something solidly real about it, and simultaneously, there’s something elusively ephemeral about it.

The passing of it gives us perspective and breaks our hearts and inspires us to move. The giving of it expands our awareness and forces us to grow.

The taking of it opens our minds, enriches our hearts and gives us time’s greatest gift of all — awareness.