Five More Minutes

“Five more minutes.”

This is my older son’s habitual plea as my husband and I deposit him in bed each night, entreating us to stay with him as he falls asleep. New to the world of “big boy” novelties—a toddler bed and Lightning McQueen underwear chief among them—this request is one of the few remaining traces of his fast-disappearing babyhood. To be honest, I sometimes resent the request. As a stay at home mom, I am seldom without my children. The rare moments when they’re both asleep are sacred; I observe them with devout reverence, steadfastly avoiding any commitments that will eat into my precious alone time.

While sitting on the floor of my son’s room running out the clock on our five-minute agreement, I am more often plotting my next move than soaking up those last moments of the day with my child. I envision myself ten minutes from now, curled up on the couch with a remote in one hand and a glass of Cab in the other, zoning out to something mindless while no one demands my attention.

Most times, my daydreams are less indulgent, slightly more practical: I picture myself folding the pile of laundry waiting for me in the bathroom or scraping the remains of tonight’s taco dinner off the skillet in the sink. I have so many things I could be doing rather than sitting beside my son’s bed while he wriggles and squirms, the thought of my imminent departure rendering him unable to sleep. Still, I know the days of him requesting these last five minutes with us are quickly coming to an end and soon they will stop entirely, to be replaced by much different pleas.

At age six, he will beg me for five more minutes to stay outside with his friend from next door. They don’t always get along but tonight they’re playing nicely together; yesterday’s hurt feelings at the bus stop all but forgotten. Now in elementary school, he is cooped up indoors for most of the day, with a short break for recess his only time logged outside. Though he’ll have spelling words still to review and reading time to log, I’ll let it slide, knowing how quickly his childhood is passing both of us by.

At age eleven, he and I will do battle every morning over his sullen requests to sleep five more minutes. I will remind him that the last time he slept five more minutes, he missed the bus and that missing the bus today is not an option unless he wants to hitchhike to school. Part of me will look forward to the day when he can drive himself instead of using me as a taxi service; the other part will be devastated that this one last vestige of dependence on me will soon be a thing of the past.

Out with his girlfriend at age seventeen, he will text to beg for five more minutes at her house, despite the fact that he’s already late for curfew. He’ll tell me that the movie is just ending and he can’t leave now, but promises he’ll be home as soon as it’s over. I won’t buy a word of it since it’s rare they actually watch the movies at our house, always jumping apart when I enter the room like I don’t know they were interlocked like LEGOs seconds before. Still, I like her a lot and I remember my husband and I as lovesick teenagers fighting for just five more minutes together. “Finish the movie,” I’ll text back. “But your ass better be in this house by 11.”

And then not so long after, he will go off to college and no longer have to ask me for anything, except to keep the washing machine empty when he comes home the following weekend. I’ll fill my days with other things—work and errands and the other kids’ packed schedules—but my phone will never be far, on the off-chance he calls to talk during the five-minute walk back to his dorm.

_WMP9698N1Many years later, my son and his family will visit for the weekend, filling our house with the indulgent sounds and smells of children that I so often long for again. Their presence in our house will fill up the rooms and flood the common spaces until we’re drowning in the opulence of their youth. I will delight in the way my granddaughter’s head tilts to the side when she’s concentrating, exactly like her father’s used to do; I’ll see my own long eyelashes framing my grandson’s brown eyes and remember how I used to stare at the curve of his father’s lashes for whole minutes, relishing the phenomenon of shared genetics.

“I think we’ve gotta hit the road,” my son will say, looking at his wife for confirmation. “If Jack falls asleep in the car, he’ll be impossible to put to bed later. And Sophie has a school project she left until the last minute.”

I’ll know it’s time for them to leave and get back to their lives, but it will still feel impossibly hard to say goodbye. As he’s rounding up the kids’ things from where they’ve been tossed and strewn all over the house, I’ll get the overwhelming feeling of needing them not to go just yet.

“Stay just a little bit longer? I’ll ask my son; a plea I can’t help but make.

“OK mom,” he’ll tell me indulgently. “Five more minutes.”

And even if he’s just humoring me while counting down the seconds until he can get back to the rest of his life, those five minutes will give me more comfort than he could possibly know. 

Photos in this post taken by Whittney Myers Photography, 2015. 

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Melissa Mowry

Melissa Mowry is a stay at home mom to 3 year old Chase and the slightly younger guy, Sam. She is the main voice behind One Mother to Another, which she started in July 2014 as a way to connect with other moms who felt just as lonely as she did some days. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Adam, and they live in their home state of Rhode Island. Melissa's work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode, Coffee + Crumbs and Mamapedia, among others. Her book, One Mother to Another: This Is Just Between Us is for sale on Amazon.
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12 Responses to Five More Minutes

  1. Brianna April 14, 2016 at 9:17 pm #

    Heart wrenching! What a beautiful post! This has definitely given me something to think about.

  2. Sarah Clouser April 14, 2016 at 10:07 pm #

    Wow! You got me with this one …This really resonates with me as I just wrote on a similar theme in my blog this week. My boy is five and king of bedtime drama. I struggle every night. I desperately need for him to go to bed and give me some time without kids hanging off of me, but I also realize that he is not going to be requesting extra snuggles that much longer. Beautiful essay!

  3. Maddie April 14, 2016 at 10:14 pm #

    this was beautiful, friend. As always, you have a way with words.

  4. Shirley M April 15, 2016 at 7:51 am #

    Beautiful! My son is now 26 and has recently moved out to live with his girlfriend as he pursues a degree in physical therapy. Yes, the 5-more-minutes request remains. As a toddler it was for falling asleep. As he got a little longer, it was to share his fears, questions and emotional moments while it was dark. Fast forward and it was for finishing a video game, research, etc. Enjoy these special, though sometimes frustrating, moments. Happy Mother’s Day💐💖

  5. Gretchen Kellaway April 15, 2016 at 9:00 am #

    Well, that made me cry! Maybe I am a super emotional mommy as of late. Maybe I begging for the five more minutes already, quite often . Maybe the 10 year old wanting to be at other people’s houses, or the fact that my oldest is nearly 13… or is it that the 7 year old seems to be feeling my sadness over those two and is holding my hand a little longer, saying Mommy a little more often than usual.. and the baby, he is almost grown and as the last every time he does something new I feel it more? I don’t know. But that was so beautiful Melissa! So beautiful and sweet, and I cried.

  6. Sabah April 18, 2016 at 3:59 am #

    I have small kids. But this nearly chocked me! Soooooo true.

  7. Mamoona April 18, 2016 at 5:18 am #

    Beautifully written! Voice of all mothers.

  8. Tayyaba Khan April 18, 2016 at 6:48 pm #

    Thats Beaytiful. It made me cry. This so me. i am always complaining my husband how the kids keep me busy how i dont have time for myself but this made me think that how time flies

  9. Colleen April 19, 2016 at 1:33 pm #

    Oh this made this (relatively) new mama’s heart cry a little today. I so needed it. Thank you!

  10. paula April 19, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

    O, now I am crying

  11. Jennifer April 20, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

    This is just beautiful.

    I’m feeling this as my babies are 13 and 9. I’m already begging them for 5 more minutes.

    Just 5 more minutes of chatting with my 13 yo daughter before she pops in the ear buds.

    Just 5 more minutes of snuggling my 9 yo son on my lap because he already really doesn’t fit on my lap anymore. And I’m amazed that he’s still willing to climb up there and I know that any day now, he won’t be.

    I’m regretting the days when they were babies and toddlers that I was anxious for them to hurry up and get older so that they would be a little more independent. But, such is life. We never fully appreciate what we have until we get a taste of what life is like without it.

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