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So, what's the deal with time?

My rhubarb is contemplating a growth spurt. The crocus made their decision to bloom. Me? I am fine with winter hanging on a little longer. The recent snow flurries were good for my soul. After all, how did it become March so quickly? Didn’t we just celebrate the New Year? I’m not even through finding Christmas decorations that missed the grand exodus to storage.

Time is problematic for me. On the one hand, a day can seem never-ending. I crack out my to-do list, pack the day’s needs into my backpack and head off to work. Part way through the day I’m sure it’s time to wrap things up. I look at my watch and am shocked to find it’s only one o’clock.

On the other hand, a month can fly by and a year becomes a blur. I can hardly remember the passing January and February. Yet, no matter how long I stare at the calendar, it says “March.” How is it that a month is but a moment when it is made of 30 eternally-long days?

If I look back, I can’t remember the routine duties that made time trudge by. There are some moments of the last few months that seem frozen in time. In January, we had a funeral for our parakeet. A week later we celebrated the arrival of our mail-ordered tadpoles. All three of my kids have become a year older. One night I threw the family into a frenzy by accidentally melting a vinyl chair on the hot glass of our gas fireplace. These are the memorable times, where time goes too fast – the pieces of the calendar you want to camp in.

Perhaps my trouble with time is not so much the clock’s fault as it is my heart’s. I think of days like today. I took all three kids shopping. We had quite a list. At first, I marched us through a few stores. I re-evaluated the list. We had not accomplished much. So I drove us to the mall and set a difficult pace designed to conquer the list.

I soon realized that I had the kids with me... but their hearts were dragging behind. I began to get frustrated. Time was ticking and we were only finished with 3 of the 14 items on the list. We needed to get serious! Just then I noticed my son looking at a bowl of stones that were for sale, and my daughters fingering different beaded necklaces and laughing.

How dare they mess around with things NOT ON THE LIST! Did they forget we were in a hurry? I paused, trying to figure out how I was going to get them back on track when I realized they were having fun and I wasn’t. “WE” were not in a hurry, I was. I stopped to talk to them about the things they were looking at. It only took a couple minutes and we moved on to the next store. In the end, we laughed a lot, we got most of the things on the list and we came home with our sanity.

Today’s schedule could have been merely duty. Some of it was. But… some of it has become a memory to enjoy — a piece of time frozen in the photo album of my mind. I desperately need more photos like that. I don’t want to get to my kid’s graduation and wonder where the years went.

Duties and routine must be tended to, but there are still anxious crocus to notice and snowflakes to catch on your tongue along the way. Live in the moment and force time to stand still.

Kerri Hofmann has worked and lived in Federal Way with her three children since 1997.

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