Ann Dorer Essay Series: As Time Goes By

The wedding rehearsal dinner was about to begin, and the bride’s aunt had still not arrived. All the guests were seated when she and her husband at last rushed in. They had been stuck in traffic trying to get to their hotel to change into their dinner clothes. “We threw on our clothes,” she told me, “and I grabbed my makeup bag so I could put on my makeup in the car on the way.” With a smile on her freshly made-up face, she added, “I ‘made good use of time and material.’”

I smiled back because suddenly I remembered that phrase—I had seen it often. It had appeared on every one of my grammar-school report cards on the list of actions that added up to good conduct at school.

In today’s world I find that “making good use of time and material” is expressed in a different way. It’s called multitasking. But no matter how one labels the skill, it was the onset of motherhood that got me to maximize the use of it. I vividly recall one especially stressful day as a young mother with a fussy baby who desperately needed to take a nap but was fighting it with all he had. I stood over the sink, eating my late-lunch sandwich while I washed up the day’s dishes so I could soon start preparations for supper. As I did so, I stood on one leg. With the other one, I was pushing my baby back-and-forth, back-and-forth in the stroller, desperately trying to settle him down enough to sleep.

With the rise of technology, young mothers today seem to have even better opportunities to multitask. My daughter, Kate, sometimes emails her grocery list to her favorite place to shop, giving her time to accomplish other tasks while someone else gathers her groceries. Then Kate simply drives over to collect them. While doing so, she often makes good use of her travel time by calling me. She multitasks this way so much that when a day goes by that I don’t hear from her and I call to check on her, she says, “I’m fine. I just didn’t go anywhere today.”

As time goes by, I continue to multitask even though I’m a grandmother now. At lunch time, I eat my sandwich in front of the television while watching the news. And afterward, because I’m on the sofa with a blanket on the back of it, I usually scoot down, pull the blanket over me, and take a nap. (Today it’s called a power nap.) It’s become one of my favorite ways to make good use of time and material.

Watercolor painting of roses

Text by Ann Dorer
Illustrations by Judy Jamieson

Former editor and consummate Southern lady Ann Dorer shares her reflections on life in our beloved region. For more of her thoughts, see her essay on Becoming a Southern Lady and previous post on her granddaughter Maggie’s pre-k graduation. Browse exclusive place cards that feature Judy Jamieson’s beautiful artwork in our online shop.

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