I never have enough time. I don’t think I have ever had enough time. I was an industrious toddler. I climbed trees, had picnics, went swimming, went fishing, dug for wriggly worms, made camp fires, read a great deal and due to having older siblings who did cool things, I also started ballet lessons at 3, piano lessons a bit after that, then tennis lessons, swimming lessons, kindergarden in the mornings and a great many play dates. I had lots of friends and I really liked them all and wanted to do things with them. I was an easy going child who loved sleep overs and spent as much time at my godparents’ house next door as I did at my house.
I loved the outdoors, I loved music and dancing and swimming and tennis and rock climbing and hiking and I loved quiet days at home curled up with a pile of books in the sitting room by the fire or in the crook of a tree in the winter. I was a solitary child, but I don’t recall being socially awkard. I made friends with ease and played with everybody. I have many memories of being sick, but even that becomes sort of an activity and later in life, a job, all of its own. My life has always been crammed full of important things to do, there was just so much I wanted to experience and learn and never enough hours in the day.
I still struggle with that same dilemma thirty years later. I always have a hundred ideas and a good few projects I am working on. I love to write and I would love to write more, here, on the diary I keep for my daughter, on the site we’re steadily building and yet finding the time is difficult. I have a list that span pages of game titles of things I simply have to play and books I really want to read. Movies to watch, places to go, new recipes to try. I want to be the best parent in the world, doesn’t all parents? And that takes a lifetime that I just do not have to spend. I have friends, relationships, family I would like to spend more time with, a BBQ that hasn’t been pulled out all summer and a house in desperate need of a make over, but there just never seem to be time to get to it.
I spend a lot of my time on things I very strongly dislike. Medical appointments, social services, benefits, drama surrounding the above and more drama. On average it takes up to about 10 phonecalls, usually 10-15 minutes each, to arrange an appointment or get some information about what the next step forward in a process is. Meetings tend to start at least an hour late and overrun by two. Days go into meetings that should take thirty minutes. This is stressful and although Chris handles most of the drama and footwork, even the bits that I simply have to do is absolutely exhausting and very time consuming.
Then there are actually being sick. Asthma attacks take time, so does putting joints back or fainting or migraines that last for days or any of the other dozens of things that go wrong on a weekly or daily basis. Recovering takes even longer and that’s just dead time that drifts into a black hole, filled with doing absolutely nothing, sleeping a bit, watching terrible TV as I can’t focus on anything else or often wasted on trying to get something done and failing terribly at it. Down time sucks in hours each day, days each week and weeks of each month and there is nothing I can do about it other than accepting it and stopping when I need to.
I find it immensely disempowering and stressful. I live with this list longer than all the paragraphs in my library of important things I want to do with my life. It would be easy to let the tension build up and quite often it does. It grows into frustration and then angry and eventually bitterness. All these things and no time to do because most of the time all I can manage is to just be sick and get through that. I try not to let that happen.
Instead, I focus on happy moments. The small things. That cold Halloween afternoon when I was pregnant and played Costume Quest in a single setting whilst eating chocolate swiss roll slices. The first positive comment we received on the site. Lunch at Harcourt Arboretum. The little one flying a kite. Finally finishing that book I had been meaning to read for year.
I read a Lifehacker article earlier this week that said buy experiences, not stuff. That idea stuck with me the last few days. We have so much stuff that we don’t need. The little one has so much toys she can’t find what she wants half the time or forgets that it’s even there. We buy something for 10p at a carboot and throw it in a drawer and three years later we have a lot of drawers filled with stuff. It’s the small things in life that are the building blocks of the life. The small successes, the small moments in time when I succeed in just being in the moment without thinking about what’s next or what happened yesterday. Life needs less to do lists.
I am a natural planner. When I get stressed, I start making lists and finding apps for lists and although planning is an integral part of living with a disability and a toddler, when you start to spend quality time on planning, it’s just a waste of time. So I get up from my computer, go outside into the garden, watch the little one water her herb garden and inspect her tomatoes, help her pick a few black berries that have sprung up haphazardly behind the shed and then I try to stop and take a breath and just relax.
“And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window panes;
There will be time, there will be time”.
T.S. Eliot – The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock