Keeping time

We live in an age where we’re always on the move. And that societal rhythm affects the heightened pace we keep as a family. 

As a mom, I know I’m the metronome in setting the tempo for our kids — maybe even more so than their dad is. 

And as you may have heard me mention before, I prefer a normal walking speed as opposed to that uncomfortable, walking-but-trying-not-to-run speed we regularly try to keep. 

If I’m feeling frustrated, it’s usually from this speed of life we keep. 

How I wish we could slow it all down! 


Italian is the language of musical terms. Composers will often use one-word descriptors above the few first few measures of a piece, so the director or conductor and musicians understand the pace that was originally intended. 

Affrettando means hurried; in music, it’s a “rushed, nervous accelerando” or “to hastily increase the tempo in an impatient manner.”

It’s not that I don’t love my kids’ involvement with sports, music lessons and choirs. It’s just that all of the practice schedules, games and concerts seem to conflict with my idea of having some unscheduled time.  

Time unscheduled means time to roll with it. Time to make a decision and do what I want to do — even if it’s a bit of work or pulling weeds in my yard. 

But isn’t there something amazing about those days you can stay in your jammie pants an extra hour or take a longer walk on the trail, just because you knew you didn’t have to be anywhere? 

I want my kids to have that, too. 

What ends up happening is that my role as Mom becomes being a constant reminder bell of when things start — and how much time they have before they must get ready to go. 

On top of that, I talk myself out of doing some of these extras because I don’t feel I have the energy to squeeze it in between our many activities.


Legato describes a smoothness; in music, it’s a “flowing manner, without breaks between notes.”

When we aren’t being constantly pressed by life’s demands, I sometimes get the chance to really talk to my teens — and to sit and listen to them. And the tick-tock — of the few years of high school left on the clock — beats less loudly. 

My 14-year-old daughter takes piano. 

She has a wonderful, energetic, loving piano teacher she meets with once a week for lessons. Over the course of three years, her teacher’s outgoing spirit has nurtured the inward expressions of my daughter’s heart with rhythms, finger placements and chords. 

She introduces art or other songs that connect to my daughter’s interests or help explain a new piece she’s learning. 

I’d like to say their personalities make great music together. They are the right and left hand, playing in sync. 

Did I mention they’re about 60 years apart?

Isn’t it fascinating that when a soul connects to another, it doesn’t matter that shell of its carrier is a different age or from a different background? 


She’s taught my daughter to keep that tempo that I long for (and that I’d hope to teach her) — andante, “a moderately slow tempo.”

It’s like the burden of sharing that lesson has been shared with me; and the result is a multi-faceted gift of acceptance, honesty and self-expression. 

She also has my girl name the flowers growing outside of her door; and my daughter brings them to me to display in a small vase I keep out just for them. 

Sometimes she just walks alongside her as she walks to the bus stop and reminds her of all the beauty around her. 

She teaches my girl, and reminds me that andante, walking speed, is a pace I can keep.

Jennifer Wizbowski lives in Excelsior with her husband, and their teenage daughter and son. Send comments, questions and story ideas to