Clocks, Strangers & Spare Time

reader request: could you please talk about me? I feel lost.

How many times?

How many times have you laughed when you unexpectedly have a few minutes alone and think: I don’t even know what to do with myself.

We never used to have this problem. Before our kids came along, we knew how to use our time, how to eek the joy out of every minute. Lazy Sunday? Late night Saturday? Leaving work a few moments early Friday afternoon? Oh, yes. We ruled the clock.


We knew exactly how we wanted to spend our time.

Because we knew ourselves.

Now we sit in bemused paralysis, laughing because we have no idea how to enjoy a few minutes of spare time.

But it isn’t funny.

Because it means we no longer know ourselves.

Last night my before-kids life as an astrophysics geek collided with my now-kids life as we stood in the crisp night air and watched the Super Moon Lunar Eclipse. It’s an event that won’t happen again for 18 years. By then, Cole will be 32. Eleanor will be 27. And I will be, well, I will be even older.

Parenthood is so often crammed with the demands of childhood that for 18 years we ignore ourselves. Don’t get me wrong–we eat, sleep, exercise. But we ignore the me. And in the process of losing ourselves, we are filled with exhaustion, defeat, anger. It’s a paradox. The more we give of ourselves in the name of being the best parents, the less well we parent. Taking care of ourselves isn’t self-care, it’s systemic care.

So this morning I’m watching the full moon sink towards the western horizon. I’m taking the time, making the time, to remember me. Taking the time, making the time, to be a better parent.

How will you remember you today? What will you do to stop and re-orient your center? Something small. Something short. Something that takes you back into you.

Find your zen.

Not your Super Moon Lunar Eclipse Zen. Nothing capitalized. Just your small, run-of-the-mill, lower-case zen. The zen that reminds you of you. The zen that prevents you from becoming a stranger. Then do it again, this afternoon. And tonight, do it then, too.

Because the moon, no matter what phase she is in, is beautiful.


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