Quality Time

My timelines are filled with posts and comments about slowing down. Challenges about how we spend our time. Chastisements for rushing our children. Reminders of the miracles we miss in the everyday.

Yeah, yeah. I got it.

But world keeps moving. My job expects me to show up on time and work while I’m there. The girls have school. In the weekday hours that don’t belong to my nine-to-five, Hubby and I focus on the basics — food, clean clothing and shelter. My girls very well can’t go out into the world dirty and unfed. Oh, and somewhere in those same hours of the day, I need to squeeze in a workout or two so I can combat these hypertensive, heart-unhealthy genes I inherited.

I don’t want my life to be a rote execution of schedules, but I find the thought of carving out time for quality time to be exhausting. It feels like one more thing for a to-do list that is already too long.

Perhaps I’m over thinking it.

This weekend, I spent 15 minutes holding a collapsable laundry basket while my daughters threw tennis balls into it. The TV was off because we had just come in from a marathon errand run. I forgot my bag in the car, so my mobile phone wasn’t a distraction. Actually, I didn’t miss my phone until it was time to set an alarm for the next morning.

It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but I’ve been reliving my girls’ reactions. Lil Ma clapped, stomped her feet and laughed so hard she lost her breath. Mini Me cheered on her sister and gleefully retrieved balls that missed the basket. The thought of their smiles have kept me smiling most of today.

Putting a permanent end to my mad dashes would be wonderful, but it’s not realistic right now. What I can do is better enjoy the little moments that come in between.


My parents have called me Mouse since I was 10 years old. If you were to ask them the reason behind the nickname, they would simply say that I was a quiet kid. Most parents equate silence with trouble. When it came to me, silence just meant I was reading.

The name took on a meaning I doubt my parents intended. Family members interpreted my quiet nature as an extreme case of shyness. Some made an extra effort to “draw me out,” while others isolated me as a way of respecting my space. My reactions didn’t help matters. I would withdraw when forced to participate, and I was apathetic when left out.

I remember a summer weekend spent with my cousins when I was about 12. Rhonda, who was a year older than me, signed up to dance in a community center talent show with a friend. While Rhonda was rehearsing the day before the show, the director asked me if I wanted to dance too. Before I could tell her that I couldn’t learn the dance in a day, Rhonda’s mom said:

“Oh, no. She’s VERY shy. She’d never get up in front of people.”

Was I a little shy? Maybe. But very shy? No, but I was starting to believe it.

I later learned there is a name for my personality, and it’s not Mouse or Shy. It’s Introvert. They are not the same. People who are shy may want social interaction, but it makes them anxious. I have no qualms about being around people, but I also value my alone time. It keeps me centered.

I try to keep the differences between introverts and extroverts top of mind as I raise my girls. I want to recognize their personalities so they aren’t misunderstood the way I was at times. So far, it looks like I have two extroverts, but time will tell.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Did your family treat you a certain way because they mistook you for one or the other?

A Look Back: Saturday Night Fever

When I was a single gal, I looked forward to the weekend. I could sleep late, run a few errands and still have enough weekend left for some fun. I wasn’t a big party girl, but I typically had plans a few times a month. It was a good mix of movie nights with friends, dates, and club outings.

These days, my weekends consist of grocery runs, dance practice, and laundry. I got up early today so I could drive my mom to church for usher board meeting. Then I went to Target, where I miraculously spent only $30 before heading to the hair salon.

I still need to take Mini Me to have her hair braided, I’ve not made it to the grocery store, and I agreed to watch my cousin’s daughter because her sitter is sick.

And it’s all good.

Yeah, I sometimes miss those single-gal weekends. When Mini Me and Lil Ma simultaneously go into full-out-screeching cry mode, I fight the urge to run and hide. On days when I come home from work to sink full of dishes and Hubby asks about dinner, I want to hit him with a crusty spatula.

I try to focus on the good stuff instead. Mini Me’s laugh. Lil Ma calling her sister’s name. The first steps. The first sprint, in Lil Ma’s case. Hubby finishing my sentences. Loads of hugs and kisses.

I’d trade single-gal Diva’s life for this in a heartbeat.

I do know, though, that weekends are much to valuable to spend all of them at the grocery store. I need to do a better job injecting fun between the errands. Maybe we’ll start today with a movie night. Any suggestions?

A Look Back: The Table


I bought this table from a boutique furniture store 13 years ago. I started to move the junk before I snapped a pic, but then I thought better of it. This photo is truth.

The table originally sat in the dining area of my post-graduation apartment, and it was the biggest purchase I made for the new space. Everything else was either donated by my parents or a remnant from my grad school studio.

The salesperson told me the table was made from rubber wood, a material that was both sturdy and eco-friendly. “Your table can take a hit,” he said.

I had no intention of my table getting even the slightest ding. I protected with placemats and cleaned after each use. I once got into an argument with a boyfriend because he didn’t see the need to adhere to my clear and clean routine.

That was a lifetime ago. Now, as the kitchen table, it serves as a dining area, craft corner, and way station. We clear it daily for meals, but the clutter reappears almost instantly after we’re done. There are marker and paint stains I can’t remove, and occasionally, I find dried glue and tape stuck to its surface.

None of that matters anymore. When I see those stains, I think of Mini Me, who sits at her place and fills notebooks with artistic creations. There are dings from the pots and platters I use when we host holiday dinners. The memories our family has made make the table more special that it ever was 13 years ago.

The salesperson was right though. It can take a hit.


I’d forgotten how many forms kids bring home during the first day of school. Mini Me’s stack looks bigger than last year. The papers all ask for the same thing; they’re just different colors. Parents names. Contact information. Emergency contact information. Food allergies. Backup emergency contacts. I still don’t understand why the office can’t take one form I complete and copy it as needed. Or better yet, couldn’t this stuff be online?

Sorry, I digress.

One of the papers was for a violin program. Students who participate will take two weekly violin lessons during school hours, and there will be two evening concerts.

I have a soft spot for the violin. When I was in the fifth grade, I asked my parents if I could play. I convinced them to meet with the music teacher for details. The instrument expense, combined with their open disdain for extracurricular activities, kept my hopes at bay.

Not wanting to live vicariously through my kid, I asked Mini Me for her take.

“I’d like to try it,” she grinned.

I mentioned the program to Momma and said that I planned on letting Mini Me join.

“Sounds good,” she said.

Say what?

I reminded her I wanted to play violin. I told her how she and Daddy tag teamed me with a slew of reasons why violin lessons were a bad idea.

“Didn’t you want to play the xylophone?” she asked.

“No, the violin,” I said.  “Would you have let me play the xylophone?”

“Hmm. I don’t remember this at all, ” Momma said.

I am well aware of the fact that she didn’t answer the question.

The smallest moments from childhood affect how you parent. I wasn’t distraught about not playing violin, but I think of it whenever Mini Me wants to try something new. I remind myself that this is her time for exploration. Hubby and I want to expose her to a variety of experiences.

I’m not sure if Mini Me will take to the violin, but I do know this will make for a very noisy school year. Anybody know where I can get earplugs wholesale?