A Moment in Time
Thoughts for a Day

by Beth DeCuir Ardoin

The alarm clock rings 6:30 a.m. I squint and glance over and mentally calculate how many times I can push the "rest" button before I really have to get up. After several pauses on the old clock, I am forced to rise by the purr box that has jumped on my bed requesting either petting or breakfast. So, OK, I must get up, and do. After ignoring the gentle mewing of the feline sharing my room (It's my daughter's cat, but her friends are all allergic to it, so it has to stay in my room), I go through the morning ritual of picking out clothes for us to wear and cleaning up behind myself.

Now, it is time to wake up my daughter. I should probably have chosen some description adjective for her, but as yet, I still am unsure which child will rise. She will either be a bear - fussing that she does not get enough hibernation time, or a little darling offering hugs and walking hand in hand with me down the stairs. Today, I lucked out and got the little sweetie who accepted the outfit I chose for her, made up her own bed and then ruined the whole picture by throwing her nightshirt on the floor near, but not in, the clothes hamper.

Decision Time: Will it be the traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, sliced fruit, milk and juice OR PopTarts!. Mom wins! It's the tarts and sliced fruit. The next part is the ritual of most every American household, the "repeat how late we are" ritual. About 10 times each morning I remind her how much time we have left before the school bell rings, and we barely make it into the classroom before Tardy Slips are required!

So off we go for the day. It's Friday. That's my day off! So instead of being Editor-in-Chief of the Campus Wide Information System for a university, or being the administrator of the accounting and secretary group in our office, or writing Internet courses and teaching them, today I rest. What is rest? I have NO clue. Instead the time is donated to my girl's school, where I spend most of each Friday. Today I am teaching a group of 2nd graders how to sing the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Did you know that the Preamble does a pretty good bebop? If you didn't you should give it a try. The kids try harmonizing and did so well that they are offered a red/white/blue cake for next Friday. (And at this point I realize, I have just donated NEXT Friday also!!) Between helping out in the school office, assisting in the upcoming school fair, and trying to get some information from one of the other teachers on sign language (I try to pick up a word or two each week), the day passes quickly. Then it is time for shopping, cleaning, lawn work, checkbook balancing - HOLD IT - I've just been beeped. Someone needs me to call the office. No emergency this time. They just need me to run by and figure out the arrangements for the group coming in town next week. It will only take a 30 minute drive to work to handle.

Somewhere in this mad world of work and home and being helpful, I have to get in some exercise, prepare religion classes (2nd graders get to make their first Communion, and the classes are home schooled), write poetry, paint a picture or two, and try to sleep --perchance to dream. Sketches of children, paintings of the ocean, a moment of music that will be my Calgon of the day and just take me away!

This is a typical mom of the '90's in America, trying desperately to prioritize kids and family with an occupation. I love what I do! That probably makes me atypical. I like my job at the university; I like the person my daughter is developing into; I like the extended family we have adopted over the past several years; I even like my ex-husband. What I don't like is trying to juggle all of this and in the midst of it all, trying to give my daughter a carefree childhood.

It takes the one thing that I have so little of...time. I have to take time to calm down when the work day has been hectic. Do you have to be reminded to eat? Do you have to be reminded that late night shows, no matter how much you need them for winding down, do not replace sleep? Do you have to be reminded to take those two 15 minute work breaks during the nine hour work day (we get paid for eight, but usually work nine)? These are signs that your life is way too stressed. Signs that you are trying to do too much.

As a communications major in college, I often heard that I could be ANYTHING I wanted to be. It is not necessary to succumb to stage fright. "You can do it!!", they would say. Just think it and want it badly enough, and eventually, it will happen. Well what I want is to have 32 hours in a day. I want it really badly. I think about it, and I wish, and I even "have faith" that it will happen, and as yet, to no avail.

In the meantime, what do we do? We organize, prioritize and we pray that we remember each day to be thankful for those who are our family. We cry with them. We laugh with them. We get angry and make up with them. We pray that they can stand to be with us just ONE MORE DAY. And we go to sleep at night, hoping that, by tomorrow, there will be eight more hours to the day.