I thought I might not get to write this post. I think that a lot lately about a variety of my favorite activities. Blogging, Instagramming, snapping photographs and Facebooking has done this amazing thing to my mind. It has shaped how I think and see my world. I routinely find myself composing as I walk through my day- the wording of a thought, the phrasing of a sentence, the composition of the scene in front of me. I think and see in status updates, stories and stills now. I experience my life looking for pieces to share. I hope that perspective never goes away. There is something incredibly normalizing, warm and open in going through my day with the expectation of sharing it. It beats off a sense of isolation that would be so easy to wallow in with our nearest and dearest spread so far from our home. It keeps our circle casually and cozily tucked in our hearts and thoughts on a daily basis.
More times than not, those thoughts and images are all the time I have for myself. Just the sight and thought of what is around or in front of me has to go simply noticed, if undocumented. Little ones and their needs, our house with it’s creaks and groans, the vining of our overgrown yard, my job with it’s people and hours, our laundry, our dishes, our clutter and cuddles, our family and friends; they call to me louder than the voice trying to keep pace in my head most days and nights. By the time the littlest brains under our roof have settled, my brain is just too curdled to form a coherent thought.
I do steal more moments then I probably should to note our lives; judging from the reaction of those most documented. Only the baby grins widely when the camera or my phone comes out any more. Still, I cannot seem to help myself. I am oh, so keenly aware of how quickly these days are passing into weeks, months and seasons. How hurriedly our family has grown out from our nest and into our community. Since Sugarplum has joined us, I find myself scrolling through the video clips and stills of the other girls at her age or stage and wish I had captured more. It’s hard for me to stay a firm line between witnessing and recording the present time. My mind is so milky and tired that if I don’t photograph it or write about it, it didn’t really happen.
Time for myself is something I steal. Two minutes of quiet and stillness. Three minutes to delve further into a thought, four minutes to write a memory, 10 seconds to compose a snap or edit a photograph taken months earlier, 15 minutes to read a chapter on the children’s development, positive discipline or some fictional or memoir-laced story. An uninterrupted moment to finish a full sentence to Lovey. Before I can, another need comes whirling in on top of the one I’m in the midst of. These days and nights with young children; they are demanding in ways you couldn’t even hope to warn another person about. Most days my goal is to just not be angry when my plans go awry and I manage to piecemeal together a new plan.
If this sounds like a complaint- know that it is not. I’m aware there are any number of activities I could take out of my day to make it less complex. But right now, right here- I don’t want to. I love that when it is time to nurse, I get to hold and breathe in my baby. When it’s time to pump I can read a few pages or edit a few images. When I help the Quail get dressed, go potty or practice her oral-motor exercises, I have to sit down on the floor and look into her dear face. When it is just past 7 each morning, I will get 5 minutes alone in the car with Zuzu to ask her who she sat next to at lunch the day before and if she thinks she will get to play outside today. I love that every few weeks there is a small window when the children are cared for and playing that Lovey and I can slip away to dinner for a few minutes of conversation that don’t involve Barney, Cheerios or time-outs. One time a week I drive Zuzu to gymnastics and watch her flip through the air and turn to give me a thumbs up and draw a zipper across her lip. I chuckle over the excited kick-kick-kicks that make up a motionless sprint when the baby sees me filling the bathtub just for her while her sisters rascal and splash in the background. This time around, I smile at the sound of the funny half-laugh, half-cry that Sugarplum animates when she needs to nurse and I lock into her line-of-sight. I even love the widening of eyes that try to slip past me as the child not currently in time-out becomes aware of their sister’s misdeed and contemplates how far to push their own. Fortunately, our social life is filled with swings and sippy cups, goldfish and thickened liquids, slings and nursing covers.
It is a practice though. A practice that needs daily attention to not scream in frustration when the kefir is dumped all over clean hair, jammies and floor tiles. To forgive myself and move on when I didn’t manage not to swear as the baby’s overmilked stomach empties down the front of my shirt and the girls start shrieking over the Netflix remote. It’s a practice to know when to give in to one more hug, one more monster spray, one more time-out versus turning a blind eye. One more tuck in versus standing my ground knowing that if I give in to the bedtime stalling tactics more will follow. It’s a practice to know when to let the almost six-year-old back in bed with me after a nightmare versus offering a sleepy hug and letting her know she was brave to wake up from it and will be fine going back on her own if we just trade snuggle blankets. It’s a practice to answer Zuzu’s questions about why her sister goes to a different school and how the Quail’s friends will know what she means since she doesn’t talk well; without spilling the tears welling up in my eyes and heart at the persistence of her questions. It’s a practice to know when to wake up earlier so the 3-year-old can take the time she needs to dress herself or just let her get extra sleep and insist she let me put the shirt on her over her protests and flurry of signs of, “me, I do, me, no help Momma” because we are running late…again. It’s a practice to know when to just put the pull-up on the potty-trained 3-year-old because I don’t have time to clean the potential mess that would make us even later or maybe this time trust that if we just let her be and keep a smaller potty out along with loose clothes that are easy enough to remove; that she will make the choice to only do so when she has to go potty and not when company is over…again. It’s a practice to know when to say yes to the tear-filled requests to pack her own lunch each day versus the agreed upon once-a-week so that she can sit down right away with her new best friend in the lunchbox group. It’s a practice to know when to go back in the house each weekday morning for one more toy, coat, drink, hairclip straw, pump part, kiss or the coffee mug abandoned in the kitchen.
It’s a practice to carve out bits of time from the day for each person in our family that doesn’t leave someone else or myself behind. It’s a daily practice to not wish away the time we have for time to cook from the supposed art of simple cooking, to take a walk or plant a garden or roast the vegetables and chicken or stir the risotto on a weekday. To surf the blogosphere or write a daily post. To edit the pictures from the fabulous birthday parties or play and dinner dates we were fortunate enough to take part in.
The time will come too soon I think, that I will have time for myself.
Corner view is a weekly Wednesday date hosted originally hosted by Jane, currently by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it in photographic or writerly in form from around the world: Jane, Dana, Bonny, Joyce, Ian, Francesca, Theresa, Cate, Kasia, Otli, Trinsch, Isabelle, Janis, Kari, jgy, Lise, Dorte, McGillicutty, Sunnymama, Ibb, Kelleyn, Ninja, Sky, RosaMaria, Juniper, Valerie, Sammi, Cole, Don, WanderChow, FlowTops, Tania, Tzivia, Kristin, Laura, Guusje, Susanna, Juana, Elsa, Nadine
Yes, the time is coming too fast. Then you have much too much time for themselves, and the children go their own way. A great pity.
I like the perspective too … and the thought of keeping our nearest and dearest who are far away close to us. I’m far from family as well and I can totally relate.
Yes, with Instagram, blogging, pinterest, the time to myself is actually time to share. I love this. And when the children call out to come and play or do something with them I need to remember that soon they won’t call out and they’ll want their time to themselves and their friends too (without mum and dad hanging around!). So time to myself is taken in small doses now and can wait a little longer.
The sad thing is that when we do have time for ourselves we will wish we were busy again.
Big sister is very little herself, and she’s dealing with a big milestone such as going to school is, and – rightly – wonders and asks you. It would be worse if she felt she couldn’t ask. Big hug, dear friend.