Keeping Time

Keeping Time January 18, 2020

It’s a rainy, gray Saturday morning, and I’m dropping my daughter off at the theater academy in a hip neighborhood. This is our new routine. Even the rain, which seems to have decided that January weekends are the cool place to be.

When we moved here from Kansas City last year, this girl child decided she didn’t want to do ballet anymore. Which is FINE I’M TOTALLY FINE, even though she is built for it like I never was, she started very young at a legit academy (as I never had opportunity to do in small town Kentucky) and even if quitting dance felt like quitting a whole season of both our lives and I was not quite ready to store those leotards away with the onesies and board books and other things we will never use again. It’s whatever, I’m fine.

In any case, in a small nod to that part of my life/self, the tween in my life wanted to do theater instead of dance, so that is at least something. So here we are, every Saturday morning for the foreseeable future. I drop her off at the curb, and watch her half-grown, artsy-weird, bohemian self bounce in there ready to be whoever she’s going to be today.

And then I find myself with TWO HOURS of time before I need to pick her up again.

Do you know what full-time working moms do when we have two hours to ourselves? We don’t either because that is not a thing that happens for us. It just isn’t. And yet, here I am, another Saturday morning. Two hours of freedom expanding in front of me, a wandering trail to somewhere good.

Let me tell you what happened the first Saturday this trail opened up to me. I went through the usual internal litany that runs on repeat through my every block of free time. Stop me if you’ve heard it:

I should go to the gym.
I should run some errands.
I should write something. 

I then went through a few rounds of “maybe go home and start some laundry” or “finish the grocery list and menu planning for the week.” But I caught myself before fully jumping on that hamster wheel, because do you know whose voice that is, telling us that if nothing is ‘getting done’ in this hour we are wasted? That is the devil talking. And everybody knows the devil’s a damn liar.

So what I did instead was, I went to a favorite coffee shop in this hip little burg of the city I love. I got a latte and a fresh bakery biscuit (and in Kentucky, they know how to do biscuits) and I sat down with my library book, and camped out for the duration. And it was perfection. 

Whoever needs to hear this on this Saturday, be it in rain or shine, listen up: Not every hour needs an accomplishment.

Yes, we were made for work and vocation. We were made for family and home and the thousand little details that make up that good life, especially in the season where tween children have Places To Be nearly every day of the world. We were made for running and doing and going and growing and all of it. But that’s not all we are for. That is not all we get to be.

I’m a fairly high energy person, a chronic multi-tasker, and an almost compulsive list-maker. I’m not good at sitting still and I’ve long known this about myself. But I like to think, as I’ve grown older (if not wiser) I have learned the discipline of keeping time. Keeping it sacred, keeping it as a gift to be held and enjoyed rather than a thing to be raced through and filled with tasks. With this rare gift of consistent open space that breaks through in the same calendar spot each week, I aim to be intentional in asking myself– is this time to kill, or time to fill?

Maybe it is neither. Because not every moment has to be ‘filled’ in order to go unwasted.

I remind myself of this, every time I drop off one of my growing-too-fast kids at some activity or another. Every time I see them walk away with friends, scarcely needing me anymore. Every time we shift to a new interest or talent or season. Every time I notice that their jeans are all too short again, and wonder where the time went, and start thinking about when in the world we will find the time to go shopping for new clothes?

Later. We will go shopping later.


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