The End is Near. Do We Just Keep Working?
Time is my most precious resource. I am stingy with it. I’ll loan a friend money without a second thought, but if she wants my time, she better have a damn good reason.
In my 20s, despite the harried work schedule I took on to prove to the world that I had ambition, I still managed to snag some free time here and there. I exercised and went out to brunch; I also volunteered as a bilingual liaison for an immigrant rights group, wrote a novel, and talked to my neighbors.
Then I had kids.
Suddenly, I found, there wasn’t even so much as a minute of the day that belonged to me. Even when I managed to carve out 30 minutes to go running, I did it with a stroller in tow. Every morning, the alarm ripped me from a sleep that had already been interrupted multiple times throughout the course of the night. Every day, I got up, exercised, got my kids ready, took them to school/daycare, commuted downtown, worked the minimum viable 8.5 hours, picked up my kids from school/daycare, made dinner, ate dinner, got the kids to bed, talked to my husband, passed out.
Rinse and repeat.
My husband, who was in school for much of my children’s early years, was also often picking up or dropping off one of the kids, sometimes commuting three hours roundtrip to get to classes, and still contending with homework and exam prep during his “free time.”
The weekends were a blur of chores, playdates, errands, and customer service calls. They were more relentless than the weekdays, and by the time Monday rolled around, I often breathed a sigh of relief.
Here’s what happened when my time no longer belonged to me:
- I stopped writing. I lost my creative outlet. I lost my voice.
- I became a less generous neighbor and community member. I didn’t check in on the people around me. I didn’t pitch in if they needed help. I didn’t even know if they needed help, as I did little else than wave in passing.
- I withdrew from activism and civic engagement. I didn’t vote in local elections because I didn’t have time to research the candidates or the issues. I didn’t call my representatives…