“Just a minute,” I repeated for the bazillionth time, a phrase completely lost on a 3 1/2 year old boy, whose only goal for the day, or in life, is to play ‘fireman emergency’ without interruption. On this, the rainiest day ever, I’d managed to nearly occupy him with a DVR’d Christmas special and his requested snack, wholegrain oatmeal [I’m serious, he really asked for oatmeal – finally a quirk that works, right?] My husband had offered to pick up a few groceries on his way home from work, so I wouldn’t have to drag two stir-crazy children to the grocery store. I needed to email him a short list from my phone. I thought if I could get it done quickly, I might not forget anything this time. 3 1/2 year olds are funny. When they don’t get results after asking for something a handful of times, they continue the asking with increasing pitch and frequency. Funny, right? Hilarious.
After stalling on his request for a drink for a few repetitions, the room got quiet. You know the kind of quiet I’m talking about. Too quiet. Before I could call out his name in the direction of the gentle rustling I could hear in the next room, he wandered into sight, glass of water in hand. He proudly walked over to me to tell me he’d gotten a glass out of the cabinet, poured water from the fridge, and added a splash of “tickle water” [carbonated water, cute right?] from a bottle on the counter. My heart melted. I was at once beaming with pride and tearful with sorrow, and even a little mad at myself. It was one of those motherhood moments where you know you got it a little wrong, and where you know you’ll pay the price by time suddenly speeding up a little more.
They say life is what happens while you’re busy making plans. In few other aspects of life than parenting is this saying more true, nor in that particular moment for me, more literal. In just a minute, as I wrote a grocery list, my first baby went from asking for my help to helping himself. I thought of all the other things this startling realization meant. I looked down at the Lightning McQueen bandaid on my toe. In just another minute, I wouldn’t be dressing their bobo’s, or my own, with cartoon bandaids. In just a minute, I’d be able to cook dinner using both arms, because I’d have no baby to hold in one of them. In just a minute, I’d be Mom instead of Mommy, and then a weekend laundry service. In just a minute, well, my time is up. Nap time is over, and I promised to play fireman emergency, for just a minute more.