Monday, May 28, 2007

Time

My watch battery died about two years ago. I haven't replaced it yet, and so go without a watch. I read somewhere that watches are becoming more and more status symbols as their actual utility declines: who needs a watch when your cellphone, laptop, iPod, Blackberry, etc. all flashes the time at you as a matter of course?

In the course of a day, there is, in fact, very little that depends on a strict adherence to schedule--other than getting into and out of class, and attending the occasional meeting, my workdays are stretches of flowing time, broken up by interests rather than appointments and obligations. I actually found that I didn't much care what time it was, most of the time. When I teach, I can check the time on the classroom clock; to make sure I get there on time, I glance up at the corner of my laptop screen. Even my office phone just silently tells time while it waits to ring, or to be dialled. Every hallway in my building has a clock, and the circulation desk at the library has two.

The longer I went without a watch, the less I found myself wondering what the time was.

Until I got pregnant, of course. Then it wasn't a constant checking of the progress of the minute hand, or even the hour hand. I constantly tapped out a calendrical rosary on my fingertips: months and weeks of gestastion accomplished, portion of pregnancy elapsed, trimester milestones attained or approaching.

Minute-time arrived with Miss Baby, a warping of my time-sense: she's been crying for an hour, or maybe one minute. She's been asleep for only twenty minutes! Or was that an hour? When did she eat, or better yet, when did I? "She's two and a half weeks old," I somewhat blearily, if proudly, told a friend of my mother's. "Mimi!" my mom admonished, "She's 17 days old! Two and a half weeks. Sheesh!" (My mom is the kind of person who says sheesh when provoked in ways like this.) I counted days and weeks, I counted hours and minutes: naps, feeding, growth, maternity leave, days until the weekend, minutes at the breast. I became obsessed with knowing exactly what time it was. If I couldn't see the clock on Pynchon's side of the bed when I got up at night, I got angry. We put a clock in Miss Baby's room, so I could watch the time pass as I rocked and rocked. Somehow, if I knew she fed from 3:07 until 3:18, that made getting up so much more bearable: if I could name it, I could control it?

Still, now that she's getting older--almost 1!--we're settling into an easier routine, one with softer targets and gentler rhythms: we get up 6:30-7:30-ish; we get to daycare 9-10-ish, and come home 5-ish. Whatever. I find, though, that I'm able more to enjoy our time in the evening, when work and daycare are done--there's nothing left but dinner, and bath, and bed, and that all flows without too much effort. I'm a little more stressed in the morning, even though we're really not on a strict schedule. I'm still driven by a forward momentum that can't help looking at the clock.

Pynchon goes back to work in three weeks--a real office gig, you know, the kind where you have to show up at a particular time and stay put for a certain number of hours. I wonder what our time will feel like then?
---------------
And speaking of time, I'm sorry if I haven't been around to your place lately--I'm getting caught up tonight. Work's been very intense, and I've been spending whole days on the internet, and coming home to paint windows in the garage before conking out in bed. Whoops.

18 comments:

Oh, The Joys said...

I used to be so ON TIME and now, with two kids... I've just had to let go... at least a little bit.

Jenifer said...

I am still focusing on the first line, you have no watch? You are right of course every cellphone, ipod, Blackberry, etc. all have the time. Then there is the laptop, clocks in public places, the car...I can kind of see how you manage.

I suppose I am a bit of a slave to my watch sometimes. I have tried to leave it behind on weekends now and then, but for the most part it is firmly attached to my wrist.

I know what you mean about babies. You write down every minute they nurse or ounce they drink. Inputs in and out are documented and nothing is too small to record.

Your schedule sounds nice and so relaxed. I am out the door by 8am everyday and for my best friend she is out the door everyday with a 2 and 4 year old by 7:30am. I hope when your routine changes your mornings don't get too crazy.

Windows in the garage, you mean the trim? Our garage has no windows so I am not sure what you mean. Anyway, good luck with it all. Hope you are all enjoying the nicer weather.

Omaha Mama said...

Yes, time. One of the rules in the classroom that I've inherited is that each student wear a watch. Hard to enforce when the teacher never wears one! I've got a watch, but find I feel it looks "clunky" and just cramps my style. I'm surrounded by clocks too, and don't really have the dough for a proper status symbol!

You'll have to let us know how that goes, when hubby goes back to the grind.

slouching mom said...

I don't wear a watch either. You're right that the time is displayed absolutely everywhere. Too many places, even. It's disconcerting. I don't need to know the time THAT BADLY.

Mad Hatter said...

I remember vividly the eternity that was 5 minutes with a crying newborn and sometimes that 5 minutes was on a 2 hour repeat cycle. Aiye!

Em said...

I love this post. I don't have a watch either - haven't for years (the battery died and that was it... now I use my phone).

I'm happy to let the hours flow by... but when 7pm hits the kids must be in bed (and no rising before 7am!)

Beck said...

I don't wear a watch. But I'm home most of the time and its hard to escape what time it is there, anyhow.

crazymumma said...

I am obsessed with time. My watch is an indiglo....I need it because I have hideous insomnia and it provides a strange comfort....

Mimi said...

crazymumma -- with my insomnia, it's better if i CAN'T see the clock. once i look, i might as well get up ...

jenifer -- the windows are from my bedroom, but they're the old fashioned sash kind in a million pieces, that you have to take apart to paint so they don't get stuck together. So I have a garage full of bits of window. Ack.

Her Bad Mother said...

I used to go through stretches of no watch (usually when the battery died). But then came pregnancy, and care-of-infancy, and the watch is glued to me. One of WB's first words, actually - WATCH! Scary? Maybe.

NotSoSage said...

I'm another no-watch person. I guess, then, watches are going BACK to being a symbol of status, as I'm sure they were back when most people relied on the ringing of the clock towers and their own sense of time.

Time makes me anxious, though, because I am usually an insanely punctual person. I feel much more sane without a watch because I am forced to feel that it's not all THAT important. And, like you've pointed out, it's easy enough not to find out the time if I have to.

nomotherearth said...

I'm a watch-fanatic. I actually get heart-palpitations if I've forgotten it at home. But then, I don't have a cellphone, etc. And I have to be at work on time, and should only take a certain amount of time for lunch, and must pick up the Boy on time...

Bon said...

i used to be a watch freak...looked at my wrist all the time. somewhere about six months ago my ancient wind-up watch lost its little winding thing, and nobody in this hick town can fix it for me. so my wrist has been naked since.

but what i discovered is that the baby could tell time for me. by then, we were past the craziness of feeding every two hours and night wakings were growing less - though you're right, it DID somehow help to know i'd fed from 3:07 to 3:18, or 3:48 in my case...O's a gourmand - and i realized i generally had an almost accurate sense of what time it was by the cues O gave me. except when i actually had to be somewhere on time...i guess, in hindsight, i wasn't doing so well at that. and i hate being late! :)

now he's past a year, and soon enough, i suppose, i'll have to stop counting his age in months and start years. but i am sad to do this. time makes me sad these days. parenthood has brought out the wistful in me.

Mimi said...

bon -- that business of years instead of months, that's just starting to hit me. from counting days, to weeks, then months ... now i find the months, too, slipping away.

kittenpie said...

Not only do I eschew a watch this past year or so, but I carry no iPod, cellphone, Blackberry, or other little devices. I go through phases of wearing and not wearing watches, but the phases tend to be measured in years. When I don't wear one, I find watches in coffee shops, libraries, TTC transfer machines, signboards, and so on. It's kind of nice, in a way. But then again, I only stopped wearing this time because my watch was giving me a weird irritated spot on the underside of my wrist!

Bloor West Mama said...

What at great post Mimi. I was so there when Isa was born, like you I needed to know what time it was, how long it had been and how long until...

Now the only time I care about is when I have to be at the daycare. I find it amazing that the obsession is gone, I did not think it would be.

ewe are here said...

I don't wear a watch, but I do constantly check my cell phone, my laptop, the kitchen clock... because all things baby are being logged in so we know where we are in his feedings.... I suspect we've already starting getting lax with it, though. Maybe because we've done this before? I'm not sure....

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