I Can’t Help But Kick Myself For Thinking There Was Time For Things That Mattered Most

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dismissed one of my kid’s requests to play, read or do something (anything at all, really) with them, because I had to cook, clean, work or just needed a freakin minute to myself.

This pandemic climate has me looking back on every time I ever told myself, “we can do that later, right now I have to {insert non-life-threatening task here}” and thinking, damn. I thought we had plenty of time. 

Don’t get me wrong, I realize the current state of the world is not the FOREVER state.  

But, I still can’t help but take a look around me at the mass chaos and think, I really had my priorities out of whack. And I don’t mean because I waited too long to buy toilet paper. 

A few nights ago, I was in the middle of sweeping the kitchen floor when my 6 year-old  asked me to read him a book.

He stood there, doe-eyed, book in hand, gazing up at me, willing me to say “yes” with those big pupils of his. He may have had a face of anticipation, but, he already knew what I would say. My habitual response poured right out of my mouth, “not right now sweetie, I have to finish this first.” 

I say that a lot. 

Not right now. Maybe later. We can do that another time. I’m busy. 

The second the words came flying from my mouth, his eyes turned down. Visibly disappointed, I could tell he was really hoping this time would be different. Clearly, my kid knew that the current climate in the world should have made it so.

Yet, out of habit, because I was “busy,” this time didn’t elicited a different response from my usual.

His face. The regret. The letdown and confusion and hurt in his eyes… made me take a step back.

I realized in that moment, with that sad, misunderstood look plastered on his face, that I was feeding my kid an obvious line of bullshit, because let’s be honest, I had NOTHING pressing to do.

Not many of us do right now. The task of cleaning the floor could have, most certainly, waited. Sweeping up a few random crumbs is basically pointless when every one of your family members are home 24/7 for the foreseeable future, anyway.

I set the broom aside. We read the book. 

Since that night, any time one of my kids have asked me for help with homework, to read, to play a game or for a snack they could otherwise get themselves, I have tried my best to stop what I’m doing.

I ask myself if it’s really more important than what they are coming to me with. And most times, I get up and do the thing they are asking of me in that moment.

Because, pandemic or not, chances are, whatever I’m doing isn’t as important as making sure my kids feel like their mom is here, in this moment, with them.

My attitude has always been to work hard now, play later. It’s the ideal that has been instilled in me and the exact same message I’m sending to my kids every day.

There’s a time and place for fun and playing and NOW is not (usually) the time.

But, the reality is, we might not have plenty of time for those things.

Just a week ago I was stressing out over summer camp and soccer registration. Carting my kids from one activity to the next.

Five days later, our entire WORLD was flipped upside down and as much as I complained about our schedules that oftentimes felt like a never ending rat race, it feels eerie and surreal to watch all of that suddenly vanish in a matter of days. 

The world is currently a terrifying place. Not just in other countries and not just in my state or town. The ENTIRE WORLD is petrified of what’s to come next.  

As much as I have hope that things will one day be back to overwhelming, frantic days of taxiing kids from one activity to the next, for right now, I can’t help but kick myself for thinking that there would be TIME for things that should have always mattered most.

I was wrong. The time is NOW.

I can’t say what the future holds, but I can say that right now is not the time to worry about crumbs on the floor, toothpaste smeared on the mirror or finger prints on my windows.

I used to think I had so much to do and so little time to do it.

But the truth is, I could have had all the time in the world, and I still would have chosen to place mundane activities on the bottom rung when I prioritized that time. Even if those activities were with the people I care most about. 

I don’t know anymore what time we have left… things seem to be changing by the hour and time seems to have sped up or slowed to a complete halt, I can’t figure out which.

But what I do know is, no matter what situation we find ourselves in, we will never have “plenty” of time. I just hope there’s enough for me to show my kids and everyone else I love and care about that when it feels like the world is crashing down around us, THEY are what matter to me most of all. 

Be with your family. Play the game. Read the story. Sing the songs. There will always be plenty of time to clean the floors, but there may not be time for the rest.  

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