Me Time in the Margins

Bea’s current favorite manipulative phrase is, “I just haven’t had enough daddy time!” (Or mama time or grandma time or whomever she thinks will give her what she wants time…) Today, I told Bea that I needed some me time.

She had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. In Bea’s perfect world, we would all breathe, eat, and sleep together. It would be rare for a moment to pass without some sort of physical contact and we would snuggle down and nest.
That sounds like some sort of horror to me. In fact, the thing I long for most is 24-hours to myself. No one else. When Frank joked that I would be bored, I totally didn’t get the “joke” and was furious that he would suggest that.

IMG_9633
My constant companion

My reality is that me time is tough – if not impossible on some days. Right now, I’m writing this on the floor with Elle popping herself out of the boppy and Bea curled up, playing a puzzle game on my phone and exceeding her allotted screen time for the day. (And even that doesn’t stop her running commentary.)

I was talking with some fellow writers in a Facebook group about finding time to write everyday and one woman said, “You learn to like Calliou if you have to.”

And that’s the point, I guess. There’s never a perfect time. I have a few unfinished drafts of posts that sound choppy because they are because I wrote them in spare moments, grabbed here and there. I’ll go through and edit and eventually post them – hopefully. And I’ll settle for good but not perfect.

Reading War & Peace while Elle sleeps and Bea is in dance class.
Reading War & Peace while Elle sleeps and Bea is in dance class.

In this year of embracing enough, I’m also learning to embrace not enough. There’s not enough time, but there never will be and so I’m learning to squeeze my own life-giving activities and projects into the margins. And those margins add up to something bigger.

So, if you see a typo or an incoherent sentence, remember I’m typing this with a baby in my lap and a preschool talking by my side. And let that be a reminder to take time to fill your margins with things that make you happy, even if the setting or the timing isn’t quite perfect.

How do you make time for things that bring you joy? (This isn’t just a mom thing – finding time is tough for most of us!) Any practical tips or advice?

PS- There’s a whole book about this called The Fringe Hours. I haven’t read it yet, but after reviewing this, it sounds like I need to. Have you read it? Recommend?

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10 thoughts on “Me Time in the Margins

  1. I guess I can speak to this…aside from having pancreatic cancer, I have a sanctuary for unwanted and abused Pit Bulls…and have to use a standing desk (which is bloody hard to work with, under the circumstances)…else I would have a half-dozen desperately needy 90-pound dogs climbing into my lap.

    Writing simply has to fit around that.. So does everything else, because my main and perhaps sole value of my life is what I can do for these guys. They’ve been through enough. The need a Morning Star, and I’m it.

    BTW, I agree with Frank. You’d be bored. As much as the Pits take from me, they give back far more. Life is lived in context, and I have learned that even a 24-hour vacation would be worse than useless. THIS is where I am. I may feel overwhelmed…and sometimes I do…but relief, even for a moment, would only bring a profound emptiness.

    Al Sever, in “Xin Loi, Viet Nam”, wrote that our ‘rights’ are nothing, and responsibility is everything. I could not agree more.

    1. I’m not sure I’m going to tell Frank he has a backer… 😉 But I do love that quote – responsibility is everything. I think we put “responsible” in such a negative light, but it truly is a privilege.

  2. Annie, I love this post, and my heart is with you, friend. I remember the days of non-stop, attention-needing toddler/babies. it’s draining, and I totally don’t think you’d be bored with 24 hours of time for yourself. You’d miss your kiddos, but then you’d be refreshed and ready to go back to them. 🙂

    As for tips, something that helped me was having some time scheduled in the day when the kids rested. They may not have slept (especially my oldest), but they had to spend some time in their beds. My oldest looked at books, while my younger one slept. That quiet time gave me a little breathing space. I just introduced as part of what Takenakas do.

    Sometimes, to get in a quiet time, I would put in a Veggie Tales video. It wasn’t ideal, but it helped. It’s okay to give yourself a little break during the day. We need to fill our tanks because we pour so much out into our families. Your oldest will adapt eventually if you give her rest/reading/whatever-you-want-to-call it time each day. 🙂

    I don’t know if this helps. Sending you a hug today.

    BTW, I love your word for the year. I sat under the tutelage of Enough a couple years ago. It was life-changing for me.

    1. Love your tips! I’m trying to be more intentional about that – giving Bea screen time when I need it most… Today, I felt depleted and remembered that my own tank needed to be filled before I could take care of others….

      Thank you for the reminder that we can have a word more than one year – that is so freeing! I was talking with my aunt today and she said “enough” could be her life word. I guess we never truly arrive… 😉

  3. Hey Annie, thanks for your thoughts which are, as usual, thought-provoking. That might sound cheesy, but it’s true. I don’t think you’d be bored if you had 24 hours to yourself, either. And I doubt you’d miss your kids. Not because you are hard-hearted but because you would value the time and space to do something other than look after the immediate needs of your dependents. Parenting is a relentless task and to me, a 24-break sounds more like an oasis than an exile! BTW, I still remember you taking ‘day retreats’ in and around Paris – what a great model of taking time to reflect and get away mentally and physically from the stimulation of the city. Do it again as soon as you can carve out 24 hours for yourself! (Easier said than done, I know. x)

    1. I’m sticking with my 24 hours alone request for Mother’s Day… (Since Elle should be more self-sufficient by then!) I love that you remember my day retreats – I do need to remember that they are part of what keeps me rejuvenated. Thank you.

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