The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 27, 2006


Around Home - Let's just call it Mothers' Day

I've come to the conclusion that Mothers' Day should be moved to late October.

Actually, as far as I'm concerned, the last Sunday in October already is Mothers' Day, even if not sanctioned as such, because it's the day mothers get the gift they want most, far more than brunch at a restaurant or florist deliveries. It's when we set the clocks back and gain an extra hour.

My husband and I have been debating the merit of that last Sunday in October, when daylight savings ends, ever since early in our mutual parenthood journey when I enthused, "This is the best day of the year! A whole extra hour, no strings attached! A whole hour earned simply by resetting the clock!"

He thought that was ridiculous. A consummate summer person, his favorite meals involve an outdoor grill; his favorite team sport is baseball; his favorite family activity is swimming. He exults in the long hours of daylight that kick in early in the summer months and tends to get grouchy come late fall. "It's just one hour," he said. "How can you possibly think that one extra hour makes up for a whole winter of darkness?"

I'm a mother of young children. Nothing is worth more to me than an extra hour.

And just as some people make the same New Year's resolutions every year, only to abandon them by late January, I resolve every October to try to make ever-better use of that hour. I tell myself I'll ignore it, and save it for when I really need it. I'll refuse to set the clock back until one day when I'm running a half-hour behind schedule — to work, say, or to a dentist appointment — and then I'll cash in. Instead of being a half-hour late, for that one incident I'll find myself a half-hour early.

Instead, I inevitably set my clock back at bedtime on the Saturday night before, just like everyone else does. But I always promise myself that I'll get up at the same unadjusted time I did the morning before, only instead of seven o'clock it will be — magic! — six o'clock!

I never do, of course. I sleep until my newly set clock says seven o'clock, and my magic extra hour is gone for another year.

But the fact that it existed at all — even if only for the nine hours I slept — makes me feel somehow compensated for some of the time that was inevitably lost over the past twelve months. I don't mean time I wasted; I mean time other people wasted at my expense.

Add together all of the supermarket cashiers who chose to refill their cash drawers just as I reached the front of the line. Then tally up the flights that departed late. The newly licensed driver at the stop light who hadn't yet mastered the art of shifting into drive while braked on a slope and stalled out 12 times before moving along. And let's not forget Donald Trump, whom I believe I can blame for wasting 16 hours of my time this past TV season by getting me addicted to his search for a new apprentice.

But in all fairness, I've wasted my share of other people's hours too. First of all, my son's teacher. I'm a note-writer. I write her at least three or four notes a week, covering everything from why his socks didn't match one morning to why he might have used an inappropriate word in the classroom the day after he attended his first Red Sox game. Add up all the time she spent reading my notes, and I'm sure that was at least an hour out of her year. And that poor help-desk technician. I know it's not his fault that the screen on my PDA got scratched. As he explained to me six or seven times, he deals with the device's internal workings, not its screen. But I still kept him on the phone for nearly an hour complaining about the unfair limitations on my warranty. And, of course, I owe numerous friends for all the time I've buttonholed them for a discussion of The Apprentice. (In which case it's really Donald Trump who owes them, just like he owes me. But as we all know, you can own most of Manhattan and still not be able to buy time.)

So maybe the last Sunday in October should be not only Mothers' Day but also Annual Day of Forgiveness, when we all grant and gain forgiveness for wasting each other's time.

No matter what, I'm looking forward to it. One extra hour, every year. True, you end up returning it in early April, but by then the bright-as-day evenings are their own reward. Extra time in the fall; extra sunlight in the spring. Whether or not you are a mother, there are few greater gifts.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito