‘Just give me a moment’ is a phrase you may often hear me saying at home to the children/husband/guinea pigs. That is, if you are an obsessed stalker with remarkably good technology and no one more interesting to check on.
What is a moment? A moment is all it takes me to do any one of the jobs I may feel the need to do around the home. Preferably two in fact. Time in my eyes runs differently from time as I perceive others to perceive it. You need to change into school clothes? Great. I will help you with that, while also putting away breakfast, cleaning three sets of teeth, ensuring our family additions have adequate vitamin C to stave off death for the coming 6 hours and checking that the world is still functioning without my close attention by reading facebook updates.
I am getting rather good at multi-tasking now that I am a proper mum of a ‘schooler’. Tomorrow is Lily’s first full day at school. She then has one more half day on Monday before the 2470 or so remaining school days kick in. Lovely. She has taken to school well, and already pointed out the square-based pyramids on the way home which I had not noticed. On the road. At the crossing. How does she know what a square-based pyramid is, when she has done fewer than 16 hours at school? I am genuinely impressed. (Unless I find someone has been secretly tutoring her to make me laugh. I have my suspicions. And then there is always my forgettery.)
Lily’s latest obsession is ‘Old Things’ as in ‘when was this built mummy?’ ‘was this music when you were little mummy?’ and ‘I like oldendays things and nowendays things too’. She is good at telling it like it is. ‘I want to move house because I don’t like living in an oldenhouse mummy’. Yesterday, after telling her I loved her sooo much, I got the honest response, ‘I love you too mummy, when you are happy’.
When I am happy.
Presumably not when I am busy, (can’t spare a moment, (just want to get this finished,) distracted,) normal mummy. Oh dear.
I could learn to be happier in my tasks. Is this what she means?
Honestly though, I have to admit this is something of a Martha moment for me. A little revelation. Lily is busy being herself, making me smile, growing and learning. I am busy being busy, and not attending to those fleeting and beautiful moments enough to cherish her and be happy with her. I am constantly needing a moment. And then we looked at Martha and Mary in our home group this morning. Yep. Guilt with a serving of guilt. All prepared lovingly by me, without much help.
Yes. That delicate balance of parenting and being. Of not attempting to fit in extra tasks when I should be revelling in the moment. Of choosing what is better. Of stopping trying to be a Human Doing. Of actually slowing down sometimes.
This may be a lesson I really need to absorb right now. Mathematically, I am confident in the proportion of time we have already spent with each of our children living at home before they get packed off to University and/or Real Life as an Adult. I can tackle being a mum mostly without emotion: just getting on with it all. The merry backlog of jobs to do in the home will not unhide itself like a one-child den made out of a bath-towel.
Are all my moments already taken? Is time so profoundly unimportant to me?
I guess it depends on what matters. It matters that Lily qualifies her love and appears to not be impressed by her distracted mummy. That what she craves (her love language, in fact), is Time. That I am spending her moments on anything but her. It is also how she perceives this, importantly. So now we begin the phase of carefully planned Quality Time. Not as a reward, or as something jammed in amongst all the other moments in my day, but because I love her when she is having a good moment, a funny moment, a thoughtful moment or even a really bad dream moment. And I am grateful that I have this time, utterly grateful for the gifts of Lily and of Joe, and grateful that you cannot count the moments. You can just make sure the moments actually count.