A blank white square

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The other day I looked at our family calendar and saw nothing but a blank white square. It scared the heck out of me.

Colorful

We are a colorful family — literally. We have red and green and blue on our calendar. We have times, places, addresses and notes like “take cupcakes; pay electric; and new shoes.”

We have obligations, commitments and work, play, games and fun. We are on the go most all of the time. Then, one day, we were not.

Work? No. Meetings? No? Party? No. Game, practice, or training? How did that happen? We never have a plain white square.

There was an entire Saturday that was just a blank space on the calendar. Insert semi-panic.

You wouldn’t normally think of white as such a threatening color but there it was: looming.

What we had here was a failure to plan … anything.

Clearly, anyone who flummoxed by the idea of downtime clearly needs some. I don’t know how to “stay home.”

I love home and am somewhat a homebody during the day but I like having somewhere to be in the evening and on weekends. Some days that’s the only reason I change out of my pajamas.

I admit that I am a “To Do” Junkie. There is something enthralling about a list we can tick off to mark our passage through a day.

There is a deep satisfaction in “getting it all done.” I think it is part of the parenting parcel to face the day like a personal triathlon.

To get everyone fitted and fed and enriched in a variety of ways, then arrive home exhausted but fulfilled, ready to face another day. To be faced with a day full of nothing to do was daunting.

Off

As it turns out, I am a much better slacker than I thought. I spent the beginning of the day marveling at how much day I had ahead of me. All that time and nothing to do!

Why, I could organize a closet, clean the basement, scrapbook the past ten years of our lives, and catch up on my reading. I thought I also might bake some bread from scratch (never tried that!).

What I actually did was check my email (Delete. Delete. Delete). I logged onto Facebook and “liked” some photos of cute cats saying implausible things. Then I cruised over to eBay to see if I could score a deal on, well, just about anything whether I need it or not.

Amazon was good for some free digital book downloads (I don’t so much “read” books as collect them these days).

The next thing I knew I looked up and it was noon. Fortunately, fate intervened in the form of my darling youngest child who wandered through the room and asked, “Whatcha doing mom?”

To this I said, “Nothing. Want to join me?”

So we looked at some cute cats on Facebook (again), watched a few hilarious videos on YouTube (that Elmo is such a stitch!) and then, and this is the best part, we shut the lid on the laptop. We logged off. Yes, really.

We stared at each other. Nothing to do and nowhere to be? What do we do now?

“I got a new game for Christmas!” she said, and scampered off to get it.

We spent the next few hours playing an uproarious game of “Hedbandz.” Picture me wearing a photo of a rhino on my head. That’s all you really need to know to understand how ridiculous — and hilarious — that game is.

Our giggles attracted the men of the house who soon joined us in the fun. We also baked cookies (but never got around to bread).

At day’s end we had laughed, we had lounged, and we had realized the awesome power of a blank white square.

The basement wasn’t any clearer, but my mind certainly was.

It’s great to be busy. To go. To see. To do. It’s also a blessing to sit back, relax, and breathe once in a while.

To appreciate the free time — and family — while you have it. None of us know how many days we will eventually receive. Let’s make a conscious decision to take the time to write on our “blanks” with meaningful moments, every single day.

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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