I’m not a slave to the clock. It’s a benefit of being self-employed; I can pretty much get to my desk and begin writing at 3 a.m. or 11 a.m. and no one but me knows the difference. I don’t have kids at home anymore, so I don’t have to watch the clock to get them off to school or to ensure I’m there to greet them when they get home.
Scott is semi-retired. He does some work at home, like practicing his guitar for recitals and concerts, and transposing Very Old Music into modern-day notation, that doesn’t require him to look at a clock, either. During the regular school year at Mt. SAC Community College, where he’s a music professor, we have to watch the clock only on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings to get him to work on time. And, quite frankly, I let him do the clock watching on that one. He’s a grown man. He’s gotten himself off to work for 35+ years without my assistance.
Really, the only time I have to watch the clock are days when I have doctor appointments or book events. Even then, I’m likely to set an alarm to go off to tell me it’s time to get ready and leave the house rather than constantly keep an eye on the clock. I don’t even own a watch, and the only clocks in our house are on the microwave, an alarm in the bedroom (for those Fridays Scott needs it), and what are on the computers.
We eat when we are hungry, not because the clock says it’s lunchtime. We go to bed when we get sleepy (and much to the amusement of our collective four children, who don’t hide their laughter when they call us at, say, 8 p.m. and find they’ve woken us up), and get up when we wake up. For us, in other words, time truly has little meaning.
When I was at my son’s home in Chicago last week (see my last post about the sudden death of Steve’s father, my former husband), I was amazed by the beautiful clock that dominated a wall of their home. It was massive, and it was a work of art. But Steve and his lovely wife Lindsay have regular jobs. They’re young. They have to live by the clock to get to the office on time (Steve) or to school on time (Lindsay, who teaches). They need constant reminders of what time it is. My Robin is a university student; she has to keep an eye on the clock because she’ll miss class otherwise. Our Janie has a high-pressure job that requires her to be “on” just about 24/7; she’s keenly aware of what time it is. Christopher, too, is a student, working on a master’s in library science. He has flexibility because his is an online program, but even he has to show up for virtual meetings with internship advisors and class chats that have set times.
Yes, our children have to live by the clock.
But the member of our family who seems most attuned to time is our little Chihuahua, Tufa. But her time is slightly different. She doesn’t live by the clock. She lives by me. For Tufa, there are two times: Mom, and No-Mom.
Mom time is great! She is my constant companion. She’s sitting on my lap as I write this; she sits by me on of the sofa when I’m reading, or watching a documentary on Netflix with Scott in the evening. She chases the cats away from me when I’m trying to crochet (“trying” being the operative word when you have three cats), and pretty much never leaves my side.
No-Mom time, however, must be the Very Worst Thing in the World. I know this because, when I return from wherever it is I’ve gone without Tufa, I’m greeted by the most frantic display you can imagine. She leaps into my arms, wiggling like, well, a puppy, and licks my face so frantically it’s a miracle I have any face left. I’ll set her on the sofa, and she’ll zoom back and forth and back and forth before leaping back into my arms for another face lick. This goes on for a good three or four minutes before she settles down enough that I can proceed to actually get my second foot in the doorway. And then, she won’t let me set her down for another five or ten minutes.
The funny thing about this behavior? It happens when I’ve been gone for hours, shopping or doing laundry in town. You might expect this.
But it also happens if I walk up our driveway to retrieve the mail, or if I step outside to sweep the back deck, without her. In those cases, I’m gone maybe 90 seconds.
I was in Chicago for eight days for my ex’s funeral and to be with my grieving son. You’d think maybe Tufa would have greeted me with an even more over-the-top greeting when I finally returned home. But—no. I got the same face wash, the same wiggly-worm snuggles, the same everything. Wait, I take that back—she also added a few sound effects, the most notable being broo and another sound I couldn’t begin to spell.
Be it 90 seconds or four hours or eight days, Tufa greets me with exactly the same enthusiastic greeting.
No-Mom time, apparently, is, well, timeless. Or perhaps “endless” would be a better word, because Tufa is not a happy puppy when I’m not around. No-Mom time is, as I said before, The Very Worst Thing in the World. Probably even worse than a trip to the vet, because at least at the vet, Mom is there. But as soon as No-Mom time turns back to Mom time, all is well with her world.
Do you have a dog, or cat for that matter, who gets all wonky when you are gone? Is No-Mom vs. Mom (or Dad) time something your animal lives by? How do your pets react when you return after being away? Does it differ when you’re gone a short time vs. a long time? I’m really curious about this animal time thing, and would love to know how other pets experience time.
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