Time is flexible, like sweat pants on a cruise ship, stretching to wrap around the ever-expanding girth of our lives. What once were fixed parameters now seem magically to bend and bulge in order to contain all of the activities we cram into every hour. Einstein's theory of relativity needs no further proof to defeat those of Galileo or Newton than this past week.
In the span of only a few days, our children have participated in more extra-curricular activities than the Brady Bunch and Partridge Family combined from all their seasons, and I'm including the two-hour movie specials and pop music careers. And it doesn't stop with the kids. My Lovely Wife and I have been sucked in to volunteering our time when our time already was a hot commodity. Somehow, somewhere along the way from blissfully ignorant single lives to 40-something parents of a teenager, we lost control.
A little more than eighteen years ago, I didn't think there was enough time in the day to do the things I wanted to do. I had to wake up, shower, and go to work. At some point I had to make time in my busy day for buying a fast-food lunch and returning home to my parents house to eat a dinner prepared by my Mother. I was so pressed that I didn't have time for the luxury of exercising, or writing the novel I dreamed of writing, or getting a second job to supplement the pennies I was making as a newspaper reporter. After all, there was all that sitting around on my ass doing nothing that needed to be accomplished.
Then I met my Lovely Wife. We started dating and suddenly there wasn't enough time to do all the things I needed to do while spending with her all the time I wanted to. We were busy people with separate careers. Before long we had a house and a dog and jobs forty miles from our house in opposite directions. We didn't have enough time to do all the things we wanted to do!
Then came Our Daughter, beautiful little creature that she was, and suddenly we had to squeeze in childhood preparation classes, labor & delivery, diaper changes, daycare, breastfeeding, bath times, preparing bottles of pumped breast milk, potty training, nighttime feedings, wellness checks, and countless times packing and repacking the diaper bag. How could we possibly find time for anything else in our crazy lives?!
Then came the boys. Screw the childhood preparation classes -- been there done that. Labor & delivery? Three hours, no pain for me, tons for the Lovely Wife delivering twins with no painkillers. Double the diaper changes, double the daycare costs, double-fisted breastfeeding, everybody in the bathtub, nobody wants to take a bottle. What's the dog doing? How many onesies are in the diaper bag? Why can't they potty train at the same time? What the hell is thrush? How much vomit can come out of one dog?! When can we get a minute to ourselves?!?!?!?!
Then a brief calm...
Where are the children? Outside playing with the neighbors? That's great. Sure is nice and quiet in here, now that they're more independent.
What's that? After school band practice? That's not a problem, sweetie. It's great you're so dedicated. What? Sure, I can get her from dance to Girl Scouts. Are you sure you want to be treasurer of the PTA? Yes, you would do an excellent job. I'd be happy to take over the PTA website, it sounds like fun. Band Boosters at the middle school? Okay, but I'm not going to get too involved. Yes, I'm the secretary.
You have a PTA meeting on Monday? What time do we have to get her to dance Tuesday night? The boys have Cub Scouts Wednesday night but first we'll bring the kids to the homecoming parade on Broad Street in Southern Pines and swing through Wendy's on the way home to drop off their sister before I bring them to the meeting. Okay, on Thursday, you bring her to dance at 5:30 after shopping for a birthday gift for her friend's sleepover party on Friday, we'll all eat dinner at different times, I'll leave for the Band Booster's meeting at 6:30, you bring the boys to the free Jack Hanna presentation at the high school at 7:30, which is when I'll leave Band Boosters to pick her up and bring her to catch the end of Jack Hanna...
In the end, time expands to allow all these new and exciting experiences. Unlike some who stress and wonder how we have the time to do so much, I can't help but look back on my younger days and wonder how I could have wasted so much time doing nothing.
Life might be hectic, chaotic and relentless at times, but it's better than the alternative.
© 2010 Mark Feggeler