From Chicken Soup for the Working Woman's Soul

Just a Few More Minutes

The best thing to spend on your children is your time.

Louise Hart

“Just a few more minutes . . . please, Mommy!”

Although my own children were grown, I found myself turning instinctively in the direction of the little voice. He was trailing after his mother, looking reluctantly over his shoulder at a display of remote-control toys in the large department store.

He couldn’t have been more than four years old. With chubby cheeks and wispy blond hair going in several directions, he trotted behind his mother down the main aisle of the department store. His boots caught my eye. They were green. Really green. Bright, shiny, Kermit-the-Frog green. Obviously new and a little too big, the boots stopped just below his knees, leaving a hint of dimpled legs disappearing into rumpled shorts. Perfect boots for the rainy transition from summer to fall.

He stopped abruptly at a display of full-length mirrors, lifting one foot at a time, grinning and admiring his boots until his mother called for him to catch up to her. Dressed in a suit, heels clicking on the tile floor, she was tossing items into her cart as she and her son made their way to the checkout lanes at the front of the store.

I smiled at the picture he made clumping noisily behind his mother. I found myself wondering if she had just picked him up from daycare after a busy day in an office somewhere. I sighed as I selected an item and put it in my own cart. My days of trying to juggle a full-time job and two small children had been busy, sometimes even hectic, but I missed them.

Finishing my own shopping, I forgot about the little boy and his mother until I stepped outside the store. There a panorama unfolded before me. The rain had slowed to a drizzle, perforating the numerous puddles in the parking lot. Several mothers with their small children were hurrying in and out of the department store. The children were, of course, making beelines to the puddles that dotted their way from the cars to the store’s entrance. The mothers were right behind them, scolding.

“Get away from that puddle!”

“You’ll ruin your shoes!”

“What’s the matter with you? Are you deaf? I said, GET OUT OF THAT PUDDLE!”

And so it continued. The children were being pulled away from the puddles and hurried along. All except for one . . . the little green-booted boy.

He and his mother were not rushing anywhere. The boy was happily splashing away in the largest puddle in the parking lot, oblivious to the rain and to the people coming and going. His wispy hair was plastered to his head and a huge smile was plastered on his face. And his mother? She put up her umbrella, adjusted her packages and waited. Not scolding, not rushing. Just watching.

As she fished her car keys out of her purse, the boy, hearing the familiar jingling, paused in mid-splash and looked up.

“Just a few more minutes? Please, Mommy?” he begged.

She hesitated, and then she smiled at him.

“Okay!” she responded and adjusted her packages again.

By the time I got to my car, loaded my packages and was ready to ease out of my parking space, the green-booted boy and his mother were walking toward their car, smiling and talking.

How many times had my own children begged for “just a few more minutes”? Had I smiled and waited like the mother of the green-booted boy? Or had I scolded?

Just a few more minutes of giggling and splashing in the bathtub. So what if bedtime got pushed back a little?

Just a few more minutes of rocking a sleepy toddler. So what if toys were strewn around the room, littering the floor?

Just a few more minutes of life with them before they were grown and gone. So what if my career goals didn’t fit my original timeline?

Just a few more minutes. Everything I have read about time management for working mothers can be summed up in one picture. The picture of that young mother standing under her umbrella, arms full of packages, smiling at a wet, green-booted boy who had asked her the universal time-management question for working mothers everywhere, “Just a few more minutes?”

Sara Henderson

CLOSE TO HOME. John McPherson. Reprinted with permission of UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE. All rights reserved.

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