The clock behind me in our dark kitchen is ticking and tocking loudly in the unusual quiet of this early morning. It's a finger-wagging tick tock: that Clock knows how long I've been sitting here with my coffee cup full, laptop open, screen blank. Tick! Tock! Tick! Tock! Get a move on, it seems to be saying.
I get my move on a whole lot, Clock, I fire back defensively in between its rude ticks and tocks. Overlooking the kitchen and the playroom, it has a a perfect vantage point to bear witness to all my moves, all day long. I'm in that kitchen many hours each day, recommitting myself to healthy meals for my three kids, my husband, myself. Every day I want to take a shortcut and call the pizza place a mile down the road or reach for processed, boxed items from the pantry rather than take the time to assemble and create fresh meals from the refrigerator. Most days, the non-pizza, non-boxed, time-intensive fresh stuff of my own making wins.
That time-keeper, minute-counting Clock knows how much time, how many minutes I spend cleaning up our kitchen. As my friend says, you can start on one side of the counter, and by the time you're finished and at the other side of the kitchen, the spot you started is cluttered again. To be honest, I'm not the cleanest person, so serious effort is seriously required. It is a Sisyphean task of Herculean proportion.
And if Clock looks out its other eye, towards the playroom, it knows I get my move on over there. I'm one of those get-down-on-the-floor-with-the-kids mom. I build train sets and help with puzzles. I craft my own Lego creation and help figure out why the Lincoln logs are falling over. I sing "Let it Go" with my daughter and applaud after my son sings and strums "The Bear Necessities." The proximity of playroom to kitchen is often not conducive to having me help--the siren call of a messy kitchen often wins over assisting another child in another way. But overall, it works.
Overall, I work. Imperfectly, of course, but there really is no other way.
The ticks and the tocks never stop. They never, ever stop. That clock always reminds me to hurry up and pay attention to these kids, this time with them. To do them well in these early years with my own time and my own energy. Hurry up and slow down, Kate. Spend more time in these two rooms, nourishing and playing. (And not just them, but you, too.)
Tick! Tock! Tick! Tock! Tick! Tock!