She sits in my lap and we read this same book three times in a row. Each time we finish it, she says, “Again.”
My throat feels dry. My head aches dully. I want a sip of water. I read the book again; we get to the end, and her little voice says, “Again.”
I put the book down and she cries. Her cry gets louder, and my headache becomes momentarily sharper. I tell her Mommy needs something to drink.
The truth is that even though this day is coming to a close, I haven’t fully woken up. The truth is that this book isn’t really that cute. The truth is I know she wants to read, but I have a billion other grown-up things I feel like I should do.
After drinking some water, I decide to return to the couch, where she still sits holding her book and whimpering. She climbs back into my lap.
Her big sister, home from school, leaves the TV show she was watching, and curls up next to me. I cover her feet and legs with a blanket, too, and squeeze a girl’s hand in each of mine. We read the same story together again, and then they temporarily leave my side to get more books.
We sit intertwined like this—reading, and holding hands, and snuggling—for about 15 minutes.
Dinner still needs to be made.
The kitchen is filled with both clean dishes that need to be put away and dirty ones that need washing.
I still have to make my oldest’s lunch for school tomorrow.
Both of my kids should probably have a bath.
For 15 minutes, I ignore all of this and instead bury myself inside of the softest part of being a mother—that special place where there’s only me with my children, holding hands and being together.
The dishes can wait 15 minutes.
Starting dinner can wait for 15 minutes.
Packing a school lunch can be done in 15 minutes.
Everything can be put on hold for this tiny span within my life, but if I get up and walk away to do these chores weighing on my grown-up mind, and come back only a minute later to say, “Ah, never mind kids, let’s read a bit,” more often than not they’ve found another little kid interest and have moved on.
And I’m left standing in the doorway alone, wishing I’d sat down for just 15 minutes.