Where I spray-paint my thoughts…

If I Could Save Time in a Bottle, I’d Get it by the Case


This is probably going to be the least original and interesting blog post you’ve ever read. Oh look! A working mom is complaining about not having enough time. Stop the presses!!!

First of all, let’s define our terms. All moms are working moms, so what I am is a “working-outside-the-home” mom (WOHM) who goes to a job as well as looking after my family. And by “not enough time” I don’t mean that every moment is so busy and over-scheduled I can’t keep up with getting things done. Some days are definitely like that — even some weeks! — but overall I feel we have a pretty good balance and life is not too hectic.

The lack of time that I’m focusing on is the lack of that all-important “me time” that we moms are always being told we need to have if we’re to keep from going insane. Time that is just mine to do what I please with, whether I choose to take a nap, go for a walk, run some errands or dust my bookshelves.

Now, I am pretty good about carving out “me time” in my days. I read a lot. I write. I anticipate many relaxing baths in our lovely new whirlpool tub. But all of these things are things I can do while my kids are in the house, otherwise busy or asleep, and I am still supervising them.

What amazes me is how little of my 24 hours every day is actually “my time” in the sense that I can do anything I want or go anywhere I want; how very little freedom I have in how I spend my time.

There are many, many ways in which I feel that teaching while my children are in school is the best of all possible worlds for me — emotionally, financially, professionally and spiritually. It works for me, mostly. But in terms of time, there’s no doubt it’s the worst of all possible worlds. When I was a teacher without children, my time was my own from the moment I left work. If I were still a stay-at-home mom, the hours while the kids were in school would belong to me. They’d be busy hours, sure, but I’d be able to decide how to spend them, be free to come and go as I please.

As it is now, I drop my kids at school on my own way to work, where for 6 hours my time belongs to my employer and my students (I actually have a lot more freedom and flexibility at work than most teachers do, so again, I’m not really complaining, but I’m not free to drop everything and go shopping in the middle of the day). I go straight from work to pick up the kids from school, usually cutting the time short on both ends so that that I leave things not as finished as I’d like at work, and arrive to find the kids complaining about having to wait for me. Then for the rest of the afternoon and evening I’m responsible for them (although of course Jason shares that responsibility when he comes home from work), even after they go to bed. All night, until they wake and want (or don’t want) breakfast in the morning.

Where, in all this, is there any time for me to just do whatever I want? Precious little, is what there is. I try to exercise twice a week — yoga and water fitness on Monday nights, water fitness on Wednesdays. Even fitting in those two appointments almost always involves juggling something else. Twenty minutes to walk around the track at the gym feels like stolen time. As for those “breaks” that are not self-improvement but purely self-indulgent … practically non-existant. I like to go to Chapters for a Starbucks coffee and a little browse of the books but to go by myself, without kids in tow, is a rare treat indeed.

Yesterday was a red-letter day as I got to do TWO things that were “just for fun.” In the morning I went to a brunch with the women’s group from church, and in the afternoon I had the sanity-saving monthly coffee date with my friends, the Strident Women. The day felt positively hedonistic (even though I also managed to do all the weekend dishes, finish two loads of laundry, pick up a few groceries and spend a couple of hours making requested changes to a freelance assignment in addition to all that “me time”).

The only reason the few getaways I do manage are possible is because I have a wonderful, supportive spouse who will juggle the child-care hours with me to allow me to get out on my own from time to time. We also have a good network of family support. How a single working parent with no local family support survives, is a question of wonder and great mystery to me. But I’m glad some of them do survive, not only for their sake but because their existence reminds me that I could always be quite a lot worse off!!

I also try to remind myself that this is a short space of time in a long life, and that there will be years and years in the future when my kids don’t need the constant presence of a parent (in fact, would prefer NOT to have it) and my time will be my own again. I am grateful for what I have, for my family and my job, for all the things that fill my days. But if just a couple of hours a week of completely free time were to somehow fall into my lap — well, I’d just be that much MORE grateful.


5 thoughts on “If I Could Save Time in a Bottle, I’d Get it by the Case

  1. Your comments on single motherhood remind me of something that I heard a young Hollywood mother said once. It might have been Angelina Jolie while she was single. On a talk show she was going on and on about the stress of single motherhood etc. and said “I can’t believe how time-consuming it is, and I have someone who changes the beds and cleans the toilets.. I can’t imagine how it must be for single mothers who have to do everything on their own and have a full-time job. I mean, I take off my hat to you. No, I take off all of my clothes and bow down naked to you.”
    I was impressed that a Hollywood “actor” would recognize how blessed they are…that they have some advantages that we don’t. I respect single mothers because I get overwhelmed sometimes and I am just single. But I don’t think anyone wants me bowing naked….

  2. Can’t your “me time” be while you are doing the laundry or making supper?


  3. As a single woman with no children, I have lots of me time. So, ask the kids if they’d like to come to my house on Saturday evening. I’ve got a new Veggie Tales movie. There may also be pizza.

    You can buy a new book, bubble bath and fire up your favorite candle on the side of your new whirl pool and enjoy some pre-mother’s day relaxation. How does that sound? 🙂

  4. Sherry, actually I think of you as a good example of someone who doesn’t have kids but probably also doesn’t have a lot of truly free time — first because you have way more responsibility for your job than I have for mine, being the manager (ie you can be called in at any hour if things go wrong), and then you are responsible for caring for your mom as well. However, that doesn’t mean the kids wouldn’t enjoy the offer and we wouldn’t enjoy the break! (Jason wants me to go see IronMan with him next time we get an evening free. But going to see an action movie with your husband is just one more example of a married woman’s tedious responsibilities, if you ask me!!!)

    Sharon, I think Angelina Jolie just wants us to imagine her bowing down naked … but I really do have the greatest respect for single parents who are doing it all on their own.

    Jamie … no comment!!!!! (Except if you have time to post sarky comments on my blog, you should have time to answer the msg I sent you on Facebook the other day!)

  5. lol! Funny thing is, I just did answer that a few minutes ago (before I read your comment above). It’s facebook’s fault I didn’t reply sooner (see my message on facebook for details).

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