I thought I had more time. I thought I had a lot more time, in fact.
For so long, I pushed my children away, intent on getting the “important” stuff of life done first. I thought if I could just finish the work, close out the article, update the spreadsheet, switch the laundry, start dinner, or make the phone call, they would wait for me.
“Just a minute,” I would say. “Mom will play with you when I’m done here. I just need to finish this really quick.”
With four babies in six years, I felt like my life was a never-ending roller coaster of trying to fit things in between the next diaper change or tiny person tantrum. I sprinted in between tasks, doing my best to support my family as I worked from home, while also protecting my house from those very family members who loved to tear through toy baskets and cupboards when my back was turned.
I dreamed of the day when I could complete a task without someone small interrupting me. Is it just me or do kids have a sixth sense that allows them to wake up from a nap or need to use the potty at the exact second you sit down to do something?
I once longed for silence in my house — for that space that would allow me to finish a thought in my own head. I pictured tailored schedules that would allow me to “have it all,” and it looked something like
8 AM: Breakfast
10 AM – 12 PM: Work
4 PM: Time with children
I imagined that life would be so much calmer when my children could learn to wait for me in an orderly fashion. I envisioned a life where I would do my work, then turn to my children (who were, of course, waiting patiently for me to be done), so I could then pay attention to them. I thought life would surely settle down when they could just wait one minute so I could then focus fully on them. How could they not see that I was trying so hard for them?
But somewhere along the line, it started to dawn on me that something terrible could happen as a result of my demand for obedient children who could learn to wait: What would happen if my children, always learning to wait for me, learned to stop waiting for me, too?