It’s a term often used in relation to grief. I mentioned as such in my post about mothering motherless. Time spent, heals.
Looking at the other side of the fence: Time given heals too.
I’m talking about cracks.
You know those fine cracks that appear in family life, and personally too? The ones that start so small, you hardly notice them? And you just keep going, hoping they will close? But the ground is dry. And when there is not much rain, the cracks grow.
I recognise such cracks now, while they are still quite small. I’ve learned the value of taking the time to water the ground when it’s dry. But it’s not always easy, because life goes on, and often the same pressures are still there too. Something has to give. And often, that something, is time.
Time given. Time wasted even, in the right places.
Our family experienced some blows in the last 3 months — tough, tough stuff for people very close to us — and along with the regular frantic pace of modern family life, we keenly feel the strain. There’s emotional grief to carry, and the consequences of that, plus family time — always a premium — there was a point where it was almost non-existent!
The cracks manifest in many ways: fatigue, irritability, behavioural issues, bickering between the kids (more than usual), and I can tell you: family life is not very fun and I don’t feel like a fun mum. It all feels like hard work when things are tough. This took me back to a post I wrote in early 2012 called Bumps, and I was reminded to pause and regroup.
But it costs something. It always costs something.
I realised the other day, that I hadn’t read the children a bedtime story in a long time. That sweet something I value so much! The thought made me very sad. I wondered when I stopped…and I couldn’t remember, which is even worse. Instead bedtime was all, rush-rush-teeth-teeth-bed-bed so I could just drop. Stop. I do love (love!) the post bed-time quiet (I long for it!) but for story time to cease? When things are hard, cracks form and something has to give, but it’s important to make sure it’s the right something. With this realisation came the truth to give time rather than spend it.
I guess there comes a point where you can see there’s a choice amongst the blur. There is always choice. And I choose time. To give time. Because time heals.
Time given in the right areas. Family time, the kids, my husband — yes! — but I gave time to something else too. I spent a week, right before Christmas, going through my entire house to get rid of stuff. Stuff, stuff, stuff; things we don’t need. Stuff weighing us down. I think my trip to India was a catalyst to this task I’ve meant to do for a long time. Believe it: I got rid of over 8 cubit metres of stuff from our house! I went through every drawer; every cupboard. Oh, it felt good! I was exhausted, but it felt good. It was time well…given. Because sometimes you need to get into the bowels of the issue and work your way out. Because sometimes you need to get rid of stuff that weighs you down, so to see and enjoy important things.
And then, in the recent weeks, my husband and I made extra effort to give time…even if we didn’t feel like it. Particularly time with our children and creating…making time as a family. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of being 6 individual people who live in a house, instead of a family sharing life together.
Sunsets and bush walks; frolicking in a stream. I sat with my daughter and played ‘campfire friends’ with sticks and flowers. My husband washed the car with my son and I smiled when he came inside with specks of dirt all over his face. Time: time to notice small joys like my daughter’s kiss curl; a dimpled smile; the colours in my children’s eyes.
Time given does heal like soft rain on dry ground. I knew it the moment I found my husband dancing to music with my daughter in the living room.
There’s always a lesson for me to learn; always a brick to build on. This time it’s the subtle shift in focus: from from waiting until it passes — time spent; to choosing to invest — time given.