The Place Where There Is Time for Everything

Daylight Savings Time, known to our European friends as summer time, was invented for the purpose of extending daylight hours past the end of a normal working day.  This, in theory, is supposed to allow one to get a lot more done whilst one can actually see what one is doing.  I am one of those folks who actually likes Daylight Savings Time – not because I get any more accomplished, but because I find the immediate darkness of winter a tad depressing.

With the recent change to Daylight Savings Time, it occurred to me that, perhaps instead of merely joking about it, we should actually explore increasing the number of hours in one day.  Because there simply isn’t enough time.

A wise nurse practitioner once gave me her opinion of why so very many people are taking antidepressants these days.  She doesn’t think that people are getting psychologically weaker and just taking the easy way out.  She believes it is because the human brain was not intended to take on the level of stress – due to multitasking – that we load on it in our very busy society.

People once lived simply.  They got up – after a full night’s sleep.  Presumably, more folks had a good night’s rest due to the lack of TVs, video games, and other electronic distractions.  Some of you who have ever forgotten to pay the electric bill may have discovered this for yourself.  They ate breakfast – because the kind of work they would be doing required it.  Then they went about their day and worked – the physical kind.  Because physical work reduces stress, they worked out many of their frustrations.  Then they went home.  Where, because they didn’t have telephones, cell phones, computers, passive entertainment, etc., they passed their time actually talking to their families.  Connecting to their loved ones.  Discussing their difficulties.  Perhaps reading a book or writing a letter.  Before too long, it was dark, and they went to bed – repeating the cycle over again.

They were not jumping in the car, racing to take Child A to dance class and Child B to soccer practice.  They weren’t on hold trying to get their cell and TV service switched.  They weren’t filling out paperwork or online forms for the million things we must do each day.  They worked hard, yes.  Very hard.  But they didn’t multi-task to the extent we do today.  So, despite all that needed to be done in their lives, their tasks didn’t increase in complexity from one moment to the next.

Contrast that with today’s world.  In the course of my day, I arrive to work, observe the bells, teach, discipline, talk to parents, answer the incessantly ringing phone, order books, process books, utilize 4 to 5 completely different databases/software programs, email multiple persons, copy, scan, direct aides, assist teachers, proofread, talk to students, recommend books, and so much more.  I have no doubt that most of you experience days similar to mine.  All while keeping in the back of your mind who you have to call tonight, what meeting you must attend, which doctor’s appointment to go to, which items you must buy at the grocery store, your child’s band concert, the birthday gift you must order online, the reservations you must make, get an oil change, pick up prescriptions, etc.

It’s not what our minds and bodies were designed to do.  Please do not misunderstand me.  I am by no means a nature girl and would not be the least bit thrilled if you invited me to ditch it all and live on a farming commune.  I like the modern world very much thank you.  But it doesn’t mean this was what nature intended for me.  So, in that nurse practitioner’s view, antidepressants are helping people’s brains to adjust to unnatural circumstances.  And, while I personally am not taking antidepressants, I happen to think she is correct about the unnatural mental burdens of the modern world and the need for modern medicine to alleviate it sometimes.

I thought she was correct years ago when she first said it.  But now it is beginning to take on new truth.  Callum has been having six private therapy sessions and one Early Steps infant child development specialist session a week.  He has to return for a look at his ear tubes.  We need to meet with the doctor to discuss trying him on melatonin.  Which brings to mind the insurance fiascos I have been having and the three separate phone calls I am supposed to make to 1-800 numbers constantly busy.  I am supposed to meet with a CARD representative soon and follow up through the university regarding behavioral therapy.  Last week he was diagnosed by an out of town specialist and yesterday was his IEP.  We are supposed to model language at all times, keep non-engaged stimming to a minimum, train him to tolerate joint attention type activities for increasing periods of time, attempt to engage him with the books he is completely uninterested with, use PECS, engage him with the iPad, and on and on and on.  All this while doing all the parenting things we would already normally be doing for both him and his typically developing – though exhaustively precocious – 4 year old sister.  While I’m working full-time and my husband is working on his degree.

I am not complaining about parenthood.  I am so very blessed to have my beloved little stinkers and know it.  But I am complaining about the lack of hours in the day to get done everything that must get done and still have time to sleep, catch up with loved ones, feel like a human being.  I am complaining about the ever-increasing speed and complexity of our lives.  Because the world wants way too much.  It wants too much if you aren’t parenting a special needs child or being a caregiver in some other capacity.  But, if you are, all of those must-dos for a loved one who cannot do them for themselves build up into a cacophony of mental strain that can cause insomnia, depression, lack of immunity, and exhaustion.

In researching a university behavioral therapy study for my son, I found another study being done by the same department suggesting that depressed mothers complete less child interaction homework than non-depressed mothers.  It occurred to me that, perhaps, the depression isn’t causing less therapeutic homework.  Maybe those mothers are depressed because there aren’t enough hours in the day to do said homework.  I know that I wouldn’t likely be posting to you if insomnia weren’t aiding my writing time.  There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.  I have felt enormous guilt over the things that I don’t have the time or energy to accomplish.  The extras I can no longer take on at work.  The repeated requests to have to take time off to go to this meeting, that doctor, or whatever keeps coming.

And the hard reality is that the world is too busy creating new demands upon itself to worry about how we are keeping all the juggling balls in the air.

No, I don’t want more daylight with my hours.  I want more hours with my daylight.

Years ago, I read a poem by the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai titled “A Man in His Life”.  It is about all the things we must do that we do not have time for in our limited existence on Earth.  I’ve read a few different translations* of it, but this one is the most beautiful to me:

“A Man in His Life”

A man in his life has no time to have

Time for everything.

He has no room to have room

For every desire. Ecclesiastes was wrong to claim that.

 

A man has to hate and love all at once,

With the same eyes to cry and to laugh

With the same hands to throw stones

And to gather them,

Make love in war and war in love.

 

And hate and forgive and remember and forget

And order and confuse and eat and digest

What long history does

In so many years.

 

A man in his life has no time.

When he loses he seeks

When he finds he forgets

When he forgets he loves

When he loves he begins forgetting.

 

And his soul is knowing

And very professional,

Only his body remains amateur

Always. It tries and fumbles.

He doesn’t learn and gets confused,

Drunk and blind in his pleasures and pains.

 

In autumn, he will die like a fig,

Shriveled, sweet, full of himself.

The leaves dry out on the ground,

And the naked branches point

To the place where there is time for everything.

* Translated from the Hebrew by Benjamin Harshav and Barbara Harshav

14 thoughts on “The Place Where There Is Time for Everything

  1. Karen

    Somehow, you always seem to know exactly how i am feeling. I only have one child, my 3 year old son, who is on the spectrum, but i am doing it alone. I am a single mom. I almost always feel there are just not enough hours in the day. i work full time and go to school one night a week, and try to take off time every my son has one of his countless appointments. I’m exhausted, frustrated, depressed and i feel utterly guilty that on some days i just don’t have the energy to do my “homework” with him. i want our life to be better than a welfare check but how can i keep going when i am being hounded at work for the time i need off for his countless appointments, i can barely get up every morning and there is my son, bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6 am, after finally falling asleep at 11 pm……. I just need more time…..

    1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      I’m right there with you, Karen. The sleep loss is a killer and the guilt so defeating. But you wouldn’t feel stressed or guilty about it if you didn’t care. Which means you are a good mom. Hmm. I guess that may mean I’m a good mom too, huh? Maybe we need to cut ourselves some slack. :)

  2. Jim Reeve

    I wish there was more time, so I try to enjoy the little things and relax as often as possible. That’s why I enjoy the winter time because my work season ends at Christmas.

    I also love the poem in your post. It does seem that sometimes when life gets rolling you can get lost a little.

    1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      That poem jumped out at me years ago. The last line to me is haunting and beautiful. There are some good translated compilations of Yehuda Amichai, if you are interested. His poetry is so thought provoking.

  3. Victoria Ferrante

    I am the mother of two autistic children. I, too, wish for more hours – 48 to be exact – in a day just so I can get everthing done, do something for myself, and have time to relax. As it is, I generally don’t get everything done because there is too much to do, and doing something for myself or relaxing is out of the question. My other thought was to be able to accompish everything, I needed to clone myself five times. I am struggling to get things done and I have a husband who helps. I can’t imagine doing it alone. Karen, my heart goes out to you.

    1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      I can’t imagine either. And I don’t mean that in the “Boy, your life stinks” kind of way, but in a “Kudos and thumbs up– You’re a force to be reckoned with” way.

  4. Ashley

    This post rings especially true. I sympathize with all of the great parents and guardians of Autistic children that are providing the best possible life and understanding for their children while not getting enough sleep and working so hard every hour of the day.

    Great post!

  5. Lexi Sweatpants Magnusson

    I am not ashamed to say I need antidepressants and ADHD meds. I’m a better mom because of them. I have a son with autism and a daughter with Down syndrome. I’m going to use every advantage I can, or at least make up for where I am lacking. I comparing myself to my own mother, who was a widow with six children. Had she been able to treat her own depression and ADHD like we do now I don’t think things would have been so hard on her, and then in turn, on us.

    1. Profile photo of FlappinessIsFlappinessIs Post author

      I wholeheartedly agree. There is often a stigma attached to them. That’s why I loved what that nurse told me. It made so much sense to me. Thanks for sharing that.

  6. Aspergers Mum

    Thank you so much for this post, today, this week, these past few months this is exactly where I am at, trying to hang in for a few more weeks, trying to hold it together!

    I keep thinking ‘every mum goes through this, just because we have a Aspergers boy doesn’t mean much’, but the little things do add up. having to plan to do things, plan to play so that they get the much needed learning, having to parent his younger 2 year old bro that is dependent on me as I am working so much!

    Thank you.

  7. momuv2boyz

    When I was struggling with whether or not to treat postpartum depression that I had tried to deal with on my own for 4 years, I asked my doctor why it seemed like everyone seemed to be on antidepressants; I didn’t want to hop onto the drug of choice for the day just because “everyone was taking them.” He gave me this EXACT same answer. It made quite a bit of sense to me also, and while I did take medication to even my neurochemicals back out for about a year and a half, I have also had to realize and accept that I cannot be Superwoman like I tried to be for so long. I have come to accept that the way I am made means I have to watch how busy I get. Otherwise, I get stressed, snappish, and not very pleasant to be around which isn’t fair to my family. I know people who can handle double what I do without seeming to bat an eye, but I just can’t. Having said that, I fail miserably at times (like right now) and still take on too much, but I have at least made an effort to scale back.
    I think we all need to take stock of what we can reasonably handle, and then do our best at paring down where we can. Unfortunately that is difficult, if not impossible with the way society runs these days. I am not the parent of a child on the spectrum, but am an SLP who works with many kiddos and knowing their parents, I have no idea how they (and you) juggle it all. God bless all of you and may you have rest and peace, at least in those moments when you can. :) Karen, hang in there!!!

  8. Megan

    Love this post (as I do all of your posts). It is spot on and so very true. I feel like a hamster sometimes running in the hamster wheel trying to get things done on the daily to do list:-( There is never enough time in the day to get it all done. I constantly feel guilty, but it is nice to know I am in good company.

  9. Sue

    Leigh,
    I agree completely my friend! Once again you said it better than anyone else could. BTW I hate Daylight Savings Time because we do not go on it and it makes it harder for me to call my family and friends on Eastern time. There is a six hour time difference now instead of five. :(

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