4:00 in the afternoon now means multi-tasking homework with one, piano practice with the other, and potty duty with the third while unloading the dishwasher and trying to start dinner. Three simultaneous needs with the requests/whines to accompany each. Knowing that there is precisely 23 minutes to accomplish all of the above before rushing everyone out the door for a lesson or practice. Its loud, disheveled and full.
4:00 in the afternoon used to mean a grouchy baby, still sleepy from a nap. Putting him or her in the car seat and driving around with no pre determined destination, trying to calm the baby down and knock off the 2-3 hours until bedtime. Its quiet, lonely and still.
And once upon a time 4:00 meant it was time to check in on the progress of others, make calls to clients, give reports from the day, issue apologies, accept that dinner would be from the vending machine and cancel plans for after-work happy hour with friends or spouse. Its surrendering, frustrating and stagnant.
The start of the busy time of the day, the wrap up of the day, or the check-in point halfway through.
I miss that 4:00 a lot, then again, not at all.