Ever since I have been writing this blog, I write something about “time” after Christmas. It’s a subject that weighs heavily on our minds this time of the year. My post this year is dedicated to Teresa, a young mother who has two young children – a baby and one in kindergarten. Like most mothers today, she hardly has enough time to take care of her family, help earn a living, or even think about what it was like for her and her sisters to have grown up on a farm in Schoharie County, NY.
When I was growing up the Bupp Family Farm (The Last of the Family Farms) I didn’t really feel being pressured so much by time and schedules. Our day was more or less controlled by the sun. Rise up early enough to milk the cows and cool the milk before the milk truck came, eat breakfast at 7:00 am in time to get dressed to catch the bus for school. Begin feeding and milking the cows at 4:30 pm in the afternoon in time for supper (dinner as we call it now) at 6:30 pm. It was a schedule set by my father and his business of milking dairy cows. The schedule was reinforced by an old wind up mantle clock which sat in the kitchen. Only my father carried a pocket watch. We boys did not need one.
Time didn’t really start to weigh upon my shoulders until I went to college and my classes began at 7:00 am. It was this experience that forced me to start to mange my time so I could go to class, have time to eat, time to play my trumpet in the marching band, time to do my studies in the evening, and then time for enough rest at night so that I could start all over the next day. But it was my working at IBM which really sharpened my awareness of time. IBM manufactured many of the early time clocks at Endicott, NY. Those big old oak-cased clocks tracked the schedules of working men and women. It was at IBM that I learned all of the tricks of scheduling, prioritizing, and multi-tasking my work load. I caution my readers on taking these kinds of lessons too seriously as we all have the same amount of time: rich, poor, single, married, divorced, children or no children. Just 24 hours in each day. No more, no less. And trying to increase your daily output is like trying to overfill a barrel with rocks: once it’s full, it’s full! Nothing more can be added.
But now that I am retired, I finally have enough time. Yes, I still write out my daily “to do” list of what I want to accomplish for the day, but I don’t allow myself to get upset if the list is not completed as I just add those undone things to the next day’s list! But there are some things that I wish I could do now that I have the time: I wish that I could go back to the days when my mother needed my help with the dishes and I didn’t give it, or to the time when my daughter was very young and she would sit on my lap. I wish that I would have come home from work on time every night so we all could have had dinner together or perhaps even leave work early to watch my son play baseball. But, the time for those things has long gone as you can never reverse the direction of time.
So Teresa, do those things that need to be done: Hug your husband and your children when they need your attention. And leave some time for yourself so that you can do some of the things that you want to do. The rest of the stuff is just like the rocks that you used to pick up on your family farm; they will wait to be picked up some other time!