So many days, I feel like I’m just marking time, just trying to survive until the relief crew, in the person of Dad coming home from work or the grandparents coming for a visit, arrives. “Survival mode,” as we call it around here, is fine for short bursts—like when there’s a newborn in the house, or the babies are sick, or someone’s going through a particularly unpleasant stage—but hunkering down in the trenches can only last so long before one starts to feel quite cramped (see also: War of Attrition).
In the words of today’s literary allusion: As Janie said to her husband, “You’se always off talkin’ and fixin’ things, and Ah feels lak Ah’m jus’ markin’ time. Hope it soon gits over.” [The first one to name the novel’s title and/or author wins an adventure-filled week with a lively and entertaining toddler: free S&H! Also note: the relationship in the book is dysfunctional and it’s to the general feeling, not the specific situation, that I’m referring. Just so we’re clear.]
“Jus’ markin’ time”…I’ve never heard the expression used in a positive way, but it’s been pinging around my head a lot lately. I Wikipedia-ed the phrase out of curiosity and here’s what I got:
As a military drill command marking time is where soldiers march on the spot. That is, they continue to move their legs as if they were still marching but without moving forward.
The term can also be used to refer to doing a job or task whilst waiting for an opportunity to arise to do what you really want to do.
Indeed. But then I got to thinking about the musical meaning of the term. Middle school band directors (and their even braver cousins, elementary school recorder teachers) know that in a crowd of inexperienced “musicians” who are trying to find and keep their place and stay in tune and on key, someone’s got to mark time, to keep the beat. Or else the whole venture will degenerate into riotous, painful, shrieking dissonance. More experienced musicians can count for themselves, but they still watch for that all-important downbeat and the occasional cue.
Ah. So maybe the time-marking moments of motherhood aren’t so useless as they sometimes seem. Household harmony and rhythm don’t just happen.
And hey, the military connotation isn’t such a bad one either, for those of us who are training the next generation of Christian soldiers. (And we’ve had not a few parades around the house to that hymn lately; it’s the boys’ current favorite.) Endless drilling precedes battle-readiness, if there’s to be any hope of victory.
So march on, Metronome Moms!