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What Do You Do with Fifteen "Free Minutes?"

The other night I was waiting for dinner to finish cooking and realized I had fifteen unspoken-for minutes to do with as I chose.

Too often I’d have settled down in the La-Z-Boy and browsed Facebook without guilt; an oven timer would have soon gone off and forced me off my seat and to the dinner table. I stood there at the brink of those nine hundred seconds ticking away, surveying my other options: I could have straightened out the disaster zone that is my laundry room. I could have cleared the clutter from the home school table. I could have run the food scraps up to the chickens. I could have Tweeted. Or Pinned. Made an overdue phone call. Paid the dentist bill. Sat down and started a blog post.

Instead, I seized an opportunity that had  been there for years, every evening, too often wasted and lost to social networking and other relatively meaningless activities. I grabbed my teenage baby girl and plopped her on the piano bench in front of an open music book. I picked up something I haven’t touched in months. Maybe years, or so it seems. My guitar.

We played together.

Then we added our voices. Hers, smooth and harmonious… how did I not know she could sing like that? We sounded beautiful together. She made my airy voice rich. I had to stop and ask her to remind my fingertips how to form some chords. Teacher asking former student for help.

Later that evening I caught her voice on the wind. She was closing up the barn, and a Celtic melody haunted the hillside behind our house. My daughter. I wanted to catch that voice, that song, and hold it captive long after she’s gone in but two fleeting years or less.

I have written for far too long about motherhood, and missed some time being a mother. Those fifteen precious minutes encapsulated sixteen precious years I’ll never get back.

Today I’m taking my second born–the fifteen-year-old– to play tennis. When the breeze blows the ball over the fence and we laugh in the warmth of this new April sun, I won’t be wishing I was here at home finally emptying those laundry baskets or clearing the winter array of sleds and soggy mittens from the yard.

I’ll be wishing I had done this more often.

What about you? What would you do with fifteen “free minutes?”


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