5 minutes

Just five minutes, I thought.  If I could just have five minutes of quiet, all to myself—to be still, to read, to think, to write.  Just five minutes.  I might feel sane again.  I might be able to hear myself think for the five minutes thereafter.  I might be able to function.

But with two little people in the house, I can’t even seem to go to the bathroom without someone having a terrible emergency—like losing a sock or missing a toy or needing a drink or a dolly needing dressed or having to go potty themselves—the very second I close the door

It’s been a long couple of weeks of wanting/needing/missing those five minutes or more to rest, relax, recuperate.

I spent five minutes telling my doctor about it.  She gave me a hug and assured me I was completely normal.  She told me (not that I hadn’t noticed) that my hormones are going up and down a whole lot right now and that I need to rest and do something fun once in a while.

I spent much more than five minutes telling another mom about it over coffee.  She’s birthed, homeschooled, and raised six children—and she’s not even all grey yet.  She, too, assured me I was completely normal.  That I had many reasons for feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and over-emotional about everything right now.

But she also reminded me that I needed to love my family enough to take that time to get rest to be able to care for them better.

But I feel guilty, I told her—like it’s selfish to even want time to myself, away from everything.  I feel guilty for shutting the bedroom door and explaining that Mommy needs “mommy time.”

And yet, even as I said it, the whisper from somewhere came again to my mind, “Even Jesus went away alone to rest and pray.”

“Those feelings of inadequacy are not of God,” Joan told me.  “You can’t be Super-super-super Woman.  You have to change your expectations of yourself—and also, perhaps, of your children.”

And she told me, as she’d told me before, how she wished she’d not spent so much of her children’s growing-up years stressing over having everything perfect.  That she wished she’d just relaxed and enjoyed it.

So, through tears and over coffee and with hugs, I’ve listened to the suggestions of those older and wiser and further along the road of motherhood than I am.

We’ve instituted quiet rest time—complete with a special basket of very quiet toys for big sister to play with while little sister naps.  I’ve created anticipation and set the expectations.  I close my bedroom door.  Sometimes, I put up my feet and close my eyes.  Sometimes, I read.  Sometimes, I write.  Always, I pray.  For a lot longer than five minutes, if at all possible.

And you know what?  Everyone has survived without me.  (Even if the door has been opened and I’ve had to explain that quiet rest time really isn’t over.)  And I’ve felt a lot more “able” the rest of the 287 five-minute slots throughout the day.  I’ve also felt a bit more relaxed in my expectations of myself and my children.  Not to mention that when I’m more relaxed, they are more enjoyable, and life is more livable.

Now if only I can keep my daughter from asking for quiet rest time every five minutes of the morning.  I guess we both look forward to those more-than-five-minutes.  Maybe we all need some space—for at least five minutes.

Written in slightly-more-than-five-minutes for Lisa-Jo’s Five-Minute Friday.  It sounds rather like she and I have had similar weeks.  Couldn’t have anything to do with both of us being in the third trimester of pregnancy, could it? Winking smile

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  1. OUTSTANDING, Gretchen…as we think about having more kids not too long from now, I worry about this very thing…will I have a little bit of time to breathe?? I NEED her nap times now. Good to know some tips for when the time comes. GOOD FOR YOU for taking care of yourself!

  2. Oh! I just love your blog! The layout is so cool and your header pics and even the snow falling on the screen. How clever and creative!

    On your post…my mom used to say to my sister and I that she couldn’t even go to the bathroom in peace because we followed her EVERYWHERE! I can say from the daughter’s perspective that we loved/love Mom so much, we liked JUST to be around her. I think you little one MUST surely feel the same!

  3. This is precious. Thank you for sharing your heart because you’ve probably just set who knows how many moms of toddlers free who will read this post. I’ve got two boys, a 4 year old and an 11 year old and I have often said that I think there is some correlation between my rear-end touching any object on which to sit and the precise moment that someone needs juice, or paper, or the tv channel changed, or homework help, or a snack, or to go potty, or…well the list is endless as you know yourself. But you’ve got to find that time to carve out of your day to take just a few minutes for yourself…you need that time to restore and renew a little. Of course here I am saying all this and I must admit I haven’t been doing such a hot job of it myself in the past few weeks. I think you’ve inspired me to get back on track…


  4. I’m so glad you’re striving to get the rest you need!! We have nap/rest time too(my 2 and 1 year old nap and my 3 year old sometimes naps and sometimes plays quietly) and it is sooo helpful. And I think my 3 year old looks forward to it too, just as you were saying yours does!