ORIGINALLY WRITTEN SHELLEY PLETT
“There is no time like the present for postponing what you ought to be doing.”
I don’t have time to write this column. I doubt you have time to read it. After all, it takes time to do the things that need doing. To get to work. To manage our kids. To organize schedules and appointments and birthday parties and vacations.
It takes time to paint a big house. It also takes time to shuffle and postpone all of these things. And it takes time to agonize over not getting them done. And then of course, it takes time to make up for lost time.
To quote “A Bug’s Life,” it’s one of those circle-of-life kind of things.
Today I received the most unexpected kind of time. Free.
My girls, whom I love dearly and sincerely miss when they’re gone, went to the zoo with their dad. I missed them, I did. But was I ever grateful for the chance to miss them.
Before I go any further, I should point out that I only have two kids. I recognize that many people juggle more. My own mother raised eight. How? I can’t say. I can only imagine the screaming, chasing and general chaos that she lived with day after day, year after year.
My own two fill me up. Mom can’t explain how she managed so many for so long. It’s a wonder she’s not in some kind of 12-step recovery program. Her only explanation is “I didn’t think about it, I just did it.”
Those who have no kids and complain about having no time-please stop. The dictionary changes when babies appear, be it one baby or eight. Words you thought you could define-like break, rest and alone-no longer mean what you thought they did.
You learn to devour those very things in smaller portions. And so begins the lifelong time diet. After that point, it’s all about managing rations and savoring each scrap.
So how did I relish my six bonus hours today? By painting my house. The boards and bricks on this place seem to multiply when we turn our backs. Although it’s only been a few weeks, it feels as if we’ve been working on it for months.
This was the first day I was able to contribute by actually painting something. So far, I’ve only helped by keeping little hands out of the paint cans.
As soon as they handed the house over to me, I began to slather Gray Taupe in every reachable spot. Yes, Gray Taupe. Not the most glamorous of color names, is it? But when you’ve been let down by a deceptive shade called Cityscape, which transforms from the “perfect” color into a pink-mauve when it hits wood; then nearly settled for the greenish “Correction Color,” and were then frustrated further by Yarmouth Gray’s streaky coverage over Dirty Yellow, you begin to rethink several things.
Things like: Who can we blame for getting us this entire project? (Only ourselves.) Can’t we just move instead? (Who would buy a house painted four different colors?) Primer white isn’t such a bad color, is it? (Hmmmm.)
Luckily, the inspiration returns when we walk outside and feel the Yellow creeping around the corners, seeping through the primer, and clinging to the foundation in its final attempt to forever haunt us.
We reclaimed our base color. One that doesn’t come with a fancy name. Gray Taupe it is.
Today’s unexpected serving of alone time revived my motivation for our painting project. Sure, I could have cleaned my kitchen, bathed the dog, paid some bills, or written my column, which would have prevented another late night typing frenzy. (Will I ever learn?)
Any of those projects would have been time well spent. But stepping outside to visible progress on a sometimes overwhelming project validates my choice.
I’ve learned that some things are worth a trade of time. With both of my babies, I averaged a couple hours of spotty sleep per night for the first several months. A good night’s rest was redefined.
But in a million years, I wouldn’t trade those hours for more sleep. I don’t have to spend time rocking them to sleep anymore, feeling each breath as their eyes slowly close. Or should I say, I don’t get to? Now, I just sleep.
Yet another example of how kids keep us on the time diet, teaching us to savor each moment. Whether they are under foot or at the zoo with Daddy. And whether the moments are spent sleeping, singing, sulking or even painting a big house.
Eventually we realize that for all the time it takes to do the things that need doing, it sure doesn’t take long for that time to fade away.