Time Spent. Time Given.

christmas creek

Time heals.

It’s a term often used in relation to grief. I mentioned as such in my post about mothering motherless. Time spent, heals.

Looking at the other side of the fence: Time given heals too.

I’m talking about cracks.

You know those fine cracks that appear in family life, and personally too? The ones that start so small, you hardly notice them?  And you just keep going, hoping they will close?  But the ground is dry.  And when there is not much rain, the cracks grow.

I recognise such cracks now, while they are still quite small.  I’ve learned the value of taking the time to water the ground when it’s dry.  But it’s not always easy, because life goes on, and often the same pressures are still there too.  Something has to give. And often, that something, is time.

Time given.  Time wasted even, in the right places.

Our family experienced some blows in the last 3 months — tough, tough stuff for people very close to us — and along with the regular frantic pace of modern family life, we keenly feel the strain.  There’s emotional grief to carry, and the consequences of that, plus family time — always a premium — there was a point where it was almost non-existent!

The cracks manifest in many ways: fatigue, irritability, behavioural issues, bickering between the kids (more than usual), and I can tell you: family life is not very fun and I don’t feel like a fun mum.  It all feels like hard work when things are tough. This took me back to a post I wrote in early 2012 called Bumps, and I was reminded to pause and regroup.

But it costs something.  It always costs something.

I realised the other day, that I hadn’t read the children a bedtime story in a long time.  That sweet something I value so much! The thought made me very sad.  I wondered when I stopped…and I couldn’t remember, which is even worse. Instead bedtime was all, rush-rush-teeth-teeth-bed-bed so I could just drop. Stop.  I do love (love!) the post bed-time quiet (I long for it!) but for story time to cease?  When things are hard, cracks form and something has to give, but it’s important to make sure it’s the right something. With this realisation came the truth to give time rather than spend it.

I guess there comes a point where you can see there’s a choice amongst the blur.  There is always choice. And I choose time. To give time.  Because time heals.

Time given in the right areas.  Family time, the kids, my husband — yes! — but I gave time to something else too. I spent a week, right before Christmas, going through my entire house to get rid of stuff. Stuff, stuff, stuff; things we don’t need. Stuff weighing us down. I think my trip to India was a catalyst to this task I’ve meant to do for a long time. Believe it: I got rid of over 8 cubit metres of stuff from our house! I went through every drawer; every cupboard. Oh, it felt good! I was exhausted, but it felt good.  It was time well…given.   Because sometimes you need to get into the bowels of the issue and work your way out.  Because sometimes you need to get rid of stuff that weighs you down, so to see and enjoy important things.

And then, in the recent weeks, my husband and I made extra effort to give time…even if we didn’t feel like it. Particularly time with our children and creating…making time as a family.  It’s so easy to fall into the trap of being 6 individual people who live in a house, instead of a family sharing life together.

Sunsets and bush walks; frolicking in a stream. I sat with my daughter and played ‘campfire friends’ with sticks and flowers. My husband washed the car with my son and I smiled when he came inside with specks of dirt all over his face.  Time: time to notice small joys like my daughter’s kiss curl; a dimpled smile; the colours in my children’s eyes.

christmas creek

Time given does heal like soft rain on dry ground. I knew it the moment I found my husband dancing to music with my daughter in the living room.

dancing in the living room The cracks are still there. I can still see them. But they are smaller now, shrinking for now.

There’s always a lesson for me to learn; always a brick to build on.  This time it’s the subtle shift in focus: from from waiting until it passes — time spent; to choosing to invest — time given.

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  • Reply
    Renee Veldman
    January 7, 2013 at 5:26 am

    You always give so generously of your time to readers too, and we appreciate it 🙂 Though there is also so much great content on this site to still go through if you ever need to take a break. We took a family walk in the forest today which was just lovely and I thought of you and that it’s something you and your family would have enjoyed!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Another beautiful, heartfelt post Kell! We’ve enjoyed getting back to story time during these holidays. I get so focused on the “bedtime march” when all the kids want to do is “skip”. This includes stories, songs, lying with our heads pressed together & conversing with God about our day. It’ always comforting to know that our family isn’t alone in trying to get the bedtime-pace right! Xx

  • Reply
    Helen Harch
    January 7, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Thank you Kelly. As usual you speak wisely and from the heart and believe you me you and your family are not alone. Take all the time you need. xx

  • Reply
    January 7, 2013 at 11:19 am

    A lovely true post Kelly. Time is so precious and can be so rewarding when we prioritize it. I also get caught up in the task things of life from the bedtime routine of teeth cleaning and hair brushing to daily jobs that must be done and unintentionally allowing those cracks to grow, these certainly will steal time. While function and task must continue for family life to flourish your post is such a great reminder to get back to the magic that creates the precious memories that I will keep in my heart and my kids will remember for a lifetime, the times we just were really together. Thank you for this post. xx

  • Reply
    January 7, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    This is a really beautiful post. Time gone is something we can never get back, which is why we need to make the most of the time we are given. thanks for sharing

  • Reply
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