Thursday, February 21, 2008

tempo, rhythm, and time

You will have noticed, I'm sure, that there is only so much time in a day. In my current incarnation as an at-home mother, this has been one of my biggest challenges. It seemed to me in the very beginning that we really ought to have time for every little thing, every activity, every project that came up. It also seemed to me that we could do all these things, every little thing, and also that I should keep an immaculate house.

It is surprising how long this misapprehension lasted, given the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

I well remember our first week of homeschooling, when I thought we could do fabulous projects, meet our new playgroup, get outside to a park every day, all while I cleaned out our closets. Doesn't that sound like fun? The closets seemed incredibly pressing: for seven years of teaching school, I'd been shoving things into them, and I didn't have any idea what they contained. The closets were nightmarish, and I knew there was no way I could tolerate them if I were in the house most of the time. The closets got done, but little else that week did. We did what we could, and I soon learned I couldn't do every last thing, every single project and homeschool offering.

One of the most paradoxical surprises was that I actually have less time to knit. When I stopped going to a weekly faculty meeting, I lost several hours of knitting time. I also found that most of my knitting had happened when I was just too exhausted from teaching to do anything else but sit on the couch. Without the exhausting work, I didn't need to sit down quite so much. Reading has gone by the wayside for the same reason. Unbelievably, I now have to actually discipline myself to sit down and read a book, for what has to be the first time since I was about six years old.

Time has opened up in other ways, however, and these changes have been most welcome.

When Big One wrote his thank you notes this year after his birthday and Christmas, we found that it was a little bit difficult to get them done in a timely fashion. Before, when I worked and the kids went to school, we got them done over weekends, and that felt like a meaningful deadline. This year, there was no reason to do them on the weekend, because we could do them Monday. There was no reason to do them Monday, because we could do them on Tuesday. And so on.

By the time I figured out that this belief was what was keeping the notes undone, it was February. And so we settled into it... and I found that Big One's attitude about thank you notes had changed. He no longer was doing them just to get them done. He took his time, creating a drawing for each one, and taking the time to thank the giver for the gift, slowly.

His music practice is similar: in our previous lives, Big would practice five or six days a week, but on weekdays, he was worn out from school, so it was often a struggle to get him to practice, and those practices would be relatively short. He did his long practices and most of his improvising on weekends. Now that every day feels more like a weekend to him, his recorder practice can happen in the morning, every morning. He's tending to practice for longer and longer periods these days, and his music teacher is pleased. Music has become a sort of oasis in the middle of Big's day; he uses it to calm down from a conflict, to center himself when he's feeling out of sorts, and he almost never has to be leaned on to get down to it. Most of the time, he just does it without being reminded. Beautiful.


Granna Judy said...

Your comments are interesting to me because when I retired I thought the same thing -- I was going to have So Much Time to Get Things Done. But I don't, and neither do any of the other retirees I talk to. I'm actually busier than when I was working. I'm surprised and interested that a SAHM has the same experience!

Tara said...

Awesome changes! I love the different feel that settles into the house with home schooling.