Productivity Tips from Dr. Melissa Gratias
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The Bittersweet Reality of “Found Time”

By Melissa Gratias, Ph.D. 

Yesterday, my son passed his road test and got his license to drive. He is our youngest, so the days of school drop offs, pickups, swim runs, driving him to a friend’s house…those are over.


When I said goodnight to him last night, it wasn’t, “See you at 6:45 am in the kitchen. Make sure you are wearing shoes.” Instead, I said, “See you tomorrow evening for dinner.”


We hugged and cried a little. It’s the end of an era. He is a delightful young person, and I have loved spending time with him in the car.


Drive time with him consisted of catching up on our days, talking about how much we both loved the dog (who was usually in the car with us), singing and dancing to 80s power ballads, and a good amount of comfortable silence as well.

Now, I have some serious “found time” in my life. I don’t even know what to say, much less do.


I am not one of those parents who proclaims that “It all went so fast,” and “I wish they were babies,” and so on. I have cherished (and lamented) aspects of every developmental stage.


I feel like I have been a parent for my entire life. It went beautifully, and sometimes agonizingly, slow.


Today is my 26th wedding anniversary. My beloved texted me this morning saying that he is “really excited about our next phase of life together.” I am, too. I know that there are good things in store for us.


But what do I do with all this…time?


I imagine that this bittersweet “found time” also happens after deaths, divorce, and other similar heartbreaks. Part of the grief process is deciding who you are and what you’ll do next. I am grieving right now, and that is okay.


I will eventually settle into a new normal. I will dust off old projects, perhaps dust off this middle-aged body, and do the things I said I wanted to do when “I have more time.”


Today, I am going to just breathe. Maybe, I’ll do that tomorrow as well.


I am grateful for the time I spent driving him around.


It was an amazing ride.



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