This morning, as I was lying in bed with my comforter pulled over me and the fan rotating slowly overhead, I felt the familiar pull of the need to get up and begin my day mixed with the desire to remain in this comfortable place.

While I was lying there, my thoughts began to reflect on the past year. On how relaxed our mornings are now and how grateful I am to be able to spend these minutes just lying and thinking and not rushing and rushing and rushing.

And I counted the months until the kids will return to school and mentally vowed to take advantage of this time. To play more games and shoot more hoops and ask more questions and take all of the snuggles I can get.

The awareness of the time we have had, and it creeping closer to an end was heavy on my mind.

And I felt so grateful for God’s protection and for His provision.

Eventually, I made my way out of bed and the morning began to unfold with its usual rhythms. Coffee was made and poured and one by one the kids made their way down the stairs for breakfast and to prepare for their day of online learning.

A little while later, I announced I was headed upstairs and would be there for a couple of minutes. (I have gotten into the habit of announcing these things.) Not even a minute after that, my son yelled up for me.

“Mom!”

“Give me a minute. I just need a minute,” I replied.

And as those words came out of my mouth, I remembered when I was in bed this morning, before everyone had made their way downstairs, and how I was so determined to take advantage of it all.

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And I thought about how I felt at that moment. How I just wanted one minute of uninterrupted time. And how opposing those feelings seemed.

Friends, this is how it is with parenting.

We don’t want to miss it. And we need our space.

We want to be present. And we just need a minute.

We recognize the gift of a full house. And we need some quiet.

We want to play and read and do things with them. And to say yes when they ask for our attention. And we just need to finish folding the laundry.

It is a dance. A back and forth.

Our desire to not miss it. And our need for just a minute.

We see the vision of the parent we want to be and how we want the day to unfold and all the ways we hope to be present with our children . . . and then reality happens.

I used to feel guilty for wanting a minute, and now I see how important it is.

For me. For them.

They need to learn the world doesn’t revolve around their every need and want and sometimes mom and dad just need a moment. And they also need to learn they are valuable and their thoughts and words matter and we want to spend time with them.

I have loved this time at home with my family. And I have needed a minute. Lots of minutes.

In fact, I literally just asked for another one right now when someone came down to ask me a question.

I will miss this time when everyone is back in school. And I will enjoy the quiet.

One does not exclude the other. These thoughts and feelings often reside right next to each other.

I have come to believe that wanting to be there for my family and recognizing when I need space is a healthy place to be.

So if you find yourself there today, dreaming of all the things you will do with your children and wanting time to yourself. If you find yourself thinking things that seem so contradictory, know you aren’t alone.

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You are a good parent.

When you want to be with your family.

And when you want a moment to yourself.

This is normal.

This is back and forth. This is the mental dance of parenting. 

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

Jennifer Thompson

Jennifer Thompson is a freelance writer, preschool art teacher and mother of four with a heart for Jesus. Her work can be found on a number of blogs and parenting publications. Recently relocated from Indianapolis to Nashville, Tennessee. She is a passionate storyteller and believes every person has an important story to tell. We grow when we share. And even more when we listen.