This year, by which I mean the variety of year that begins in September, we are a much busier family. My eldest has tried out for every sport offered at his school, which has meant more early mornings and after-school practices. We’ve added select hockey to the slotted obligations of the week, and this has played havoc with my beloved routine of reading aloud to all the boys every night. When we don’t manage it, the missed time weighs heavily on me. There are the fixed times for swimming and chess and the moving pieces of playdates and parties. The big boys are both in after-school math enrichment, which means not only the week night it takes up, but the homework that must be done on other nights of the week. I’ve tried to keep that homework out of our weekends, but sometimes it does just end up there, and on Sunday we must face the week’s undigested lump of things to do.
We live by charts and schedules, and I’m tottering under the weight of those shaded blocks of time, the weight of what they add up to and what we might have lost by committing to all of them.
As busy as I feel, I always manage to think that other people are more busy and manage it with more grace and efficiency. It seems to me that other people make it look so much more weightless, this thing called life. And I am under no illusions; I know that it will only get busier. One of us is still only three. My mother-in-law told me today that when her twin boys were born, the youngest of five brothers, the three older boys had a combined total of between 15 and 21 hockey games or practices in a week. She looked forward to the weeks with only 15. My husband already lives at the rink, and that’s with only two.
What is so difficult to keep in mind as we make our way through each solid, shaded block of time is how fragile and impermanent these days really are. This great, solid mass of the family calendar actually rests on nothing so firm that it can be called a block or a chunk or a lump. What heavy words we use, what weight we feel, for something so light and fleeting.