How to Measure

too small, too big

This post is from Stephanie from Daily Doublesteins. Thank you, Stephanie!

I’m standing at the kitchen counter, the window open, eyeing my haphazard Tupperware collection and trying to figure out which one will hold the leftover rice from dinner. Jason walks by, sees what I’m doing, and smiles, knowing it will take me seven more minutes and at least two containers before I pack the rice away. I’m terrible at this, at estimating volume, at knowing how much of something will fit into something else. I was bad at it as a newlywed, teaching myself to cook from Bon Appetit magazines in our tiny galley kitchen. I’d start sautéing garlic in the smallest frying pan and end up transferring the whole meal to a bigger skillet when it turned out the chicken wouldn’t fit. I once covered our entire countertop and part of the floor with homemade Irish cream after underestimating how much the mixture would increase in volume after I’d blended it. (I cried.) And I’m even worse at it now, with two little girls running laps around the kitchen, singing Raffi’s “Down By the Bay” on a continuous loop, keeping my brain from completing a single thought.

Having kids changes a lot of things—sleep habits, friendships, the number of breakable items you can put on your coffee table. For me, the biggest change has been in how I measure: life, time, success…everything, really. I used to be an avid runner, someone who cared about her 5K time and trained methodically for a marathon. These days I’m still a runner, but success now is sneaking in a 6:30 a.m. run with a neighbor before the kids wake up, or figuring out how long, exactly, I can push both girls in the jogging stroller before their snacks run out and they start to fight.

Time, too, is harder to measure. Some days fly by in a blur of filling sippy cups, applying sunscreen, driving from one location to the next. Others days, usually the rainy ones, drag by sloooowly, a tedium of tantrums and time-outs. Even a finite unit of time, like an hour, can be slippery, elastic. One hour of church with two toddlers climbing me and fighting over the Cheerios? Eternity. One hour to read quietly while the girls nap? The blink of an eye.

I look over the whole of our days, of my time with my children these last four years—the deliciously perfect moments and the hair-pulling frustrations—and it really does come down to the same question: How much of something will fit into something else? How much of their life will fit into mine, into ours, into the home we have on our quiet street in our idyllic little town?

just right

I’m no good at that kind of measuring. Instead, I look out the open window, put the rice away, then call the girls over. We get out a silver bowl, sit down on the floor, scoop brown sugar and flour on top of the butter, count out chocolate chips to make cookies. This measuring, I can do. I let them lick the spoon.

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