A minute. 60 seconds. A moment.
As a wife and mother, my family expect me to be able to do a multitude of tasks whenever they need it done. I am not complaining, and I am not alone. There are millions of us.
We are the consummate professionals at juggling life.
We are expected to switch from one task to another in the blink of an eye, to satisfying the needs of our family right then and there, whatever it might be, at any time of the day or night. It’s all part of the job, so ‘they’ say.
The Kitchen At Dinner Time
You are almost finished cooking dinner. The table is only half set. The cats are eating their dinner under-foot. The kids are hungry, and thirsty and competing with each other to tell you something about their day at school even though they’ve had four hours to tell you since you picked them up from school, but they wait until this moment.
Your husband walks in from a long day at work. All hell lets loose as everyone launches themselves at him, clambering to be the first one to hug him, kiss him, be picked up. My girls always ask him every day, “did you bring me a surprise?”. The birds can hear him and want their attention too so they start squawking.
The dinner is ready. You’re frantically trying to kiss your husband hello too, and take the cooked food out of the oven before it burns at the same time. The kids want juice. You remember that you only half finished laying the table.
You ask your husband how his day was, and desperately try to hear what he’s saying over the screaming from the kids who are now fighting over who gets the cup with the flowers on it – no, not the pink one, the white one.
I see you, my love.
He tries to help finish setting the table but accidentally kicks the cat’s water dish and you now try clean it up before the kids walk through it and leave muddy footprints all over the house, or slip in it.
Eventually everyone is sitting at the table with their plates full of food, and their cups full of juice. You sit down, and just need a minute. One. Minute.
You take a deep breath, pick up your fork, and the first request comes through “Mom, can I get a teaspoon for my corn please?” You get up to get the spoon knowing it won’t be the last time you get up before your dinner is finished. You’ll be lucky to finish it before it’s cold. It’s okay. You don’t mind. You don’t even notice anymore, not really.
I’m going to assume this is pretty normal and the whole scene can be tweaked and played out in homes across the world.
The School Car Park
You’ve had a hectic morning: laundry, chores, banking, grocery shopping, taking cats to the vet, preparing what you’re going to cook for dinner. You drive to the school to pick up the kids knowing what the afternoon schedule is going to be like with all the soccer, dancing and swimming practices to ferry kids to and from.
You turn the car engine off, and you take a minute. One. Minute. A breath.
Then you open the door and go to fetch your kids from their classrooms. They are excited to see you but tired from a long morning of learning and playing. Their friends all want to say hello. You have a quick chat with your mom friends, which is interrupted a million times by both her kids and yours.
You finally get everyone in the car, strapped into their chairs, bags safely stowed away. You get in the car, and you take a breath. One. Minute.
Then you start the car and before you even get out the school gates, the kids are fighting or arguing about who’s going to tell you a story about their day first, or how they don’t want to go to dancing today, or how so-and-so hurt their feelings at school.
My phone is ringing through on the car-kit, it’s my husband, he needs to let me know something, or ask me something, but it’s impossible for us to hear each other over the commotion coming from the back seat.
You’re also desperately trying to concentrate on the road so you both end up giving up on the call – you can try again later, you’ll get your moment together. As soon as the call drops, the car is quiet (why do they always do that?). You take a breath. One. Minute.
It’s All ‘Normal’ – whatever that might be.
There are a thousand different variations. There are a million different moments happening every day, all over the world.
That one breath, that 60 seconds, that one moment. That is the time every woman needs. It’s the time we take to recharge, to mentally prepare, to be all we can to everyone who needs something different from us.
This is who you are
You are their mom. You are their wife.
They are your whole world.
In the blink of an eye, that moment is gone. But you needed it. It’s okay. You’ll get another one soon.
Don’t forget to breathe. You can take that minute.