Thursday, August 26

time

what's your first reaction to that word?
slips away,
never enough,
must fill it...?

i came across a blog discussing how to simplify list making. list making has never been a part of my reality. partly because i can keep things in my head well, but it got me thinking. for someone who has reacted to the word time with...

not enough, not enough, not enough...

as i manically multi-task my way through the day....

i wondered why i had never had To Do lists in my life.

it occured to me that whilst i have desired to Achieve A Million Things Before I Die, i have never felt pressured to Must Dos.

my battle has always been with the Want To Dos. in my recent bloghops i have noticed this distinction. between women who feel an anxiety about Needing To Do and with those feeling it with Wanting To Do.

so i can learn from someone who feels relaxed about time, who feels at peace with letting go of the need to make each second worthwhile. and others can learn from someone like me, who feels no need to check off a To Do list.

although i have only 2-3hrs to myself, need 8hrs sleep to feel human but average only 5 (interrupted), have a velcro child, and no outside help (family, nanny, whatever), i never feel overwhelmed by Mounting Tasks.

why?

somewhere along the line, it was never embedded into my psyche that i am only of value if i am productive, achieving useful things.

there was a time not so long ago that if you did not do the washing or cook daily, your family went without. and in many circles, the work ethic of the previous generations has continued. but often to our detriment. despite, washing machines, fridges and freezers, dishwashers, various ease-making equipment, abundance, and availability of resources, some of us still harbour anxiety. and actual hands-on fun time with the children was either a luxury reserved for Sunday, or unheard of.

more than fear
mixed media collage
6x7.5"

my mother-in-law and i were discussing the changes. she, who has worked hard all her life, both in and out of the home, admitted that this was no longer necessary. all she has ever known is darning socks, scrubbing floors, cooking daily, and so on... until perhaps around 15 years ago.

she told me that she spent very little time with her sons, because there was just too much that needed doing, and it all took time. we romantise the bygone days, forgetting that the average woman had to break her back to get through each day. even when modern appliances came into the scene, there still remained a deep anxiety about keeping up on the domestic front. if your neighbour scrubbed her windows every day, so did you. if your neighbour had a lovely garden, you certainly strived for the same.

hard work and perfection. and little to no play.

she told me how all the time i spent reading with the girlchild, playing with her, doing art for myself, reading for pleasure, taking strolls in nature, going to the beach, crocheting fun hats.... and so on..... was something she can only be thankful for in our generation. she loves how much time i have for her granddaughter.

and we throw it away.

why?

because our neighbour, or other blogging mamas, do so much? they knit and do crafts and plan meals and conduct nature studies, and renovate furniture, and cook from scratch, and write books, and blog......
or because our parents struggled, and there was no such thing as leisure.

PHEW

husband has the work ethic, he feels anxiety at All That Needs Doing. I feel anxiety at having no time to do all i want.

so we have to keep up right? with others. with our embedded stories. we must fight time, wring as much out of each second as we can. right? and the days we don't manage that?

we go to sleep with guilt sitting nice and heavy in our gut.

and that's how we wear ourselves away. ultimately, feeling we are not good enough.

my mil said, you have so many choices these days, so much time.
she said it with awe, and admiration, and pride, and thankfulness.

i feel i cheat her every time i think - i have no time, or, when someone else thinks, there's so much to do.

how much needs doing, really?
and although we've learnt now how important play is, we've made it work! i must create a schedule of fun for my children! i must fit in play with baking and knitting all our clothes and doing something educational.

whether we want to do or feel we need to do, we. can. not. do. it. all.
us women finally managed to understand that with the career-family tug-o-war, but now we've moved it back into the domestic sphere, we must be super-crafty-hands on-book loving-waterbirthing-babycarrying-cooking-cleaning-creating-domestic-goddesses.

and while we're fiercely doing or feeling guilty at not doing, life is getting on with the business of passing by.

i am not more part of life just because i do more. 
on the contrary, i am disconnected.
most of my life is occuring in my head, in the anxious thoughts.

we ought not to want to do it all.

that's been a loooong and sloooow lesson that i'm still learning.

16 comments:

  1. I gain so much inner musing and insight from your thoughts.. thanks for sharing them.
    i like the artwork too..very busy.

    Just yesterday evening I was standing at the sink musing in dish-washing mode.. thinking about how there doesn’t ‘seem’ to be enough time in the world, not enough time in the day to do/complete all those things that need doing and the ones I want to do. I don’t think any of them really matter enough to get worked up about. Not saying that I never get anxious or worked up about it cos sometimes I do.. but I think that my reaction to it depends on the day.. what’s happening at the time, the importance of it:)

    My initial reaction to your question -
    ‘what's your first reaction to that word?’
    was - ‘we have all the time in the world.. to give..’

    this is something that deep down I feel to be true, I think my travels over the years have taught me a lot about time and patience, and how some things just are.. and all will be well.

    One of my most favourite places on this planet is Morocco, I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years.. and it has been one of those places that has most challenged my perception of time. There is no point having a schedule in that beautiful place as it moves in its own time.. and it teaches you to move with it.
    Like your mil, my gran’ always says - we don’t know how lucky we are, in regards to the free time we have available.. it’s just that we quite often rush to fill up those spaces with other things.. missing out on the beauty of it. Our life experiences certainly do affect our perception of time.

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  2. I blogged about this similar subject the other day. It's been on my mind too.
    I love this
    'i am not more part of life just because i do more.
    on the contrary, i am disconnected.
    most of my life is occuring in my head, in the anxious thoughts'
    I want to let go of the idea that doing more makes me more valuable or better. I just want to enjoy life, not be constantly marking things off my 'todo list' (i don't really keep a list either).
    Thanks for another idea about this, maybe I can actually do it someday.

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  3. I truly needed this; feeling less than and mildly anxious about not doing enough arts and crafts with my two year old wonder and being overwhelmed by how much other Mums get done with their 3 children under 6!!!AHHH... but, I am at home with her, and her Daddy is too and we walk and we plant, and we play and she helps make oatmeal and I am reminded, OK, so she watches some TV - most days, but not always and its not on in the corner ALL day and she is at home and I have that and I have her and we have sooo much time together compared to others.
    I needed this, THANK YOU.

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  4. My name is Reggie, but didn't know how to post that... here I am, introducing myself, as I have enjoyed your posts and keep checking in. Thanks Again!

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  5. greenwhisper - ah yes, we're in the med and time is sloooow here, lol. most of the brits and americans get fed up. but the general consensus is not to do more, but to enjoy more, subsequently, there's more time here. ;)

    morocco... sigh... still on my list.

    cassie
    "I just want to enjoy life"
    exactly!

    reggie hi there!
    i think more of our kids watch tv then most of us would admit. tv isn't evil, it's the whole way of life where tv is everything, or tv with harmful commercials, or not spending time with our children.

    mine loves tv, or dvds really. it's part of every day. but we're together 24/7, spend lots of time talking, playing, reading, just hanging out. i've learnt to be totally okay with dvds being another part of our days.
    i remind myself, if i falter, that i've chosen to be with her at home, even though i'm not a natural mother. and that she gets my attention when she asks for it, and that she knows she's loved.

    do you have a blog?

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  6. Oh wow, this couldn't have come at a better time. I've been making myself sick trying to expand my product line for my business by the 1st of the month...and it's just me here. Cooking, packaging, designing, emailing, labeling, photographing, writing, uploading, packing, mailing....just me. I have been working 7 days a week, 6 hours or more and late into the nights...and I just can't do it. I realized I'm never going to make my deadline.

    Meanwhile, the laundry goes unwashed, the dishes undone, the floors unswept...and that just makes me all the more crazy and stressed out.

    I only just realized last night that I have to scale back and go as fast as I can go without causing myself stress, pain or panic. I can't keep running myself into the ground. And that's okay - it doesn't affect my worth. (I wish I could remember that one every day!)

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  7. Yes, I agree with everyone that this couldn't have come at a better time! This is so poignant and deep and true. You've touched on an issue for many, many people.

    I've been so hard on myself lately -- and I don't make lists, never have, just feel I don't have enough time! -- that I seem to have come down with a cold! Sigh. I need to slow down and relax because I typically feel as though I can't get everything done.

    I think that when it comes down to it, when I let go of things that don't get done, when I relax and allow myself to do yoga or meditate or enjoy a book, then everything else seems quite possible and falls into place naturally. But if I don't balance me-time with everything else-time, then I'm much more likely to feel rushed and overwhelmed. Slowing down for me is key ... the more I slow down, the more I'm in the moment and love life. Doesn't matter what I'm doing ... I could be doing nothing ... but breathing, being, that's the way to be.

    Thanks for this wonderful post.

    Much love.

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  8. Brilliant post -- and yes, very timely (hardy-har). i started commenting yesterday but was interrupted by boy-child and never got back. no worries...lots of time, right?

    seriously though -- this one is HUGE for me. and part of my new boundary-making for my self. to stop telling myself that i NEED to do this,that and the other...that if i don't then i'm less of a mother, wife, writer, human-being.

    i actually started avoiding those crafting-baking-science-projecting blogs because they just exacerbated my anxiety. i'm not a natural mother either so it only fed my insecurities on that regard by seeing all of those wholly devoted types knitting, baking and tracking the migratory habits of the blue-crested lesser leaf-skipper with their toddlers. (snark).

    really though -- i think this turbo-charged domestic-goddess business is simply a transference of the energy put out by women who feel they need to compete in a 'man's world'. does that make sense? that some women feel the need to prove that their choice to stay at home needs to appear as high-powered and ambitious as a working mother holding the vice-presidency of a multi-national.

    plus, our society values the *doing*..everything else is just laziness. that needs to change. i'm happy to be one of the pioneers..;)

    xo

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  9. The concept of time has changed drastically for me as I passed the age of 45 (9 years ago.) Before that milestone, time stretched ahead, with avenues open. Now, no matter how long I live I will have finite time.

    With housework, I use an online system that takes about 20 min. a day so that our home is comfortable and time isn't spent in drudgery.

    Yet, days still just don't fill with significance for me at times.

    Gloria

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  10. GREAT post.

    'we go to sleep with guilt sitting nice and heavy in our gut.'

    There was a time when I felt that. Can't remember when it last was, though. Definitely before I had my child...no before I was incapacitated by pregnancy, at the very least.

    I have little sense of time these days. When suddenly 9 months have gone by since I wanted to get my son's chair finished, I just think, oh well, he'll still fit into it when I get it done. Hopefully.

    I love unstructured time, and it's so good for children...certainly it's good for us, too. Maybe not ALL of our time, but at least some of it.

    I realized earlier this week that the reason why I have begun to shy away from certain modern conveniences is because I find that with all the time they free up, it's so easy to pack more into that time, filling life with too much 'stuff.' At least while scouring the floors, a woman had time to her thoughts.

    No, I am grateful to have some time-saving devices, and then also not to feel the driving need for perfection (which is really good for me, considering I'm a perfectionist), so that I can utilize that extra time to do...oh, I don't know...whatever I feel like.

    I do believe I have enough time to do what I REALLY want to do. I just have to drop a thing or two to make room for it. I'm actually incapable, I think, of packing my days. Used to think it was a weakness of mine!

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  11. I LOVE this post, it resonates so much for me. I need to stop, I still need the lists as my memory is shot but I need to realise that the need to do stuff and the want to do stuff is all just stuff that might be done x

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  12. Hi Mon! Thanks, I have thought about having a blog, and have sort of, kind of started one, but I was unsure of it, and have never really made it public. However, your themes are v close to my heart, I have written about my shadow on my possible blog, will send it to you sometime.

    You helped me here to come to peace with the whole TV watching thing, thank you. Also, I like the Mamma who said she has stopped reading the crafty MOm blogs, as I think I might take heed of this and do the same. I have let go a little more of the urge to be 'doing' more.

    However, my guilt, which is linked very much to my shadow, is that the night times around here seem a complete shambles. I saw from another post that you, too, are only getting 5 hr uninterrupted sleep. I am also in this same situation. Until about 2 months ago, my now 2 yr old daughter (bday yesterday in fact) was waking every 2 hours and I was nursing to sleep. Anyway, I started night weaning b/c I just couldn't handle this anymore. It started off really well. She would wake maybe after 5-6 hours and then be really happy with falling asleep on top of me, as we cuddled - and I loved it - and then to the side of me for another couple of hours and I would feed somewhere between 3-4am in the morning and then again around 5.30, up at 6.30/7am. Now.. i kind of screwed this up with feeding her earlier than 3 when she fell asleep at 6pm (very very unusual) and b/c of the earlyness of the sleep, I fed around 1am, i think... anyway, its been a shambles ever since and I feel many times, when she was nursing and waking constantly at night that I was moody and impatient, purely from severe sleep deprivation and extreme tiredness.

    I have a lot of guilt about this. I feel I have made her nights uncomfortable. I have also had a mild depression, after moving to Brazil ( a looong story) and experiencing a lot of deep mourning and anger esp towards my husband who brought us here. SHort version is this has damaged our rship and the depression, mourning, anger, hurt etc made me even more exhausted... a viscious circle. I don't know what to do about the nights.

    My chirpy, beautiful, alert, content and magical daughter seems restless in her sleep and then utterly distraught if I don't give her the breast, when I feel cutting back on this has given me 4 1/2 hr - 61/2 hr sleeps and I want this continue. Anyway, it is hard.

    What is you sleep story?

    THANKS

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  13. hey Anonymous. did you mean to be Anon?

    the sleeping thing is VERY tough, somehow i get through it, and not sure how. i think it's sheer willpower, acceptance, looking at the bigger picture, choosing joy.... all those tough but worthwhile things. and many days i allow myself to cry and cry.

    send me an email if you want to chat more... monb1970 [at] gmail [dot] com

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  14. Hi Mon! Thanks very much for the support. I don't want to be Anon, I just don't know how to get my name on there... completely inept at this kind of thing.

    I will send you an email. Thank You.

    Continuing to enjoy your blog.

    Reggie

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  15. Thank you for this post. I have turned a page in my perception of time. I am a multitasker as well. I used to make lists. But I have recently brought myself to consciously think about what I am doing. How I am spending my current Time. I catch myself preparing for what is coming rather than living what is happening. So I stop. I look out, through my eyes, with my soul. And live. Tomorrow will come. Or it won't. Thinking and preparing for it now just doesn't matter. My children are grown now. I wish I had spent more of this kind of time with them. They don't remember projects. They remember times that I have forgotten. Probably because I wasn't paying attention. I was thinking about the next thing.....

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  16. "They don't remember projects". thank you for sharing that linda. i have heard similar claims from other mothers. that kids tend to remember the love, or lack of it, more than anything. and just time together rather than specific projects or activities.

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