Monday, October 12, 2009

The burden of time

Sorry that it’s been a while between posts. I have been on a family holiday. And I use that word advisedly. I mean, I do appreciate a change of scene and all, but ‘holiday with children’… more like shifting the whole shebang to somewhere with fewer distractions and less support.

At one point, I even found myself fantasising about having myself thrown in gaol for a couple of weeks (months?). I was thinking new exercise regime, learning a new language, perhaps even one of those creative writing courses they teach in prisons nowadays…

Sorry, I exaggerate (a little). The holidays were mostly fun. And how good to have a couple of weeks without the crazy school/kinder/work/drop-off/pick-up/make someone’s lunch/dinner routine. But, oh, how I miss a lazy morning in bed reading a book...

So back to reality. Or perhaps the reality we create.

In the post today, I received a review copy of the latest Buddhism for Mothers book, the somewhat awkwardly but straightforwardly titled Buddhism for Mothers of Schoolchildren by Sarah Napthali.

I have to admit I have not properly read the original book, though other mothers mention it in conversation all the time. But I took a quick peek at this new one, read the first line of the first chapter (titled ‘Stress’ — ha ha, why would that be?!) and think I have to read this book.

“Mothers of schoolchildren can have a tense relationship with time and, in some cases, an obsessive attachment to using it efficiently,” writes Napthali.

Isn’t this the wonderful thing about writing — someone else always manages to describe some emotion or thought or idea you believed was just your own particular neuroses, and suddenly you realise it’s a common, explainable feeling?

Tense would be putting it mildly, for me. I have a perverse relationship with time — almost as perverse as my relationship with housework (and very much related).

I now find myself regularly writing time as ‘TIME’. Sorry, I’m not yelling, exactly, but time has come to be one of those hugely loaded terms for me. One of those big words, like LOVE or MONEY.

As I wrote in The Divided Heart, I don’t think I even had a relationship with time before I had children. Now that every moment alone has to be bought, borrowed, begged or stolen, I feel like I’ve gone to the other extreme — unhealthily attached to making every minute count.

Which of course only becomes it’s own burden — because even when you’ve “decided just to relax” (how’s that for an oxymoron), you’ve still got the clock ticking in the back of your head.

Multi-tasking has become such a habit for me now that I find myself doing it obsessively at times when it is just not useful. For example, when trying to write — which would actually benefit from a bit of single-minded focus.

It can become a tad ridiculous when you find yourself trying to brush your teeth, make a phone call and do the dishes at the same time. And, no, unfortunately I am not making that up! It wasn't until the other person answered their phone that I realised it just wasn’t going to work.


kate fern said...

I have a good friend who often jokes about how she can get put in jail so she can get on with some art...

You have hit the nail on the head about time, as soon as I have a minute to myself the pressure is on. I look forward to reading the new Buddhism for mothers I really enjoyed the first two.

little red hen said...

I found myself discussing the issue of art verses motherhood with a young shop assistant/artist who is debating whether to have children and the effect it may have on her artistic life. It was a deep conversation, i recommended your book which she had heard of and was considering purchasing. I paid for my pants which were on special and my friend who was with me asked. "How do you know her, was she a student?"
I didn't know her at all and don't ask me how we arrived at this deep conversation but then as my daughter laments I am a 'random talker'. I also recommended she seeks out your blog as I am sure she would find your thoughts an discussions interesting. I could have chatted with her at length. I hope she finds her answer.

Rachel Power said...

Isn't that the lovely thing about women?! They talk. That's why The Divided Heart works--because women are so willing to be completely open and generous and raw with each other. And mothers often even more so. Thank you for recommending it to someone. A woman at a talk I did once asked me if the book would help her make the decision whether or not to have kids. It was the hardest question I've had yet! I hope, if nothing else, it might do something to help inform the choice. If nothing else, it's an insight into the reality!

D said...

Hi Rachel,
Long time no visit. I've just unearthed from 3 months of self-dividing morning sickness (yes). Tonight I'm cruising the internet and all of the graphic motion doesn't induce blahgh-pfft-eiw-ggggh.

Have you finished the book? If so, what are your thoughts? I've picked up the first Buddhism for (peace seeking) mummy-types many times and not quite managed to buy it.

Hope you're well,

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, the ticking clock when you are trying to relax makes it all kind of pointless doesn't it? And yes, I do find it impacts my ability to write too.

But what really made me laugh was your comments about family 'holidays' - so true!! We are going down the coast for a week soon, and I'm fantasising about how good it will be... we'll see.

(logging in with wordpress id this time, to see what happens, since typepad id gave me a name that was just a string of random characters - but anyway it's Kirsten, from narrating kayoz here)

PS I loved the orginal Buddhism for Mothers. Must read it again and see if I took any of it on board actually!