“I could’ve written the great American novel in my spare time!”
My husband and I joke to ourselves when we think about the years before our son was born. We must’ve had so much spare time back then! What did we do with all that time? Wasted much of it, most likely.
I think of my twenties as the decade of floundering. So much wasted time. I really didn’t know what I was doing. At 26 I went to community college for my Associate’s degree. Then life threw a curveball, and I left NY and moved to NC. I had followed my new husband’s job, but I didn’t know what to do with myself in this unfamiliar town. I remember being alone a lot during the day, sitting on the floor and watching a lot of daytime television on a tiny 12” TV. (All of our stuff was still in a storage unit in NY.) Eventually, after a lot of indecision and bad television, I decided to register for classes at UNC. Two years later, at 32 years old, I graduated with Highest Distinction while four months pregnant. So, at least I didn’t spend the entirety of my childfree days accomplishing nothing. Still, it feels like there was a lot of wasted time back then.
Thirteen months ago, I was wishing I had more time to spend with my son. Between school, therapists, and extracurriculars, it felt like the teachers got more time with my Sweetboy than I did. My son was wishing he could spend less time at school. Third grade was hard for him and his anxiety was rising. Enter the pandemic. We both got our wish for more time together at home.
This year, time has stretched out in this endless limbo of isolated waiting, but simultaneously, I feel like I don’t have any time at all.
For months now, I’ve barely had any time for myself. I spend nearly all day helping my son with his virtual 4th grade work. It has not been easy. He’s autistic, which may be why no one at school realized he also has ADHD. Spending all day doing schoolwork with him opened my eyes to it. He’s got a prescription for Ritalin now, and he’s doing great. I wrote about it here. But, in much the same way I look back over my childfree years and wonder what I did with my time, today I’m looking back at 2019 – before my son’s school went virtual for over a year – and I’m wondering where my time was spent. How well did I manage my time? More to the point – how can I do better when schools reopen next year?
Last month I listened to a podcast where the host was talking about time management. She said that everyone has the same 24 hours. No one gets any more time than anyone else. Time is the great equalizer. It’s what you do with your 24 hours that matters. Ridiculous, isn’t it? Oh, I forgot to mention that she’s in her twenties and has a cat. No kids. But, sure, we have the same 24 hours.
A common time management tip is to wake up earlier. My brain fog doesn’t clear up until around 7 am even if I wake up earlier than that. Lately my husband has been waking up crazy early because he read somewhere that waking an hour before sunrise makes you much more productive. I don’t know what he’s doing that early in the morning, but I’m all for it since it’s giving me space to sprawl out in bed.
This morning I woke up early though and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I climbed out of bed before 7. I’m still drowsy, so now I’m trying to trick my senses into alertness as I write this. Coffee is a no-brainer. But I’ve also just lit a 3-wick candle from Bath and Body Works. I’ve got several of them. This one is Sunshine & Daffodils. And there’s music playing quietly. This morning it’s early jazz, a lot of Ella Fitzgerald. Sometimes it’s classical music. I also really like vintage French jazz which is great because the music is upbeat and complicated enough to keep me alert, but the words aren’t distracting because I don’t speak French. If I’m already wide awake then I like to write in silence. Also, I open all the curtains to let the morning light in. Fortunately, it’s light out already.
Sunlight tricks our brains into thinking the days are longer. Our time perception gets screwy every time we change the clocks. I find it far easier to be productive in the sunnier months. I shut down after dark. Good luck trying to get me to do anything after dinner during winter. Summer is filled with long-lasting days, yet those months fly by in a flash. I daydream about living somewhere with endless sunshine. The other day I sat on my back porch, meaning to write, but fell asleep with the sun warming my skin, stretched out like a cat. That was a chunk of time that got away from me.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I’ve always wanted the ability to stop time. I don’t even need to travel through time. I simply want to stop time. (Side note – My second favorite desirable superpower is the sonic scream. If I wanted to analyze that desire, I’d say that I want my voice to be heard. To not be ignored. I want my voice to have an impact.) But for sure my #1 choice is stopping time.
I don’t have solutions or clever time hacks to share with you. This is not that blog. This is just a busy mom’s daydream of having more time and wondering where the time went.
If I had more time then I would travel more. I’ve always wanted to drink pina coladas in Key West, to explore Nantucket’s least well-known beaches, and to gaze up at the giant redwoods in California. I would learn to golf. I’ve wanted to golf for years. My one golfing experience was taking Beginner Golf for a required gym credit in college. I remember the swoosh of the golf club when I swung it through the air. I loved that swoosh. But mostly, if I had more time, then I would read all the books and write all the words.
Speaking of writing all the words…
I’ve joined Medium. Medium is a platform where writers can publish their own articles and essays and be paid based on the reading habits of members. (Medium membership is $5/month or $50/year.) Membership fees are distributed proportionately to the writers whom you read. I’ve read some excellent essays there so far. I should probably be reading less and get to writing! Check it out – you can find me at sarah-mcinnes.medium.com
Thanks, Reader, for joining me in this meandering wander through my thoughts.