Owning time


I logged in to WordPress today, only to discover yesterday’s post was my 600th post on this blog. I feel this deserves an exclamation point, however the powers that be discourage writers from using such overwrought expressions of delight. So, I shall refrain from the exclamation, however I will add one or five in my head. I find few things in life capable of keeping my attention and my participation for this length of time, so I consider this a huge victory for quitters everywhere. Something finally stuck. Exclamation point.

Aside from congratulating myself, I wanted to start today with the phrase “This time of year…” because I find all sorts of conundrums and emotional issues surface during the holiday season.

This time of year, my schedule gets hijacked.

Class parties, recitals, one last coffee before the school break, final projects, list making, gift purchasing–these all combine to create a weekly schedule that leaves little time for the things I need or desire to do. I manage to corral my family into showing up where and when they should with mostly clean clothes and somewhat full bellies, but I don’t always manage to surrender to the holiday schedule with grace. CS Lewis calls this “a sense of ownership-in-Time”. I believe my time is my own, that I am the “lawful possessor of twenty-four hours”, and woe to the people who mess with this flawed belief. I find myself crying over having to write in the margins of my day. I grow frustrated when an issue pops up and needs immediate resolution, or I snap at my children when they ask me what’s for dinner. Dinner is whatever I can scrounge from the almost empty fridge before we need to leave the house again this evening, I say in a huff.

My daughter confronts my possessive attitude when she says, I know you like taking care of us, but you don’t really like doing the laundry. Or cooking. Or cleaning up. And after I pull the dagger from my heart, I realize she believes this because I treat these duties as if they are an interruption to my day, an interruption to the time I could spend doing something more interesting than treating a spaghetti sauce stain on her white t-shirt. Can I tell you this wound hurts? No mother wants their child to believe caring for her is another chore to tick off the list, another thing to do before Mom gets to sit down and open the laptop. My own attitude offends me, not to mention my children.

I do not own my time, I am merely a steward of it. If one kid starts going off the rails and I need to squeeze in a chat with a teacher? Steward my time. When another child wants to attend one last dance rehearsal, but it wreaks havoc on my previous plans? Steward my time. When friends want to meet for one final coffee before we all go our separate holiday ways? Steward my time. With grace, with love, with the full knowledge I will wish for these opportunities and moments back after the children move on.

This time of year, twenty-four hours doesn’t seem like enough. But when I stop grasping and start giving, twenty-four hours becomes a gift and not a burden.

Do you struggle with this too? How do you manage your time over the holidays? I’m all ears.