Time: When Does It Become Mine?

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We all know that time flies. We’ve heard the “you only get 18 summers” line for years now, and we are all fully aware that our babies become teenagers before we are ready. Time seems to be our most precious gift, and lately, I am feeling torn between choosing how I want to spend my time and having others decide for me. So when does my time become mine?

Let me explain. First of all, I want to say that I am incredibly thankful to have extended families present in our lives. I know not everyone is as fortunate for various reasons, and I know how important family is. But over the past few years, particularly since having children, there has been a growing feeling inside of me that I am not totally sure what to do with. Between my parents and my in-laws, we are constantly shuffling schedules to decide who to spend which breaks with, and to be honest; it’s exhausting. My parents want to pencil in plans for next fall break while my in-laws insist on getting next year’s spring break on the books before we even return from this year’s trip. And as of late, I find myself wanting to be selfish and just say “no” to all of it. In a perfect world, we would plan our own family vacations and include the extended family when we choose to. But in our scenario, others plan our trips for us and then consult to make sure it works with our schedule. Part of me wants to know–when do I get to decide when my family goes on vacation and with whom? I only have so much time to spend with my husband and children, so shouldn’t I be the one to decide what we do as a family? Instead, I am asked for minimal input, but ultimately, my vacations are planned for me way ahead of time, and it’s infuriating at times. Maybe I want to experience things with only my immediate family…is that so wrong?

But even as I type this, I am second-guessing my own thoughts. On the flip side, I know that my parents and in-laws won’t be around forever, and as morbid as it might sound, we need to maximize the time we spend with them. I almost feel guilty for wanting to be selfish with my time, knowing that we may only have another ten to twenty years left with them. It is a constant internal struggle for me, and all too often, I go along with whatever plans are made for me so that I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. However, on the inside, I am incredibly frustrated that both sides of our families are determined to monopolize our vacations for the foreseeable future.  

Am I wrong for wanting to be selfish? I feel like a horrible human being when these thoughts run through my head, but it’s also MY time, so shouldn’t I have the choice on how I spend it? Over the years, I have built a very strong love-hate relationship with time.  Time can be the most amazing gift, but it can also be the world’s most vicious thief. Maybe this is just a case of learning to say “no” more often, or maybe we just learn to live with it, so we don’t ruffle anyone’s feathers. I am grateful that my children have grandparents who love them to pieces and want to be around them. It’s just tough when it is always on someone else’s terms. So, when does my time become mine?

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