The Mommy Vortex: Carpe Diem
Time. There never seems to be enough of it. Every day, we race against the clock to get to work, drop the kids at school, get to the grocery store and doctor appointments, rush our kids to baseball or gymnastics, get dinner on the table, finish the laundry, and make sure homework is completed. It seems there are never enough hours in the day to get it all done.
And so the days, weeks, and months all begin to run into each other as we move from one activity and chore to the next. We try to “make” time to exercise, have a date with our spouse, or even just sleep. But doing something extra always means that another chore must be sacrificed. Our days are often so frenzied that I’ve heard many moms comment they were grateful that they had time to take a shower.
As the days rush by, I find many of us (myself included) are so focused on our “to-do” list that we are not able to appreciate the people and things we have around us. Sometimes, we take those people—and our time with them—for granted.
This point was brought quite clearly into focus for me this past week when a dear friend from my high school and college days passed away after losing her battle to cancer. She wasn’t even 40 yet; she simply ran out of time.
Watching my friend’s family, particularly her young sons, in mourning put time in perspective for me in a way I never quite understood before. My friend will never again have to make time to both finish her work and do the laundry… but she will also never have the time to see her sons graduate, get married, or have their own children. She would give anything, I’m sure, to have that time granted back to her.
Thinking about time through the lens of my friend’s untimely passing has changed me. Over this past week, I have taken time to do things I never ordinarily would: I spent extra time with my daughter brushing her hair and letting her play in the tub; I sat for a long while with my son as we completed a complex puzzle; I spent time on the phone with an old friend, who I will actually get together with rather than just saying I will; I took a walk, not to get my exercise in, but to actually see the blooming flowers.
I did not worry about the uncooked meals, the untouched laundry, or even my unanswered work emails. I hoarded my time this week so selfishly—I held it so tightly so that these precious moments would not be taken away from me.
And for the first time (probably in my entire life), I didn’t focus on the small, insignificant annoyances that would normally make my day go haywire. How could they be important in the general scheme of things? How could I waste my precious, limited time worrying about traffic, a broken cell phone, or having to go food shopping in the pouring rain?
Life events have forced me to think about using my time more wisely; I have begun to actually value my time in a way that has re-shaped my priorities and my perspective.
This doesn’t mean that the report for work shouldn’t get written or the kids should walk around in dirty clothes with their homework half finished. And I don’t think it means that we all need to be hyper-organized and scheduled down to the minute of each day. What I think it means is that we have to enjoy the moments we have—even the little ones. It means, for example, that giving our kids a bath doesn’t necessarily have to be another chore to get done; it could simply be a time to bond and play. Sometimes I forget that in the hustle and bustle of all the things I need to do in a day.
So often, we are too busy to live in the moment. We talk about how we will be happy when we get that promotion, lose 10 pounds, go on vacation, buy that new house or car. We live in the future, waiting for that next thing or event to make us happy. But time is fleeting—and sometimes, we are not granted that future moment; sometimes, the moments we had are all we’re going to get. And we need to make them count, one at a time.
Rosemarie Coppola-Baldwin is a practicing attorney and a dedicated mother of two children. A Georgetown University graduate, Rosemarie has practiced law at a major New York City law firm and for the City of New York. Rosemarie has been a guest lecturer on women’s civil rights and related legal issues at St. John’s University (New York), and offers pro bono legal services to a variety of entities.