Jewish World Review Sept. 28, 2001 / 11 Tishrei, 5762

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Time indivisible -- RAISING and nurturing children requires one of the hottest, in-demand commodities we are least likely to yield these days --- time. We can speak of stretching time, maximizing time, managing time and stealing time, but in truth, time strikes an unyielding and uncompromising pose.

There are no ways to reconfigure time. There are no divisions to time.

There is no such thing as quality time or quantity time. There is only time. Through that steady, constant, even flow of time, we love, nurture and grow families.

Despite helpful books, tapes, seminars and classes, we all know deep in our hearts that the key ingredient to raising children is time. Plain old ordinary time that comes in fixed amounts. Time that can be measured in minutes and seconds. Time, that at the end of the day, is forever spent and never to be seen again.

We prove to ourselves that time is the thing our children need most whenever there is a tragedy.

Oklahoma City. News of the bombing spread. Federal office workers around the country pushed back from their desks, grabbed purses and brief cases and ran to day care centers, hoping for time. Time to stroke cherubic faces with soft satin cheeks, scoop up their chubby little forms, tuck them into bed, read stories and whisper, "I love you."

Columbine. Parents frantically rush to the school, sobbing and praying, searching for their children, hoping for time. Time to grab them, embrace them, whisk them away to the safety of home, and tell them that they love them.

September 11, 2001. Those on doomed airliners who knew that time would soon intersect with eternity, punched numbers on cell phones, hoping for time. All they wanted was a little. A few seconds to say, "Hi. It's me. I love you." Others in the midst of fireballs and flying debris ran for their lives, hoping they had enough time to buy themselves more time. Time to be with family, toddlers, teens, grown children, married children and grandchildren. Even those of us far from harm's way ached for more time.

In recent years, I've grown greedy with time. Not time for myself. Not "me time" or "mommy time" the women's magazines say we should demand. The time I yearn for is family time.

Maybe it's the ages of our children, or the times in which we live, but there's an undercurrent of urgency in the air. A knowledge that the sand is falling to the bottom of the hour glass. Time with children under our roof comes in limited quantities. Which is why, when I turn the calendar to a new month and see blank boxes perched in rows of seven, I no longer regard them as opportunities, open spots or days to fill with scribbled appointments, meetings and events. With the vigilance and determination of a secret service agent protecting the President, I guard those squares with a watchful eye. I keep some completely untouched. I see to it that a fixed number of days, evenings and weekend afternoons remain empty, free and clear. Family time.

I'm not sharing as much as I used to. Not with the school, the soccer field, the movie theater, a thousand worthwhile extra-curricular activities, or the mall. Time is a gift and we're going to spend it wisely.

We're going to hold some back, use it to eat together, work together, talk together, pray together, have a few heated arguments, laugh together - and live life to the hilt.

JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here.

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07/13/01: Baby Bear Finds Driving "Just Right"
07/06/01: Pale at the Thought of Bronze
06/29/01: A Dog's Best Friend
06/22/01: Rethinking fatherhood
06/14/01 Don't forget to lock the door
06/07/01 How grandma punishes her kids
06/01/01 Hearing voices
05/25/01 Cyborgs for Better or Worse
05/18/01 The death of Common Sense

© 2001, Lori Borgman