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White Space

Originally posted September 6, 2018, I was reminded of this word recently. My children, overloaded with commitment, were showing signs of burnout, fatigue, and anger. Always good to remember to take a step back...


The summer days bleed into the night; the sun setting late; the sun’s heat baking after it’s gone, like cookies continuing to bake on a sheet after being drawn from the oven.

The summer days are beautifully free of obligation; creativity has the opportunity to flourish. With whom will we have a play date today? Where will we go? Sometimes nowhere, and they (the children) have all the time to play the animal game, Harry Potter, color pictures printed from the computer, or build Legos. The planning brain doesn’t kick on until at least mid-August, and that’s only because when I can see the start date for co-op classes in my calendar in a month-view, my heart feels the anxiety of unpreparedness. Oh, but the freedom and the playing and the creativity. Will these plans break that up? Will my plans uproot their plans? They only get to be kids once. They only get to have eighteen summers. And for a couple, half of those eighteen are gone. I only get so much time with them. (Sometimes though, the time. Moves. So. Slow.) But now the summer is over and that number of summers has decreased by one. Five left for my big. Seven left for my next-big who is nearly the big’s twin. Nine for my boy. He might need a couple extra to build character. Eleven for the one just like me. And thirteen delicious summers more with my baby. How, as I’m planning for a new season, one that is so necessary, can I keep the parts of summer that I like? Make school and life free of the drill sergeant. Entice them with learning rather than command. Take the parts of summer that give me peace and rest and let the “to-do” list be a “done” list instead. I think it’s got something to do with white space. Keep lots of white space. Give them time. Give myself time to sit on the back porch or stare out a window while sipping coffee. They only get eighteen years. Why would I steal that from them?

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