Time fries

If "time flies when you're having fun," then we must all be having a blast.

We're all so busy -- none more so than we parents who work at home -- that there's never enough time to accomplish all we need to do. Work, meetings, housework, yardwork, school events, doctor's appointments and family obligations all compete for our time.

Time becomes our enemy, our rival in the Great Race. We cut corners wherever we can, trying to get the jump on time. We eat fast food. We drive too fast. We sleep too little. We go around sleep-deprived and punch-drunk, hammered by the passage of time.

Doesn't it feel that the days race by, that months rocket past, that the seasons are elbowing each other out of the way? Maybe it's simply a product of aging, but each year seems shorter than the last. Each calendar page seems more crowded with hastily jotted events and reminders.

I blame my children. Before my wife and I had kids, time seemed to yawn before us. We always had time to plan vacations, then time to take vacations. Our social calendar was a source of fun, not one more time pressure. Working overtime never seemed a problem. We had all the time in the world.

But children speed up your life. They demand attention and supervision, and all of that gobbles up the clock. Their sleepovers and homework and after-school activities crowd our calendars. And, as if we needed reminding of how quickly time passes, they insist on growing. You can never forget how fast time is slipping away because the kids keep getting taller and requiring larger clothes, and you must find time to shop for them.

Other ways of measuring time surround us. I usually don't wear a wristwatch -- a mild rebellion against the tyranny of time -- but clocks are everywhere. In the car, on every wall, on the computer. Clocks wake us, hurry us through our days, then tell us that, once again, we're late getting to bed.

Even when I can't see a clock, I can usually determine what time it is. I sneak peeks at other people's wrists. Sometimes, I even ask "What time is it?" People look at me like I'm crazy, like there's no way they'd go around watch-free. They're all slaves to time, the manacles around their wrists.

The same goes for calendars. Even we who work at home, distanced from the go-go business world, almost always know the date. Sometimes, it seems like the calendar pages are flying away, the way they used to show time passing in old movies.

At our house, we have two main calendars. One sits on my desk, and it's where I jot all my writing and errands and public appearances and chores that I must accomplish. The other hangs on the refrigerator and it's supposedly the place where we record all the family events -- bake sales and Scout meetings and birthday parties and haircut appointments. These two calendars rarely agree on anything. Before I commit to, say, lunch out with a friend, I have to consult both calendars to make sure I'm not painting myself into a corner of Rescheduling Hell.
My wife has another calendar on her desk at work. At least once a week, we're on the phone, flipping calendar pages, trying to coordinate who will do what when. It's a sad state of affairs when spouses are forced to schedule meetings with one another.

The ways to measure time keep getting more advanced. Businesspeople went from carrying around overstuffed Day-Timers to carrying around Palm Pilots on which every appointment is electronically etched. Watches beep at us. Those accursed cellular phones read out the time, along with messages about all the meetings you've got scheduled.

I'm not going there. I've got enough reminders that we're hurtling along through time. I told someone recently that my fingers are simply too big to operate those little pocket organizers. If your hands are large enough to palm a basketball, I said, then they're too big to operate a Palm Pilot.

Besides, I don't need them. I can just lean back in my chair and watch my sons grow some more.

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