The scene: our utterly chaotic pre-dinner kitchen, Gabriel doing laps around our first floor carrying an enormous plastic piece of a toy kitchen, saying "HEAVY... HEAVY!" to indicate that he can barely lift the thing, Frances telling me all about how in this doctor's office you can have more than one appointment and now she's fixed the ear infection so what ELSE is wrong with your baby today - when suddenly she is struck with hunger and the following exchange ensues.
Frances: How many minutes until dinner, Mama?
M: About twenty.
F: Oh no! But that is so long! (runs away to the living room. runs right back.)
Mama! Do you know how you can make homemade time? Homemade twenty minutes?
M: Why, no, I don't know how to make homemade time.
F: You just count to sixty twenty times in a row! Then you've made homemade twenty minutes! (rushes off to sit in her chair at the dining room table; begins to count).
My dear daughter! Thinking she can take charge of time. If only. But I love this idea; so much so I'm considering renaming the blog. I love that for her the way to take charge of - to put her own special stamp on - bread or a Halloween costume is for it to be homemade, so why not apply the same principle to time?
We think a lot about creating a homemade space to live in, homemade food to eat, homemade (or rather homegrown) plants and vegetables and herbs to surround us and nurture us... what does it mean to create homemade time? Apropos of Amelia's latest post, and a talk with Cameron last night about waiting for children to get old enough to hike, or to read quietly by themselves ... and also the feeling I had today on the way to school (Gabriel screaming in his car seat and Frances faux screaming so she wouldn't feel left out) - the feeling that I simply would never make it until bedtime - you are getting the idea. The character of time has changed since having children. Long days, short years. Isn't that what Grandmother Presler used to say?
There is a certain blur-like quality that seems unavoidable in time spent parenting small children. But I don't want to lose it, either, even though I have been near tears wishing for time to pass a little more briskly. I have also often felt a certain frantic grasping at time, during those extraordinary bursts of in-the-moment joy so acute they hurt. They hurt because they are slipping away even as they are realized, like so many brilliant golden paw paw leaves, now curled up and brown on our lawn.
So I get it, kid. I would like to sit down and count to sixty with you at the dining room table, in the middle of all this mess and lunacy.
I am going to keep thinking about homemade time, and what that means for me and my family. I think perhaps it might have to do with those rare times when I'm able to let go of my agenda and experience time with my children, to encounter the world alongside them, at their pace. Like walking today with Gabriel, stopping to touch the fuzzy tall grass and to admire the green pickup truck and to wave goodbye to the bushy orange mums in a neighbor's yard. A seven minute walk took thirty minutes, but so what? Where did I have to be just then? Nowhere but with him.