Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stealing Time


I remember my parents saying to me when I was young (and not so young, most likely), "if it is important to you, then you make time for it." And I still absolutely agree with that sentiment, the idea that our actions are what ultimately express our values. How we spend our time is the truest reflection of our priorities. But I want to quibble with one little aspect of my parents' advice: I cannot make time.

Oh, that I could. If only I could create extra time, more hours in the day to devote to those activities I value and never seem to get around to. If only I could make the time I need to get everything done. But sadly, I cannot.

The hard truth is, there is only a very limited amount of time in any given day. And when I choose to devote time to one activity, I am inevitably stealing that time from some other endeavor. This is a zero sum game. Every hour I spend doing housework is an hour I don't spend reading to my children. And if I try to do it all, I just end up stealing from my own allotment of sleep.

What ends up happening, more often than not, is that when I try to carve time out of my day that is just for me, set aside for my own selfish interests, I feel the guilt of a thief. I am all too conscious of what I am not doing. In a family, whenever one person drops the ball, another must pick it up. Thus none of my decisions only affect myself, especially when it comes to how to spend my time. Trying to set aside some "me" time inevitably means imposing on someone else to pick up the slack.

Recently, my husband asked me, concerning some trivial decision about where to have dinner or what to do on a Saturday, "what do you want?" And I answered his question with considerations of nap time and the children's preferences, and he reiterated, "No, what do you want?" And I realized that the answer to that question hardly even occurs to me. I am mentally unable to conceive of my own needs and desires outside of the needs and desires of my family as a whole. This, my friends, is a problem.

Perhaps part of the issue, in my case, is that I was never an independent adult. I was seventeen years old when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I went straight from adolescent to mother, with no stopping for a breath in between. And from the day she was born, I was first and foremost a mother. I never had a period of life in which my time was truly my own.

So this is my challenge to myself now: to find the answer, the truly individual selfish answer, to the question, what do you want? And then to find a way to steal the time I need without guilt. To let some things go. To say to myself, you are important. Your needs are important, as an individual person. I am sure I am not the only one who finds this such a revolutionary idea. Most of us squash down our selfishness most of the time, and that's not a bad thing. But it is absurd, when I am trying to teach my children self-respect, to not treat myself with that same level of regard.

Right now, I want... time to write. And this week, I promise myself, I will steal it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Adventures

Several updates from my topsy-turvy world:

1. Someone domain-squatted on me, and the minute my domain registration expired, POOF! it was gone. (The renewal reminders ended up in my spam filter. Gmail spam filter FAIL.) So I am no longer at chickencounting dot com. We'll just have to manage with instead for the time being. So I am still here! Hmm, how do you send out change of address cards for a blog...?

Tolly Cover Episode 12. Since a fair amount of my energies are being directed towards trying to make a go of this whole stringing-words-together thing, which may or may not be of interest to my regular readers here at Chicken Counting, I've created a new space to chronicle my attempts at becoming a writer when I grow up. Read all about it over there.

3. And speaking of that whole stringing-words-together deal, I have an exciting announcement: I have released the first installment of my serialized novel for young readers on Amazon as a Kindle book. You can read all about it here. Very exciting!!

Writers are born

Oh, and meanwhile the six-year-old has been writing books like nobody's business. Something about apples and trees...