Give it 20 Minutes

Give it 20 Minutes

I have just returned from a two-week vacation and I feel like a new person. So much so, that I can’t think of a single inferior mother moment – or maybe it’s the jet lag since I can’t remember much about anything or maybe, just maybe, I’m becoming a better parent.

To be safe I asked my kids what they thought was a recent bad mom moment. My 11-year-old was quick to list all of my past mistakes but I told him that those didn’t count. When I made him narrow it down to the last few weeks he had nothing. Nothing!

I thought that my oldest would have at least a handful of incidences but he too was a stumped…

For a beat.

“Well, it’s not really a fair question,” he said. “We’ve been on vacation with Grandma and Yiayia (Grandmother in Greek) and you’re never really mean in front of them.” He paused. “Give it 20 minutes,” he added. And both of my boys laughed.

Now, normally that kind of sass would make me mad – just because. But not today. No, today I laughed too. It must be the new not Inferior me.

As I went about making dinner I politely asked my 15-year-old to please start his summer reading (“It’s only 300 pages, Mom, and I have 6 days!”)

From behind me I heard my youngest mutter, “I give it 10 minutes.”

Yes, normally, I would be demanding that he start reading THIS INSTANT and if he didn’t start right away I would begin listing all of the things that I would eventually take away from him (but never do) and he would dig in his heels and refuse and I would stomp off angry and he would read but get nothing out of it.

Not today! Today, he read 30 pages, which he annotated, and he even brought up the motif that is emerging in the book. I could be on to something – not yelling seems to work!

About 10 minutes later my husband walked up behind me as I was sending an email and started to comment on what I was writing. For the record – I hate, hate, hate that. I hate having someone looking over my shoulder while I’m writing, reading, breathing. Clearly it’s a holdover from my childhood and I should probably see someone about it, but today after my initial, “Do you mind?” And, “You know how much I hate that,” as I felt myself gearing up to spew the laundry list of times that I have asked him not to do that I stopped.  I just didn’t have it in me. I simply turned away.

In the midst of this I hear my oldest son in the other room say to his little brother: “Here it comes.”

So now they’re gunning for me. They are convinced, even with all evidence to the contrary, that I am not a new person. In case you are wondering, I wasn’t at an ashram, I wasn’t hanging with the Dalai Lama or cultivating inner peace, I was just on a long overseas vacation with my family, my mother-in-law and my mom (just writing that sentence is making me wonder why I’m not more crazed but something about it worked).

Hours pass and still no eruption, but now it’s bedtime—a true test of my strength. Bedtime has been a little unpredictable as of late. Between summer activities, summer camp and vacation there has been very little structure in our home but with school right around the corner I think that sleep before 11:00 pm is in order.

And so the whining begins. First my youngest starts with the “I’m not tired” excuse, then it’s the “I haven’t had my dessert yet,” line, followed by the always popular “Actually, I don’t want dessert I’m just really hungry.” And on it goes for a good five minutes.

“GET TO BED!” I finally scream. “NOW!” And that was followed by a long, drawn out mommy rant about he never listens and if he doesn’t get to sleep then I can’t get to sleep, and school is coming and his sleep has been so disrupted and on and on and on.

When I finally come up for air and look up at my family they’re smiling. “I told you I could make her crack,” my youngest proclaims as he bounds up the stairs. I almost expect them to exchange money – as if the three of them were taking bets about how long it would take for me to lose it.

But I showed them. “Give it 20 minutes?” Ha! It took hours.

Originally printed on

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