Our own adventures in childcare and chronos time
> How do you make yourself available to interruptions?
When I call a friend or SKYPE with my dad, I try to make it so there's at least an hour free before I -have- to do anything. (My dad and I hit a new record a few weeks back, Skype'ing for 2 hours straight!) When I called a friend this past week, I got another good idea from what SHE was doing - taking a walk outdoors while talking to me!
Though if someone's thinking, "If I had to that kind of 'space' in my schedule, I would never call friends!" - well, that has been a problem! And also many worries about lost opportunities... "What if I try to call A, but she doesn't answer? She might return my call - and I'll want to keep the line open, so I can't call B." (didn't have any kind of "call waiting" feature)
> Do you have someone whose chronos time you can interrupt?
When I was a college freshman, one morning I was flipping out, sad and worried because I had a crush on a guy (and that wasn't going to work out), which made me I incredibly distracted and had utterly failed to finish the HW set that was due that day.
I went to a friend's room, and sat on her couch and cried. She listened to me, encouraged me most strongly, prayed with me & for me. And then there was the offer: "If you are ever feeling overwhelmed or worried, you can always come find me, even if it's 2am and you have to wake me up-- (pauses, realizing that will affect her roommate Michelle) Yes, even if it's 2am, I know it will be okay with Michelle. You can come talk to me."
During those four years, I didn't take her up on the exact offer, (but once I pulled her out of the Bible Study we both attend to talk about urgent guy problems!) our friendship was still marked by it. Fast forward to about 3 years after college. She and I are both married, and by then I think she had 1 baby. I am incredibly lonely living in Vancouver BC, and she is on the East Coast. One evening, about 11pm or midnight, I am flipping out, so I call her (thinking it's 3 hrs time difference, so about 8 or 9pm for her). We talk for an hour or two. At the end of the call (and no sooner) she gently lets me know what time it is there. I am shocked (in my day job, I regularly use a map of time zones to decide when to make calls) and she says she figured out that I didn't know how late it was and it is okay. <3 She speaks in a way that lets me know it TRULY is okay - and would have been okay even if I'd known how late it was. (Later, though, I thought to myself, "It's me finally taking up the offer she made freshman year! Semi-accidentally!")
More recently, when the lockdowns began, my sister & two other friends said things that had the message, "If you need help, I will help you." (when there were worries about shortages of material goods) I treasured in my heart the thought that, "IF there's an emergency, they are the people I will call for help."
It's weird how these promises we speak - or write in an email or text - can shape things.
Any sort of close family relationship, in my view, invokes kairos, especially between spouses, parent and child, or adult child and elderly parent.
The commune experiment is a bit too out there, in my view. The notion of kairos in that context would seem intrusive. But I can see how it might work.
I love this topic of discussion! Had never heard of Kairos until now but I love the concept. My partner and I are going to be parents soon and being able to enter Kairos is something that really scares us both. We are decidedly not good at it and feel like our nuclear very neoliberal family style does not set up for success in this regard. We haven't fully decided what our childcare arrangements will be but our leaning towards me staying home. Our communities in general seem to be designed in ways that obstruct being able to enter Kairos. We are not religious but often envious of the communities religious folks are able to find that foster an ability to enter Kairos with each other. I would love to hear from others in this group, perhaps those who are outside of religious communities about where they find spaces to cultivate the skill of entering Kairos.
I feel like as a single woman, I can tend to either extreme: going through the motions and not being attentive enough to others' needs, or trying to be of service in so many different ways that my time and person feel scattered and I end up overscheduled and serving "chronos" anyway. A friend of mine who is a mother once helped me to put at least some framework around being a good steward of my time based on the principles in "A Mother's Rule for Life." After prayer and certain aspects of tending to my person provide a base (which includes a reasonable allowance for the "chronos" of work obligations to ensure I have a means to live), I really am free to respond intentionally to the needs of my family and friends as they arise, and as a general rule that's probably what I ought to do.
That being said, even in minor ways it's a lot harder for me to ask others to interrupt their time for me instead. This is where I'm frankly at a disadvantage where the concept of the nuclear family is concerned (and this relates to your post from March too); while it makes perfect sense to me that I should use my time to support my friends and their families, it's not clear where I "fit in" and whom I should interrupt when I'm the one who needs the support since I know that everyone else is so taxed already. This is where the idea of a more expanded and intentional concept of community can be appealing!
I had to put my first child into childcare at 6 weeks, so it was back to Chronos 6 weeks after a c-section and the birth of my first child. I would have preferred to focus my time on her and it was a harbinger of things to come, where my ex-husband would put other things ahead of this precious time. For my second and third I was "luckier" because I found myself unemployed at 8 months pregnant for my second child. I don't care what the federal government says, no one will hire you at 8 months pregnant. And by the way, unemployment benefits are cut off the six weeks after delivery because "you are unable to work". I eventually found some part-time typing that I could do from home but toddlers get distracting so I used "mother's day out" programs as erstwhile childcare. But I valued and treasured the time that I had available to my children. And our time during that period was more Kairos than Chronos. When I had to operate under Chronos, my anxiety was higher and my temper shorter. The children were pressured to move faster, get things right the first time. If I could take it back I would do so in a heartbeat.
I don't work outside the home, so I get to be in kairos with my young children and baby a lot, and perhaps because of that I love interruptions from the outside world. I am always so happy when a friend drops by unannounced. I know that some people hate this, so I get that it's important to read the room, but I think one of the best ways to invite interruptions from someone is to interrupt them first. In a nice way, of course...maybe with a book to lend or a jar of jam. Sometimes I wish there was a structure for this like there used to be- I'd love to have "calling hours" when I knew that friends were at home and wanted their day interrupted by some friendship! Lacking such scheduled interruptions, however, I feel like letting people know you're available if they need or want you by going to them first can be very encouraging.
Oh, wow - just finally read the "What it Was Like Growing up on a Commune" article - that was awesome. The author's dad, her parents - set off on a great adventure! It also meshes a lot with the description of investing in a community organization that Martha gave recently... w/ regard to what it's maybe suggesting we could aim for. (also, Nora's comment on that last one: "What larger scale good might you be called to with all that moral effort? What might that mean for your family?")
"You might argue that it was a boomer’s privilege to be a relaxed, self-actualized parent, and there’s truth to that: Life was cheaper in the ’80s and early ’90s. My parents made less money than I do, and yet they had more time—it’s heartbreaking math. But when we lean too heavily on “OK, Boomer,” we sell ourselves short. Don’t we deserve to live our lives and be parents too? Can’t we imagine this being fun?"
I love, love the moment where she asks, "Can't we imagine this being fun?"
And, "Why must we try to 'entertain' each other when our relationships would become much deeper and more interesting if we did things together other than nibble hors d’oeuvres and drink wine?"
OKAY! Someone came to my church and spoke to us about hospitality a few years back... and from hearing what she said, I inferred that she & her husband have people over for a meal like 5-7 days of the week! She talked about how her life is an open book and her calendar/schedule is there for everyone to see. I got excited when she talked about a time that a friend saw she was planning to take something over to another neighbor who was sick. That friend was like, "Oh, let me do that!" ...and it struck me, we're all "low on" different things... some are low on time/energy, some are low on purposeful things to do! (And also there's things like the difference between being-sat-on-by-Beatrice-interactions and talking-with-another-adult-interactions like you mentioned Leah!) Some would like to help others, but aren't "tuned in" on what the needs are, some are aware of an ABUNDANCE of needs. ...but maybe all those can be fulfilled. (and maybe some of these things would work out naturally in a culture where we're all in each-other's lives and each-other's faces and houses a bunch more!)
When my kids were younger a decade or so ago, commentators would often say, "Love for kids is a four-letter word. It's spelled T-I-M-E." Unsaid: it's kairos time kids mean.
The interruptions can become the primary thing. Allowing interruptions, being interruptable, can frame good life, the opposite of billable time.
A friend who enters kairos with me recommended Tolkien's short story, "Leaf by Niggle," which makes this point about interruption if not primarily in childcare terms.