Things and Space and Time and Hope

Remember how we live in a relatively small apartment? And we have three kids? And we are ever accumulating more and more things? And ever and ever trying to get rid of things we no longer need? (And if you didn’t remember, now you know.)

It truly is a constant battle. And it’s not just a battle with space or with mess. Often it’s just as much a battle with time and with hope.

Today we went through our toy box. We try to limit our toy acquisitions so that they fit into the box. This doesn’t always work, of course. The box of TRIO blocks, for example, lives on the bottom shelf of the bookcase, except for every day when Little Miss spills it onto the floor. And the car garage lives on the boys’ dresser and gathers dust. But mostly, the toys fit in the toy box. And if they don’t, then we need to get rid of things. So we did that today. Lots of cheap little toys lost their place in the box. We edited our ball collection, which seemed to have somehow reproduced in the dark confines of the toy box. And we said good-bye to a few of the stuffed toys that had little or no sentimental value.

In the process, however, we realized that we had a lot of blocks that haven’t seen the light of day for a long time. A lot of them. Actually, nearly half our toys are wooden blocks. And I wondered: why do we have these? They’re taking up space and when was the last time the kids got them out . . . ? Maybe I should just get rid of them. But I couldn’t and I didn’t. And I didn’t for the same reason that I have shelves of cookbooks that I don’t have the time to make things out of and clothes saved away that I just can’t wear right now: because I have hope that things will someday be different.

Right now, the kids are interested in different things. Or they don’t have the attention span to build the creations of their dreams. Right now, dinner needs to be fast and familiar so the cookbooks stay on the shelves. Right now, it’s 40 degrees outside so my summer skirts and shorts have been packed away to make room for the sweaters and jeans.

I’ve read in many places that we should get rid of “stuff” that we don’t need. If you haven’t used it in however long, toss it. If you haven’t worn it, give it away. And I do believe in keeping things neat and orderly and uncluttered. But, as silly as it sounds, I kind of think that having things around that I can’t use is good for me. It reminds me that now – this crazy busy time full of toddler tantrums and brotherly fights and rushed bedtimes – is just now. It’s not forever. And someday it will be warm, and someday I’ll be able to spend time and money making fancy dinner that my children will actually eat, and someday we’ll have a whole room just for our toys in which our kids can build entire cities out of wooden blocks.

Maybe.

It’s something to hope for.

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