July 11th, 2012

Where Does the Time Go?

Since my parents moved out to Tucson in October, 2010, the rhythm of my days has changed rather drastically. At first, overloaded as I was that fall, I only stopped by a few times throughout the week. Most of my helping out consisted of running errands. But after my mother had to be hospitalized with a chronic urinary tract infection which had severely weakened her, I found myself having to go over to my parents' apartment more in order to keep my dad company.

Once my mother had returned, it became clear that my father's own increasing frailty from a physical standpoint would require that I help him get my mother to bed several nights each week. That shift put a lot of stress on my domestic situation, since it meant that my daughter either had to spend a good deal of time home alone -- her mother was often away evenings -- or accompany me to my parents' place. At first she often chose the latter option, but gradually became more comfortable on her own. As a twelve-year-old, she had reached an age when she was ready for the greater sense of autonomy.

From her perspective, what started out a source of stress has ended up being one of relief. No matter how much she loves her parents, she needed alone time. Most teenagers-to-be get that by spending lots of time in their rooms or out of the house with friends. Not Skylar, though. Her favorite alone time turned out to be the sort that comes when she can be in the biggest room of the house without the possibility of parental intrusion. Frequently she would use her hour or so of truly free time to bounce on her trampoline to her favorite songs, an elementary-school activity that she thankfully rediscovered in middle school, since she was at that delicate stage of development when the path to fitness diverges rather dramatically from the path of sedentary pursuits.

Now, as I wrote here a few days ago, she has significantly upped the exercise ante, literally spending hours each day engaged in physical activity. Bouncing on her trampoline has gone from being her only significant form of aerobics to a comfort pastime she indulges when she is feeling agitated or wants to take a break from what she deems "real" exercise. There are many reasons to applaud this metamorphosis, first and foremost the fact that the habits she is hardening now will stay with her throughout her adult life, at least to a degree. But it has also complicated her parents' life a good deal, since the activities she prefers now -- running on the treadmill at the gym, lifting weights, swimming and bicycling -- are all ones that require one of us to either drive or accompany her. (I'm sure she would love the opportunity to bike or jog by herself, but there are too many potential dangers for us to permit that yet.)

What this means in practical terms on my end is that much of the time that I'm not spending at my parents' place -- roughly five hours a day, seven days a week -- is now devoted to Skylar's fitness regimen. I love the quality one-on-one time this carves out for us, as does her mother, who takes her to the gym all the time now. But the loss of so many hours is also taxing. I have several important writing projects underway, as well as the seemingly endless task of reorganizing the house, garage and storage space, yet find myself with very few uninterrupted stretches in which to build up the momentum I need to make serious progress. Indeed, just writing this entry, which I have been doing at my parents' apartment while my mom is eating or in the bathroom, has taken me two weeks of five-minutes-here, five-minutes-there sit downs with the laptop.

I mention all this not to complain -- I have so much to be grateful for, despite the trials and tribulations of the past half decade -- but to provide an explanation for my absence from Live Journal since early 2011, one which I am making a concerted effort to address right now. Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook will know that I have continued to post regularly there during the past year and a half. My reasons for doing so, though, have less to do with a preference for that particular social network than the simple fact that it's the only one that I can use without too much trouble on my phone, a benighted Blackberry -- Blackberries, to be specific, since I'm currently on my third replacement device -- that makes Web-based applications into sheer torture. If there were an app that worked well for LJ on my phone -- or for Google+, for that matter -- I would have been spreading myself around a lot more than I have.