Time. What a wonderfully crazy, sad, stressful, enjoyable, too short, too long element of our lives. Most of us are usually wishing it would speed up, slow down, have more of it, use it better, enjoy it more, and waste it less. I know I feel all of these things, many times all in the same day.
I look back on this summer and it doesn’t seem like it flew by, and yet last night it really hit me that I went from seeing my kids all day, to only a couple hours a day. I get a little more time with Tera because I’m getting her ready and dropping her off after Tom and Zoey are already gone and then as a result of our new daycare arrangements, I’m usually the one taking her to therapies. But then I put Zoey to bed while Tom puts Tera to bed so we get time with each of them. But it’s not enough most nights. Then we’re left with a little time for just the two of us to talk without the chaos of dinner, playing, and bedtimes before we ourselves are ready to collapse into bed. I wish there were more hours in the day, but then I sometimes wonder how we’d make it through.
I thought, as it would seem logical, that I would have more time to write this summer since I wasn’t working. I think I managed two, maybe three posts. I had ideas constantly. There were so many things I was working through as a mom, a wife, and a professional that I wanted to get out, but there always seemed to be something more pressing that needed to be done (or a little face that need kissing or arms that needed hugging, or food, puke, pee or poop that needed cleaning up).
The beginning of the summer was a rough transition for all of us as it was the first time I was home full time with both of them since Zoey had been born. Then there were the preparations for Tera’s surgery and then the surgery and recovery. As soon as she was recovered she started summer school. There were behaviors to work through, sleep training that had to take place, potty training that has forever been going on, and the rest of life that happens. And by mid July, when I was still very tired from Zoey’s constant lack of sleep, Tera’s seemingly little progression on potty training, Zoey’s lack of weight gain, Tera’s ongoing behavior issues, and my inability to ever get to the gym, I was starting to feel very discouraged. Then around early August, Zoey miraculously started sleeping through the night, we bit the bullet at home and had Tera wearing underwear instead of pull-ups and she was doing great, and we got Tera set up with a behavior therapist to help us help her be more successful. I started doing little workouts at home and got to the gym once or twice, and Zoey started eating more of a variety of solids, dropped her bottles, and is drinking from a straw. Progress!
Now we are all getting back into a routine and our time as a family is so much more precious. And limited. We get about two hours with Zoey, sometimes less depending on the night, and a little more with Tera. The problem is that much of that time is spent getting ready for the next day. We eat together, clean up, play for a little while, then start the getting ready for bed process. By the time they are both in bed and we sit down, we have maybe an hour or two before we’re both exhausted and we go to bed and start it all over again the next day. And then of course there are those nights when one or both kids is crabby or overtired and then it seems like the little quality time we do have together, isn’t so quality anymore. But this is life. We are luckier than a lot of people to have the time that we do and while the adage of, “they’re only young once, enjoy this time with them” can be irritating when you’re exhausted, stressed, and barely hanging on, we do try our best to make the most out of our time as a family.
And then there's "me" time, which with my husband's help happens occasionally, but I’m still really working on taking time for myself. This is difficult for many parents, but I know that it will make me a better parent and role model for my daughters. I come from a long line of women who overdo and while I don’t think that is going to stop anytime soon, I can continue to try and overcome the ongoing struggle of trying to balance what’s really important and trying to delegate what’s not.
And what about the days, months, and years that pass in my kids' lives? As so many other parents, I struggle with wanting to freeze time and never forget those precious moments as babies and toddlers (the good ones of course, not the screaming, crying, waking up all the time ones). Zoey is our last baby and I want to enjoy every single cuddle, new tooth that pops up, milestone that she reaches, and new expression or sound that she makes. Especially given the very rough start that she had to her life. But at the same time, I'm so anxious to see what they will accomplish as they get older. Tera has made enormous strides this summer with her vocabulary and we're so incredibly proud of her. So how does one handle wanting to stop time and speed it up? I don't think you can ever reconcile those feelings, you just accept that they're there and live.
So maybe now that I have this beautiful, almost totally screened in room and my favorite seasons are approaching, I can try and force myself to set some time aside to write and enjoy the scenery. I could maybe even, gasp, read before bed! But maybe just one thing at a time (see what I mean about overdoing?).