I am sitting, lounging, really, on my couch, my computer on my lap. My knee is aching with all the fury of a worn out joint begging for a replacement 30 years too soon. Thanks to the painkiller I took, I am tired. And grumpy. My not-quite-fifteen-year-old cat perches on the couch next to me and meows hoarsely.
“Just a minute, Kiwi,” I say dismissively.
I continue my mindless jaunt through the interwebs as he purrs beside me. Then he climbs on my chest, begging for some love. Impatiently, I push him off, setting him on the blanket beside me. He stays there for a moment, then repeats the exercise. I find myself growing irritated.
“Kiwi, come on. Can’t you see I’m busy?” (and yes, I do talk to my cat like that. I am one step away from being a crazy cat lady).
I push him off to the side. Again.
Again, he comes to sit on my chest. I start to move him, sighing, but then I stop.
What is it I’m doing that’s so important I can’t take the time to pet my cat? He loves me, in his catty way. He waits all day for me to come home, and gets just a few paltry minutes of my attention every evening. Mostly he just sits by my side and purrs, waiting for me to notice him.
He doesn’t ask for much.
So instead I shove my computer to my side and snuggle my face into his fur. He’s old. I don’t know how many years he has left. How many snuggles we have remaining. In that moment I decide to try to remember to make the most of them.
I need to make the time.
Eight hours earlier…
Tori is working busily at her craft table, doing something with popsicle sticks and crayons. I am rushing around (as I always do in the morning), searching for socks, stowing lunches, and filling water bowls.
“Mommy, look!” she calls.
“Just a minute, honey. I just have to do this one thing first.”
About 400 things later, I stop what I’m doing to see what she’s made.
“I made puppets, mommy. One for each of my teachers!”
“That’s great, honey,” I say without really looking. “Can you put them in your backpack for me?”
“But mommy, wait, I want to show you…”
I sigh. Loudly. “Okay, fine. But hurry.”
She cringes a bit and a part of me dies a little. As she quickly runs down the list of puppets, I am already chastising myself for snapping.
“That’s great, honey. I’m sure they’ll love them,” I say, bending down to give her a hug and a kiss.
Why am I always telling her to hurry? Why do a few minutes one way or the other always seem to matter so much? No one at the office cares about my opinion, needs my presence, as much as she does.
I need to take the time.
Three days earlier…
I am on the couch again, computer once again on my lap. I have a word doc open, and am staring angrily at the cursor blinking back at me.
My husband, finally done with his kitchen clean up, comes to sit down next to me and sighs. Although he has his Kindle on his lap. I can tell he wants to talk.
“Writing,” I say, shortly.
“My book,” I snap. “I still need 14,000 more words.”
He’s quiet for a minute and I continue to stare angrily at the screen.
Eventually he says, “we could watch Star Trek…”
“I can’t,” I snap again. “I have to write this.”
His mouth turns down, and with a wounded expression on his face, he picks up his tablet again.
Almost as soon as the words are out, I regret them. I wasn’t writing. I was staring. Nothing was getting done. My deadline wasn’t getting any closer to being met because I blew off my husband on a Saturday night. The husband who will be there for me long after this novel is finished, and who matters far more than any dreamed-of book deal.
I should have taken the time.
A saw a quote the other day, “Nothing is ever so important that it can’t wait.” And it’s true.
I need to stop rushing around so much. Need to leave the phone behind a little more. You guys out here on social media don’t really need me. But my daughter does. My husband does. My mother and father and friends and loved ones do too.
I’m going to start taking the time, while I still have it. While I still have them.
That way, when I’m old and bent and frail, I won’t find myself bemoaning what I didn’t get done, but celebrating who I loved and who loved me in return.
That’s a far better measure of a life well lived.
Photo credit Dalo_pix2