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My twenty minutes

I’m a high-energy, loud, fidgety person. I have a toddler. A cat. A 800-square-foot condo. My home is usually about as tranquil as a DMZ.

For these reasons, I really treasure my small moments of stillness. Stillness is vital to my mental health. So every day, when the Child goes down for a nap, I have 45 minutes of time to myself. (After 45 minutes, for whatever reason, she always wakes up, screaming and cranky and confused, and I have to coax her back to sleep. I may or may not get some down time after that first wake up. It’s really hit or miss.)

So during those treasured, precious, 45 minutes, I do two things. First, I clean up one room, usually the dining room. I clear the clutter, sweep the floor, wipe away crumbs and cheerios and random crap. That usually takes about 25 minutes, because I have just fed The Child and it’s a mess. Then I set myself a place at the table — place mat with matching cloth napkin, plate, fork, knife, glass — and I sit and eat lunch. It’s the only meal that I get to eat without having to feed The Child at the same time, never mind checking on the cat, reading a Sandra Boynton book, getting more food for everyone, monitoring something on the stove or in the oven.

I sit at a clean table in front of a nice place setting, and I eat. I usually read, too. But mostly I’m somewhere clean and quiet and I’m being still. Sometimes I will have already eaten or I’m not hungry, and then I have a cup of tea instead.

Today, for reasons that I cannot fathom, The Child chose not to nap until well after 2 o’clock. She kicked and fussed and poked and prodded and pinched and squirmed and bit when I tried to nurse her down. From 11:30 until 12:45, I tried every trick I knew to get her down. Finally, 1 o’clock rolled around and I was shaking with hunger (and frankly, frustration).

And I had to eat my lunch in a messy dining room, with The Child popping in and out to ask me questions and show me drawings and open the bookshelves and pull every fucking issue of Martha Stewart for the past ten years onto the floor. I was snarling and on the verge of tears and ready to scream or beat my head into the wall by the time she finally went down at 2:20.

I don’t think i ever realized just how much I need that 20 minutes before today.

Categories: motherhood
  1. February 8, 2008 at 12:01 am

    It’s amazing how much rejuvination can come from those small but oh so necessary chunks of time!

  2. February 12, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Why don’t they just want to sleep????? I for one could use a regular afternoon nap.! 🙂


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