Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Gatekeeper

For the first three years of my oldest child's life, we lived in South Carolina in a little 1940's red brick house that we were, of course, renovating on the weekends. Those were mostly simple days. Our house was across the street from a small school and behind the small school was a large learning garden maintained by the teachers and students. There was a beautiful eucalyptus tree that grew in the middle of the garden. From time to time I'd step over there in the late afternoon where I'd clip little sprigs to fill our vases. I loved the fragrance of those branches in our little brick house... it was the fragrance of simplicity.

Last week I inherited an arrangement of white roses leftover from the wedding of a girl I've only met twice. Passed along through a chain of sweet friends, the vase of blooms and greenery and eucalyptus landed on my dining room table. And when the roses wilted I plucked the sprigs of eucalyptus from the vase and laid them across our copper bowl to dry. Seeing them and smelling them took me back to our quieter, simpler days in South Carolina.

In thinking of simple days gone by, I remembered something that my dear friend Emily said in passing a few years ago as we chatted about kids and calendars and activities. I doubt she remembers her words or even the conversation, it was, after all, just chit-chat on an ordinary day but her comment sank deep within me. She said, "When it comes to my family's activities and how busy we are... ultimately, I'm the one who is the gatekeeper."

As my children get older it's becoming easier and easier to fill up our days... going here, going there, friends, and activities. These aren't bad things, they're blessings and I'm so thankful for a full and vibrant life, but balance is important. These days, especially these summer days, I'm realizing that I must be intentional about keeping the gate. My children {and I} need space and time for moving slowly, for quiet moments, for watching Sister's squash grow in a green Dixie cup, for reading, for laughing at the cat, for late morning Cheerios, for chores, for floating, for bike rides, for catching tadpoles, for playing, for noticing, for loving, and for enjoying the eucalyptus in the copper bowl.