I've been known to scrawl "busy" on blank days on the calendar so that when people ask me to check my schedule I can honestly say, "my calendar says I'm busy." I sometimes have availability issues. I have a tendency to make myself too available, which means I quickly become unavailable, because I'm going here and there and everywhere accommodating other people's schedules and interests.
There have been periods of my life when time has been so completely mine that I craved a more demanding schedule. Then I will get to a period where I find myself really wanting nothing more than some time to sit with myself inside my head and turn off all the noise around me.
I keep thinking that one day I will hit upon the key to perfecting the balance.
When the kids were little, one of my favorite things to do was to just take the time to sit and watch them. I usually had to be circumspect about it. I'd "read" a book nearby or work on some sort of project (bills or something not interesting enough to draw their attention to me) at the table so that we were together in a sense that we were all in the same general area but not together, necessarily, in our activities. Those moments would leave me feeling enormously content. If I had anything at all to do with the fact that these wondrous little beings were on this earth, I must be doing something right.
Yesterday, I came home and made myself lunch. The kids had already eaten with their dad and were busy in the living room writing (or performing?) poetry and playing Wii. I sat down at the table and then realized that if I slid to the other end of the table, I could watch them -- physically see them rather than just listen to their banter. I was reminded of those days when they were little and I would simply sit and observe, though their very presence is so much larger now... and louder on this occasion.
There was a little girl with her daddy standing at our corner a few days ago, playing in the stack of snow the plows had left behind. She was so tiny, a complete and perfect human in miniature form. And I closed my eyes and tried to remember. So little time has passed since my own kids were that tiny. Fiercely independent and yet dependent. Needing me to tie their shoes, then not needing me though shoe tying took so much longer without my help. Needing me to help with their mittens, then not needing me because they are "fine without, thanks, Mom" or simply already have it covered.
Time has been the most worthy thing I have given in my life as a mother so far, and now I sometimes fill that time with other things. I like to believe that this is a gift for them, as well. There was a time they may have appreciated my being there to help fill their time; now less so.
There are days it occurs to me that this "busy-ness" of mine is part of the balance, so that I do not become that overbearing mother of tweens/teens, filler and prioritizer of time. I may ache a little for the slower-paced days when they were tiny, but these complete and perfectly human kids of mine, no longer in miniature form, are entirely capable of managing their own time.
And the bonus is that they still seem to be pleased when my time becomes theirs again. They are happy to share it. They are eager, at least much of the time, to invite me into their activities and their goings on.
And I hope they aren't afraid to tell me when I've gone too far out of balance, to say, "Mom, we need more time."