Making Time, Holding Space

by Abby on December 21, 2016

Monday, 2 p.m. T-minus 4 days till Christmas break starts and my free time ends. I don’t have much time. I should be running to Michael’s, Target, maybe Kohl’s (do I have that coupon?). I need to get picture frames for the kids’ school photos I was guilted into buying. (What kind of parent doesn’t purchase school photos?! A cheap one with a drawer full of unflattering wallet-sized mug shots with bedhead, that’s what kind.) But I got ’em this year, and now I’ve gotta give ’em away to the grandparents.

But instead of shopping, I’m at the gym. Squeezing in a quick cardio workout and then a long-overdue shower. I don’t have time for personal hygiene. Luckily, I work from home. I know from experience, however, that exercise is crucial for my physical, mental, and emotional health. So I make time, squeezing my workouts into cracks, stretching out yoga, strength training, and cardio over several days if I have to, which I usually do. Because I don’t have much time.

Squeezing in a workout before the school bus comes

I spot another mom I know and I smile. Because we’re doing the same thing. “I’ve gotta pick up the kids in an hour, I should be at the grocery store…” she calls out, as she punches buttons on the treadmill. From my spot on the mat, I laugh as do my calf stretches. “I know! Me too.” We don’t have much time.

Time is such a funny thing. As fluid as a stream, as elastic as a rubber band. When I was a kid, there was too much of it. Long, dull, interminable afternoons spent lying on my bedroom carpet, wishing I was somewhere, anywhere else. I couldn’t wait to grow up, start living my life. Really living.

As a young adult, I still had too much time. Time spent waiting, worrying, wondering. When would I find my passion? When would I meet The One? What if I never did? What if these things didn’t exist? What if I’m wasting my time? My life?

Then I got married, had kids. Suddenly, I had no time. Especially no time to myself. Where did it go? What was I doing? My days were an endless blurry loop of nursing, diapers, laundry, not-sleeping. I wanted to write again, to eat/sleep/leave the house again, but I couldn’t find the time. There just wasn’t enough time.

Now my kids are older. They’re in school most of the day. But still, the time doesn’t stretch the way I thought it would. My calendar fills up too quickly with household chores and school events and adult obligations that take up so much freaking time. (Jury duty! Car maintenance! Bill paying! Scheduling and waiting for deliveries and repairmen! Adulting is so overrated.) I blink and it’s time to go meet the school bus.

So I steal time: for reading, watching TV, phone calls with faraway friends. I make time: to exercise, cook dinner, sleep 8 hours a night. I stretch time: by multitasking (folding laundry while listening to podcasts), batching errands (I won’t drive more than 3 miles unless I can knock at least 2 things off my list in the process), by meditating (I don’t understand how it works, but 10 minutes each morning adds white space to my day).

I am good at making time for what’s important to me. I am working on making space for those things that haven’t arrived yet. It’s all too easy to fill up all my time and space with all those to-do’s.

Today I read something by author Danielle Laporte, titled “Holding out. The most underrated spiritual act there is.” She writes,

Good things come to those who … hold out. You ask the universe for someone awesome to fill the role of lover, team player, or power broker. You ask for a change of scenery. And then something close enough happens. And you do the cosmic shrug and think, “Well, close enough.” It’s new. It’s different. But … new and different are not the same as resonant and deeper. You have to hold out for that kind of magic.

…It’s so damn easy to settle, to just take the first good offer, to roll with it sooner rather than later. Particularly when you’re hungry. Especially when you’re in pain. And definitely after you have been very, very patient.

…Hold out, love. Be alone. Keep doing the work. Go without. Let the space you want to be filled stay open and clear. It requires more strength but as it turns out, holding out is seriously efficient. You won’t have to untangle as much, or backtrack, or extricate yourself from all the things that you could have compromised on.

You’re worth the wait.

{This post is part of the #Reverb16 writing challenge I am participating in this month, in response to the Day 21 prompt: How do you prioritize your time? What would you like to make more time for? You can find out more about Reverb and how to participate here.}

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lou Mello December 22, 2016 at 8:12 am

Time is so precious, it goes by so fast at different times of your life. You are probably the busiest you will ever be until the boys are grown and out of the house. Then you’ll re-set your time frames and other things will fill up your day. I’m retired and busier now than I’ve ever been, but, it’s by choice. I fill my schedule with things I am passionate about such as Rotary Youth Exchange, Interact, Rotaract, Global Scholars and Rotary Youth Leadership Training.
Here’s to your future time choices. 🙂


Abby December 24, 2016 at 9:38 pm

You’re right, Lou. This is just one season of my life.

I have seen so many retired people struggle with how to fill their time once it’s all up to them. Kudos on filling yours with things you’re passionate about!


Abby January 4, 2017 at 11:16 pm

Well said. Tasking is an adult problem I could do without! I am a fan of Danielle LaPorte and this excerpt is awesome. I struggle with time as well as a work at home momma. Nice to see an ally.


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