Parenting with Enough Time

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A few years ago, a friend and I were having a conversation about wealth. This was just after graduating college as we looked optimistically and idealistically towards the future and our careers. I remember him saying, “I don’t want to be rich. I just want to have enough money to always be able to afford what I need at any given moment.” This statement seemed simple and agreeable enough. But, I pushed back. To have enough money to afford whatever you “need” (though I would argue “want” might masquerade as “need” from time to time) at any given point is the definition of being rich. Regardless of how much money we have, don’t we always want more? Isn’t there always something else we “need”? When are we ever satisfied with what we have? If we have a “nice” house, we can always have an even “nicer” one if only we had a bit more money. Regardless of what sort of car we have, we can always have a better one, if only we had more cash. It doesn’t matter how many shoes are in my closet, I don’t have any to match this one particular outfit, so I need to get another pair. And on it goes.

Parenting with Enough TimeLately I’ve been feeling, not so much short on money, but short on time. A few days ago, I nearly posted on Facebook that I could use another eight hours in a day. But, I was too busy to even log in, type and post. Maybe that’s not a bad thing though. Recently I have been trying to carve out time to read more of what I want, more of what uplifts, more of what points me to better instead of mindlessly scrolling through tweets and updates that often just distract, annoy or add no value to my life. One of the books I have been reading is “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” by Ann Voskamp. And, I came across this passage:

I speak it to God: I don’t really want more time; I just want enough time. Time to breathe deep and time to see real and time to laugh long, time to give You glory and rest deep and sing joy and just enough time in a day not to feel hounded, pressed, driven or wild to get it all done–yesterday. … I just want time to do my one life well. [page 67-8]

As I read Ann’s words, I was reminded of the conversation I’d had with that friend years ago. Wasn’t my hoping for more time or “enough” time to accomplish all I want in a day the same as wanting enough money to have all I want? Even if I could be granted another eight hours in a day, would that be enough? Would it be sufficient? Would I be satisfied? I know the answer. And, it’s no.

Let’s face it; even if I could have more time, I’d always want more. I’d get a taste of what I could do and accomplish in those extra eight hours, but then I’d long to know what another eight hours in a day would feel like. Imagine how much more I could write, how many books I could read, how many trips to the playground we could take, how much more time engaging the kids one-on-one I could have. But one thing is for certain, I’d always just want more.

And I know I’m not alone. So many conversations I’ve had lately with friends have been about busyness and feeling overwhelmed by schedules. Parenting is hard. It is time consuming and hectic. I look back at my pre-parent self and wonder what I did with all my time. Then I remember: I wrote a lot, I lounged, I watched enormous amounts of television, I napped, I slept in, I went to the gym, I hung out with friends and I went on vacations.

Parenting with Enough Time

When the little ones arrived, I assumed my life would look similar, but what I didn’t plan for was the amount of time raising them would take. With the diaper changes, the feedings, the nap schedules and more, my time whittled away. Now add in school schedules and activities, and some days I struggle to take a breath.

So, what do I do about this? I know that each day has equal time. The sun rises and it sets each day as the clock ticks by. And I have a choice. I can lament what I didn’t accomplish. I can mourn the dreams I haven’t actively pursued. Or I can take action. I can be more discerning about how I spend those 24 hours each day. I can give thanks for the time I do have, and choose to see those 24 hours as a gift, as sufficient.

I can also say, “no.” I can say “no” to the kids playing soccer, enrolling them in gymnastics, starting piano lessons or joining clubs. I can teach them by example that we can’t do it all and we can’t have it all. Even if those things are good and fun and opportunities to learn and grow, I can teach them that life isn’t always about pleasure. It’s about making choices.

Parenting with Enough Time

I agree with Ann when she said, “I just want time to do my one life well.” The thing that I need to remember is that I have been given that time. I just need to make sure it’s not getting buried under busyness or tossed aside due to distraction. The time I have been given is sufficient. Unlike wealth, we can’t earn more of it. But, just as with money, we can choose how we spend it. We can choose to be good stewards. We can choose to live this life well.

The question is, are you living it well right now?

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