Lunch was finished, the dishes were done.
I had sent the kids outside to burn off their copious energy in the snow.
I poured myself some tea and settled in to a little undisturbed knitting time. A rare treat.
A few rows in the door opened.
"Mama, will you come outside and play with me?"
I sat, silent, mulling over her request.
Because I was relishing my "me time". My selfish time. My tea and my yarn.
A small part of me wanted to be there. For her.
While she still wanted to play with her mama in the snow.
That part of me that was content to put down my needles and go out to play with her.
While she is still small, for one more day.
But then there was the selfish me that wanted to stay right where I was.
Cozy, inside, and alone.
I really wanted that.
And it was a dirty truth, like somehow taking care of me is less acceptable than caring for her.
The martyrdom of motherhood.
I was torn between two truths, two selfs.
The loving, giving, mother-self and the dark and greedy "me-first" self.
(The one who cooks their favorite meals and the one who hides the chocolate.)
But that's rubbish, I decided. Neither was bad; both were authentic.
Both were vital.
So first I would knit. Just a few more rows.
She could wait.
Then I'd give her fifteen minutes.
Because even if I wasn't feeling it I could play for fifteen minutes.
I would finish my tea and then go outside.
For just fifteen minutes.
After that I could come back in and knit.
If I wanted to. Which I was certain I would.
Just fifteen minutes. An easy commitment.
Surely I could muster that.
And so I savored my tea and when it was done I knitted up an extra row, stalling just a little.
The door opened.
"Are you coming, mama? Are you done with your tea?"
Her eyes were bright. She was waiting.
Just fifteen minutes. I could do this.
I was on my way.
Out, into the snow. The fresh air. The togetherness.
We cooked pine needles and bittersweet in her play kitchen.
I pushed her on the swing "all the way up to the sky".
We raced with the dog and then wandered down to the marsh and the creek.
We laughed. Held hands. Pushed each other down in the snow.
At first I was going through the motions, thinking about my knitting and all the work that awaited me back inside. But soon I had lost track of time and lost myself in this pink sky and these blue eyes.
As I found joy in our play I never wondered if the fifteen minutes had passed so that I could go back inside.
Immersed in the moment, I forgot completely about knitting, and tea, and time.
How long did we spend? An hour, maybe two. Even now I'm not sure.
We watched a coyote, an eagle pair, the sunset.
I watched her.
Growing taller before my eyes.
We crossed the creek at dusk, heading into the hills as the light faded.
And I marveled at how I had bought the best part of my day through a bargain with myself to give her fifteen minutes.
Do you have fifteen minutes to spare?
For a story, a walk, a game, a conversation – for connecting deeply with those you love.
What would you find in that sliver of time?
Just for choosing to be present, completely, with these precious ones we love.
Just fifteen minutes.
See where it takes you.
I'm certain you won't regret it.
And with that I'm off. I have a cup of tea and some knitting to attend to.
Because, yes. Caring for myself? That matters, too.