Welcome to what was once the single most dreaded day of my life: the end of Daylight Savings Time. Parents of small children, you know what I’m talking about. When my girls were little, that particular Sunday seemed even more endless than usual Sundays and after a bunch of hours reading to them on the couch (a Sunday morning activity that I would recommend as possibly the best reason for becoming a parent) I would soon run out of things to do. You’d look at the clock. What?? It was only three?? So many many hours until bedtime!
And then there were the calculations that I would make and revise all day long: okay, so if their usual bedtime is at 8:30, I should start getting them ready an hour later tonight. Wait, an hour earlier! Wait, an hour later! Wait, what’s supposed to happen? (This was compounded by my ex-husband’s twice yearly ritual of pretending to be confused by the time change: Is it fall back? Or fall forward? Do you spring back? Which is it??) And then no matter what I decided my girls would be totally wide awake at bedtime and it would take hours and hours to get them to sleep. And then the next night, we’d be all screwed up again.
But now, remarkably, this particular Sunday ends up a day like any other, except that I am back among the population that is actually thrilled by having that extra hour (Whoa, it’s only three! There is so much more left to this day!). And then tomorrow that thrill will be quickly forgotten when I discover that the sun is setting shortly after it has risen. (Then, for the next few days, to my children in the car: Wow, can you believe how dark it is now? Remember when it used to be light out at this hour just a couple days ago??)
If you think about it, it’s a strange thing, the way we move time around like this. Because that extra hour we gain is lost again in March. It seems a very audacious move on our part, really, to shift time in this way. I tried something to this effect when I was 20 years old and had just graduated from college. I figured, well, sure, everyone else had to go to fifth grade, but not me! I was going to London now instead! Then I’d be the same age as everyone else when I got back (interestingly, I flew home from London on New Year’s Eve, something I recounted here, which meant that I actually got to experience the New Year twice in a single day). But although I did have an excellent time in London for the next five months this did not really undo the effects of being ridiculously young in school for so long. You can’t really move time around like that, I am sorry to say.
But I suppose the thing I’m getting at here is that a seemingly ordinary day can go from being somewhat fun to dreadful to somewhat fun again all in a period of a few years. This is really the way that time works. We have days that come around every year and we remember what we were doing on that same day the year before (or many years before) and sometimes it was something similar and sometimes it was so different it feels like it may have been someone else’s life.
Every time I actually turn the clocks in my house back (or ahead) it feels like I’m doing something illegal, just casually messing around with time like that. It is so arbitrary and at the same time so strangely meaningful. And even now all I can do is marvel at how many hours are left in the day.