Five more minutes: Chicago mom is learning to cherish family time

When they were much smaller – just one and three years old – these boys of mine would roll over in our big family bed, throw back the covers and greet me out of sound sleep with either a hearty “Good morning!” or a face full of baby drool.

On weekends, I’d smile at their cute little faces, wipe the sleep from my eyes . . . then promptly poke my husband, begging him to take the little ones downstairs so I could catch a bit more sleep. “Just five more minutes,” I’d whisper.

As soon as our crew was downstairs, I’d immediately fall back into that kind of dead sleep that moms of babies and toddlers know as the time warp; it feels like five minutes but it’s really been two hours. Where did that time go, and why don’t I feel any richer for it?

Throughout their youngest years, I found myself often vying for just five more minutes – to cook, to clean, to shower, to relax, to chat with a friend, to write – before their chubby little legs would bring them running to me for a drink refill or help finding a toy or, during those blissful mommy moments, a hug and a kiss. Those brief, fleeting moments of time I had to myself were much like that other kind of time warp we mothers face where there is never enough time no matter how many hours there are in the day.

The feeling of being sucked into a time warp doesn’t change, though the specifics do as kids grow older and we grow into our mother-skins.

My youngest turned four a few weeks ago, and almost overnight he went from toddler to preschooler, leaving me feeling like I’d went to sleep in one era only to wake and find myself living in this brave new world of bigger kids – without any babies in my arms or toddlers constantly at my feet.

I’ve been wondering where all of those five minutes I’d stolen for myself over the years had gone. How could they have possibly turned into four years since I’d birthed my second baby and six since I labored to meet our first. I’ve been mourning how the past six years have felt like the shortest five minutes ever. I’ve been longing for just five more minutes of tiny fingers and toes, early morning wake up calls to grinning chubby cheeks and pudgy hands grasping my own.

As my four-year-old has been venturing into his childhood and finding his (rather big) voice and (even bigger) opinion, he’s picked up on the very expression I’ve mumbled in my head during these long yet short six years of motherhood: “Just five more minutes, mom.”

He’ll say these words as I’m trying to help him get his shoes on or get him and his big brother ready for bed or usher him out of the house on time. It’s always when the clock is ticking and we can’t delay without throwing off what little schedule we have.

I’m often tempted to rush him through the process, follow the numbers on the clock rather than the overwhelming urge of my beating heart to linger longer in this now, in this reality.

What could five more minutes of reading or playing or snuggling at night really give them? The answer seems simple: not much of anything.

But then I stop and think about the complexity of these time warps. I remember that just five more minutes can mean everything to the heart when it’s trying to soak up just a little bit more.

So these days we often spend five more minutes doing whatever it is that fills the heart, whatever it is that makes time feel a little less warped.

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