Personal time and motherhood are opposites. Like pickles and chocolate or minivan and glamor. But this school year, there are six hours of the week in which all my children are enrolled somewhere. They are safe, learning, having fun and making friends.
I, on the other hand, haven’t decided what to do with my six sweet hours. And if I really break it down, it is only five hours and forty minutes by the time I do pick-ups and drop-offs in my Cheerio bejeweled minivan.
Yesterday I watched and read the remembrances of many 9/11 victims and what they chose to do in their last moments. Some made phone calls to loved ones, a flight attendant boiled water in a pan to throw at the terrorists, a man in a red bandanna found the stairway and used his volunteer firefighting skills to lead others to safety, some wrote love notes and stuck them in their pockets, some ran into burning buildings to save others while another said The Lord’s Prayer with the 911 operator who answered his phone call. It has been 12 years since the attacks and tears still surface in my eyes each time I read a victim’s account. Time is precious and these unknowing heroes showed just how dear it can be.
So, with my few kid-less hours each week there are many things I want to accomplish. The list includes closets to organize, mountains of laundry and dishes are a given, dinner to consider, grocery shopping with no one begging for popsicles, and this winter there will be snow to shovel.
It is also my time to work on my writing, uninterrupted for several hours, or return a phone call to a client without having a screaming child in the background, because that is so professional. Without fail, no matter how happily entertained the kids are when I pick up the phone, that is when a fight breaks out.
But I don’t want these two mornings that I have each week to be entirely about work; housework or writing work. Some days I want to go out for tea with a friend, take a bike ride, connect with old friends on the phone or just relax on the couch and read a book. These are the things that make me a better parent when we are all reunited.
And this is my dilemma. How to schedule these precious minutes and make the most of them?
Somehow I’m better at managing other people’s time (like that of my husband and three children) than managing my own.