Baby is finally napping and the older boy is peacefully engaged in an educational activity... (ahem, he's actually watching cartoons so intensely his eyes water because he has forgotten to blink).
A few moments to yourself.
The crucial question: What to do first?
The spot under the baby's chair at the kitchen table is a mess of dried porridge and smushed carrot, from first breakfast, then lunch.
The finished load of washing has been sitting in the machine so long you're going to have to wash it all over again to get that damp clothes smell out of it.
The dirty dishes pile is slowly taking over all the counter space, and there's a smell emanating from the fridge that you've been meaning to investigate now for days.
And there's more.
There's the to-do list in preparation for your return to work.
Numbers to call for pre-schools, creches, childminders.
There are those baby swimming classes you meant to call about; the car needs a service to check that weird noise that you hoped would go away, but instead is getting defiantly louder; there are the baby thank you cards you should post before Baby turns toddler.
There's dinner to be prepared. You're doing baby-led weaning so it has to be baby-friendly. It also has to be toddler-friendly ("No Mommy'. I don't want SAUCE. Uuugh. DISGUSTING").
It also has to be vegetarian occasionally, because you know, the planet, and the animals.
You are still in your pyjamas and dressing gown.
You need a shower. But you can't have one because you dare not use the en-suite for fear of waking the sleeping baby in your bedroom.
And the other things.
The 'me time' things. The yoga and the sleeping and the writing and the meditating and the cups of tea.
Overload. Your brain on baby. WHICH DO I CHOOSE?
Maybe today he'll sleep for more than half an hour and I'll get to do two things. So WHICH TWO THINGS? And WHICH FIRST?
You know this drill right?
The baby naps.
I wish his brother would.
I need this time, need him to sleep to so I can have a moment. Surely I deserve that. I have so many things to do.
Why can't I just have some space to do it? Surely I'm entitled to that? A few minutes peace?
I play a Winnie the Pooh audio book for him (thank you YouTube). A few minutes peace.
I consider my mind. My thoughts scramble over each other trying to get out.
I look to discharge my duties, empty my to-do lists so I can become calm, focused.
Focused on what? Me here now? My few minutes.
Maybe it's not about deserving it though? What if I'm not entitled to it? What if this is the practice? To breathe, to accept. Not to demand.
I stop myself on the way to the sink, pull my arm back from picking up the toys, let the fruit sit on the floor.
I stop. Hit pause. A few minutes to myself; breathing space. So I breathe.
What could I do now that would in no way feel like wasted time? What are the things I never regret doing during naptime?
Not the dishes nor the washing.
I drag the beanbag over to the back door, open the door to the garden. The sun streaming in, surprisingly warm for February.
I sit. I breathe.
For 10 minutes I concentrate. I meditate. In my pyjamas, I sit in the sunshine.
Inhale. Exhale. Breathe away the to-do lists and the 'I shoulds'.
There is sun, there is light. There are green shoots of life peeking through the earth in my flowerpots, daffodils getting ready to stand, yellow-soldier like around the edges of our muddy lawn.
There are birds, spring-song.
I empty my mind and become calm, focused. I write. I write away my annoyances and the housework and the phone calls.
My boy wanders over.
What are you writing Mommy?
I'm writing away my worries.
I'm writing myself back into the moment. This moment. I hug my boy. I embrace this time. I notice the dirt on the window and decide not to clean it. I slowly, deliberately make a cup of tea, begin to prepare dinner.
I hug my boy. The baby wakes. I take a moment before we bound up the stairs together, to get him.
Half an hour hard fought. Half an hour well spent.