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Twenty Minutes

A few Sundays ago, early in the morning, I put one child down for a nap while the other lazily rolled out of bed ready to veg on the couch, eat a waffle and watch Barney. I acted quickly on this rare opportunity and asked (I know, why do I feel that I need permission?) Andy if I could sneak back to the laundry room to walk on the treadmill. As fast as possible, I threw on running clothes and sneakers, knowing that at any minute a baby cry could end my potential work out. I dumped a load of laundry in the washer and spent the next twenty minutes listening to my ipod and speed walking. I'd cut out a 10-minute exercise plan from a women's magazine and carried it, and my yoga mat, to the living room, in hopes of catching an extra few leg lifts and sit ups. I tossed the mat next to the TV and tucked the exercise sheet underneath it for another day. Baby had awoken from her power nap and was rolling around on the floor, the preschooler was jumping from the couch to the floor, just inches from baby's giggling face. Daddy was in the kitchen making eggs and sort of watching the living room from the corner of one eye.

Later that morning, during baby's second power nap, I slipped away to the bathroom. As I stepped into the shower I heard the door open and close. Then I felt the cold, clammy shower curtain rub against my bare skin. I shrieked and yelled, "Stop!" A moment later a hand pushed the curtain toward me again. I stuck my head out to see both Andy and Caroline in the bathroom. "What?" he asked me, "I was just making sure the curtain was inside the shower and she copied me." I sighed, "Can't I get a minute to shower in peace?"

To which he answered, "A minute? You already got twenty minutes this morning on the treadmill." Ahh, silly woman, why would I assume that I could dedicate two separate times in one day just for myself?

Those precious moments have gotten me thinking about time. Twenty minutes is generally my maximum allotment for personal time on a daily basis. Yet, in a world with small children, that same amount of time can seem like an eternity. Here's a look at twenty minutes, the long and short of it.

When twenty minutes feels like 10 seconds:
A private shower;
Going to the bathroom, alone;
An uninterrupted phone call or email;
Watching TV;
Reading a book or magazine;
Shopping, alone;
A walk or run around town;
A child-free car ride, listening to loud music;
Snooze.

When twenty-minutes feels like four hours:
Tubby night that includes hair washing;
Cleaning up pee and poop from the carpet, cushions and bed;
Being on hold, waiting to speak to pediatrics at 8 am on a Monday morning;
Watching Barney;
Reading 5 stories at bedtime;
Checking out at the grocery store while one kid screams and the other crawls on the floor under the cart;
Pushing two strollers around town when kid decides she is too tired to push the umbrella stroller she insisted on taking along;
Screaming kids during a snowstorm drive;
3:30 am feedings.

I know that no matter how slow times seems to go when I'm with the kids, that it is actually flying by. On the one hand, it seems like it has been YEARS since I slept for more than 4 hours straight, and on the other it feels like just yesterday that I sat in the backseat while Andy drove me and Caroline home from the hospital. I look at Caroline and still see her big baby eyes and gummy smile. I've still got my baby belly and Charlotte is already crawling and jibber jabbering. I love to work out and I need my alone time but, these days, I'm not as upset if I miss the opportunity because a lost walk in the laundry room means more time cuddling and caring for my little girls. My kids will only be small once and my big butt will still be there, waiting to be sculpted when the time is right.

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