I steal from my children. The loot is nothing tangible—I don’t swipe quarters from their piggy banks or cookies off their lunch plates.
What I steal is more valuable.
Bit by bit, I snatch it—in increments of just a minute.
“Mom, can I please have a cup of juice with my breakfast?”
Sure, sweetheart, just give me a minute.
“Come see my picture, Momma! I colored it for you!”
Wonderful! I’ll be there in a minute.
“Mom, I need your help. I can’t pull the cap off my glue stick.”
Okay, just a minute.
“Will you read me this book, Momma? Please?”
Just a minute—I need to finish emptying the dishwasher. While stacking plates, I notice crumbs scattered around the toaster, so I wipe the counter. When I hang the dishcloth on the faucet, I see the sink needs scrubbing, which reminds me I’m almost out of paper towels, so I sit down to write out the shopping list. Shopping makes me think about the checkbook, so I flip open my laptop and pay a few bills online. And since I’m already at the computer, I might as well send a quick e-mail to my sister.
“Mom? Did you forget about my juice?”
Oops. If you give a mom a minute—she’ll take twenty. Then minutes add up to hours, and hours add up to days spent investing in my own preoccupations rather than my children.
Should a mom be her child’s slave? No. Delayed gratification can teach young ones patience and selflessness. But I’m not talking about unreasonable demands here. When my kids ask for juice or books, they’re really asking for something else.
They want me.
My attention. My affirmation. My love. They want to feel safe.
I am their safe place.
“Those who fear the LORD are secure; he will be a refuge for their children,” (Proverbs 14:26, NLT).
How many times a day do I say “just a minute”? Too many. It’s my default reply. But not anymore. I’m determined to switch this around. From now on, instead of stealing minutes, I’m going to grant them.
Yes, I will bring you that juice—because it’s only going to cost me a minute.
Sure, I can help with that glue stick. It’ll interrupt my dishes for just a little minute.
I’d love to read that book. My to-do list can pause for a minute—or twenty—because that’s all it really takes to make you feel important.
You are my priority. You are my heart. More often than I allow, everything else can wait just a minute.
“Hey, sweetie, your sister and I are going to read library books. Want to join us?” I stood in my five-year-old daughter’s bedroom doorway and smiled. She knelt on the rug, surrounded by dollhouse furniture. I watched her ponytail swish back and forth while she slid a plastic dining table into place.
“Sure, Mom, but I’m kind of busy. I’ll be there in just a minute.”
Ah. Heaven help me.