Monday, June 9, 2014

The benefits of a less scheduled life: the opportunities abound

Spent the weekend in Cincinnati with my brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephews.

Celebrated Aunt Heather's birthday with the best cake in the whole world!  Thanks Costco!

Aunt Heather taught Caleb some sweet dance moves to be used at the next middle school dance.  My dance partner was baby Parker!

Cousin love!

Saturday afternoon, we hit the steamy zoo.

Aunt Heather gave Caleb some practice and tips on starting a summer dog walking business.

All smiles before church camp drop off.

Chris is a softie for his niece Caroline.

Cooper purchases flowers for our friend.

This spring our schedule was packed.  There were so many downsides to our overloaded life: a frazzled mom, exhausted children, dinners eaten in the minivan, (therefore) a trashed minivan, and so on and so forth.

We vowed to end the insanity and strove to have a summer with pockets filled with nothing.  Sure, we signed up for camps and lessons, but our days and weeks would have blank holes to be filled by ....well, that's the beauty: to be determined in the moment.

And so our summer has gone.

Today, with little on the calendar, I stumbled upon another benefit of under scheduling.

This afternoon, we visited our son's tutor.  She conducts her sessions in her sleepy retirement village home.  The boys certainly look out of place among her blue-haired neighbors, but they adore those visits.  Ruby greets them with a smile and the warmth of an affectionate grandmother.

Today, we were met with the same smile and exchanged our regular pleasantries.  But then I complimented a family photo on the wall; Ruby's face fell and tears cascaded down her cheeks.  It was the three year anniversary of her husband's death, she cried.  Forty-seven years together, she weeped.  I feel like half of me is missing, she bawled.

I pulled her into an embrace, but felt like my arms provided little comfort for the heaviness of the day.

She insisted the tutor session continue and I left Collin in her care.  Cooper and I walked out of her house a little numb.  We conspired to provide a loving gesture and so we raced to the grocery store to purchase a bouquet of flowers and a yummy sweet.

Thirty minutes later, we returned.  Cooper handed her the flowers and the sweet.  Ruby unleashed a fresh round of tears.  I pulled up a chair at the table and we sat and talked, played a game, fiddled with the piano, and sucked on peppermints.  She cried and smiled and cried some more.

We stayed there until dinner and then I left when my boys were ready.

Later, I thought how glad I was that I had the time to sit, just sit, with Ruby.  What if we needed to race off to a basketball practice?  Or a swim lesson prevented our time together?  Or we had a soccer game in the afternoon?  The gift of unscheduled time is that it provides the ability to be present for those impromptu needs that pop up during the course of a day or a week.  An afternoon can be spent with a neighbor whose mother was just diagnosed with breast cancer.  The time is there to whip up a meal for a family with health issues.  A lengthy, uninterrupted phone call can be conducted with a weepy friend struggling with martial issues.

And to make it sweeter, my children get to experience that same gift.  They can give, listen, and serve without the hinderance of a packed schedule.

Today I was grateful for an afternoon of nothing that was filled with something more wonderful then I could have planned.  

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