Right-brain Girl Makes a Time Machine

I’m no sci-fi girl and not particularly crafty. But as soon as that big fabulous box carrying our new double stroller arrived at our door a decade ago, I thought to myself I’m going to make a time machine.

It was the coolest box I’d ever seen. It had a front pull-down panel that, to me, (then a sleep-deprived mom to a four-year-old, two-year-old, and newborn) looked exactly like a ramp leading up to a spacecraft.


After turning on a Dora the Explorer video to occupy the kiddos, I grabbed some aluminum foil, leftover Christmas wrap, and tape. Within 30 minutes, the brown box transformed into a silvery, sparkly capsule with red and white star accents and a “time-o-meter.”

It was no stainless steel DeLorean with flashing lights like the time-travel device built by Doc Brown in the 1980’s Back to the Future trilogy, but I was satisfied.

By then, Dora and Boots had solved the riddle, Kid 1 was yanking at my shirt for more fish crackers, Kid 2 was emptying all the eggs and salad dressings from the fridge onto the kitchen floor, and Kid 3 was hungry and crying her lungs out. If only this time machine were real.

Some days back then felt like an eternity. I’ll admit, at times, I would’ve given anything to zoom ahead a few years or even just a couple hours to naptime.

These days, though, now that Kid 1, 2, and 3 are Teen, Tween, and Pretween (POOF! Just like that. Maybe that time machine really did work), all I want is for time to slow down and maybe even to go in a reverse a tiny bit.

Mechanism of old clock on black background. Clock face and hands showing five minutes to midnight.

These days, now that Kid 1, 2, and 3 are Teen, Tween, and Pretween (POOF! Just like that. Maybe that time machine really did work), all I want is for time to slow down and maybe even to go in a reverse a tiny bit.

According to leading physicists, travelling backwards in time to squeeze our grown children’s sweet baby cheeks one more time (or get a glimpse of what our parents were like in high school) is pretty much impossible. The reasons are beyond my scope, but it has something to do with the limitations of tiny space tunnels called wormholes and mind-boggling paradoxes.

However, theories for slowing time down and speeding ahead to the future continue to percolate.

In Stephen Hawking’s 2010 Daily Mail article “How to make a time machine,” (which I read after being completely captivated by the movie Theory of Everything), the astrophysicist explains that if we had the technology to create a spaceship big enough to hold the massive amounts of gasoline required to accelerate to 99 percent of the speed of light (186,000 miles per second), time travel would occur.

Why? Because gravity would cause time on the ship to be slowed down relative to Earth. “At this speed, a single day on board is a whole year of Earth time,” Hawking wrote.

Gah! Whatever contributes to the slowing down of time, I’m all for it.  But this English major can only take in so much astrophysics and cosmology.

Do I still have that time machine I made years ago? It lingered around the house and garage for a few years, but eventually it got tossed to the curb with the other recyclables. My mind still drifts away from the present moment more than it should, though, as I rehash old regrets or worry needlessly about things that haven’t happened yet.

Science has a long way to go in making time travel feasible. But for slowing time down, as you know, there’s a much less complicated method we can use starting today. That is, of course, to appreciate the here and now. Simple as that. Although, for those of us with time-travelling minds, it requires some discipline.

With that, I leave you here with my simple, right-brain-pleasing action plan for today:

  1. Take a deep breath, and start my day with a prayer (instead of with a sigh and “here we go again”).
  2. Hug my kids and husband.
  3. Drink my first cup of coffee in front of the window instead of in front of my phone or computer monitor.
  4. Go on a vigorous walk, but this time, instead of thinking about what I need to do after the walk, count how many trees I pass that would be great to climb.
  5. Put some fresh sheets on our bed.
  6. Write down a couple things I’m worrying about on a piece of paper, and then crunch it up. Most things we fear never happen anyway.
  7. Try with all my might to stay focused and zoomed in during each conversation.
  8. Ask each of my kids at dinner to tell me something really cool they saw or heard today.
  9. Practice cutting a bunch of carrots all the same width. No. I’m not actually going to do that. I buy those mini, pre-cut ones anyway.
  10. Hug my kids and husband again.

Julie Jo Severson is mom to a teen, tween, and pretween and emerging freelance writer with two desks.  Click here to learn more about what’s inside this desk. Click here to view her other recent posts.

About Julie Jo Severson

Julie Jo Severson, former PR girl, is now a freelance writer, journalist, editor, and lost-and-found attendant for two teens and a tween. This is where she doodles about past, present, future clinking glasses and making peace.

12 comments on “Right-brain Girl Makes a Time Machine

  1. You’re such a cool mom, Julie! Making that time machine! What a great idea. I would have loved something like that as a kid – all the places my imagination could have gone with it. Very cool! 🙂 Your plan to slow down time and enjoy and appreciate it sounds perfects … well, except for the slicing up tiny carrots thing. I’ve never been all that good with knives. Might end up slicing my finger instead of the carrot. Other than that, I’d say it’s perfect.

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting and hosting Marcia. I’m not good with knives either. I sliced my thumb cutting veggies when I was eight months pregnant with my first child, damaged a tendon as a result, and had to nurse and care for my newborn with a stint on. Precut carrots are the way to go.

  2. Love this so much!! I couldn’t agree more. I have three daughters and, when they were babies/toddlers, there were plenty of days when I wished the time away. Now, my oldest will officially be a teenager in August and I definitely wish time would slow down just a little!

  3. This is the best thing I’ve read all day – maybe there’s a reason it’s been sitting open in my browser all day until now, after the cats are fed and the kid is in bed. I think you time machine sounds awful and I love your spin here – all we need to slow time is to remember to be active in the present moment. These are great things. I’m going to take that one about coffee by the window and do it tomorrow.

  4. Great tips I really need to put in place for myself today (i.e. writing things down I’m worrying about to get them out of my head).

    I love the idea of creating a time machine. I miss the days of creating imaginative things with boxes and the likes! Love the photo.

    As my tween step son rapidly enters puberty I can empathise with the thought of going back in time…or forward past the next few years of hormones, attitude, etc! But deep down he’s still a good kid.

  5. As always you write so beautifully, and I love your thoughts here. I’ve been having a really bad couple of days, still feeling crappy today, but reading this made me feel a lot better. I’m going to give my kids and hubby a big hug right now xx

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