I Have Measured Out My Life With Coffee Spoons

I grow old… I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

The second I went into labor with Elder Girleen, my relationship with Time completely changed (and then, when I went into labor with Younger Girleen, it changed even more: I’m here to tell you there’s nothing as brief as the 90 seconds between one contraction and the next when you are in “back labor,” and nothing as long as the amount of time each one of those contractions lasts).

On the other hand, it may not be that it’s having kids that makes time move so quickly most of the time now: it could just be that we bought a VW Passat Wagon (apparently there was a tiny yuppie sell-out buried in my unconventional heart) a few months after Elder Girleen was born, and Passats are equiped with tripometers that can tell you just how long you’ve been driving around Atlanta dropping kids off at school, running by the grocery store, and popping in Target for green tights because fool that you are, you sold both daughters on the idea of being Apple Blossom Fairies for Halloween, and as any idiot knows, Apple Blossom Fairies have to wear green tights.

A month ago, Younger Girleen started going to preschool three mornings a week, and for about 7.3 minutes I harbored the delusion that this was going to open up huge vistas of Time in my life. 12 hours a week! Add in the hour from 5:30- 6:30 every morning, and gee — I could write a novel in my spare time! But now, thanks to the engineering whizzes at VW, I realize how much of my day I spend in the car, and I’m here to tell you that this is really a good thing. On days when Younger Girleen is in school, I spend anywhere from 30 minutes on up in the car just getting her there and back, which is too much information, even for me. (I know, I know, you’re thinking why doesn’t she just put her child in a closer preschool, or fit in another hour after the kids are in bed, or write novels in her head while she’s driving).

The scary thing is that occasionally I wonder now if VW (or someone) magically installed some strange tripometer in my head as well, because now I can calculate time and the details that suck it from your life as exactingly as an accountant. Sometimes this is great, because, for example, I now know that I can shop for a week’s worth of groceries (as well as spend a huge sum of money) at Whole Foods in approximately 37 minutes. I can also spend exactly the same amount of time buying a single gallon of milk at the Kroger two minutes from my house, though I won’t spend near as much money.

I now know that I can push the limits of one hour so that it can include:

waking up two children and a husband
making and feeding two children oatmeal
eating my own breakfast
making one sack lunch
emptying the dishwasher
dressing two children
dressing myself
brushing my own teeth and that of two children
Getting two children, lunches, backpacks, library books, etc etc into the car and on the way to school

Back in the youth that I now realize was wasted upon me, I couldn’t even get a cup of coffee drunk in that amount of time.

P.S. Here’s an example of how the accounting works: Target has perfectly acceptable fairy costumes for 14.95, but does not carry green tights. However, due to the fact that I wasted approx 13.2 minutes ordering fairy wings online, if I buy Target costumes I will possess four sets of fairy wings (one for each member of the family). Which will take more time, returning fairy wings or finding green tights? And have you just had complete confirmation of my insanity?

1 Comment

  1. The value of an hour is the one thing I wish I knew as a childless woman, a mother of one and even two. I laugh (and cry) when I look back at how much time we didn’t know we had. Whenever I see a woman pregnant with her first I want to hold her down and inject her with the knowledge that the time is NOW!!!

    I’m loving your blog in Austin, TX.

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