Ezra,  Recovering Perfectionist,  The Preschool Years,  Whitespace: one word for 2014

On #whitespace, staying home, and tomato suckers

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Right now there’s a donut party going on at the children’s museum, free swim lessons being held at the pool, parks in our town we still haven’t visited, paved greenways calling out to mock my faithful fitness goals, and a gym membership I haven’t used in weeks.

I think it’s both the benefit and the curse of living in a bigger town. Opportunity is abounding.

Instead, we are here.IMG_4193blog

We read books in bed. Well, to be more accurate, I read books while Ezra body-slammed himself into the bed over and over.

I asked him what he wanted to do today. “I want to do summer school on the porch with you.”

I turned on Daniel Tiger and sat down with the computer and a cup of coffee. I poured over activities and looked at the city parks website and even wrote down directions to a new park. But after an hour had passed, I just didn’t feel like going anywhere. The laundry situation is dire, and I would have made myself eggs if it weren’t for the no clean pots and pans problem.

So I called him up to the sunroom where we did worksheets and prewriting. He fought and whined and I taught and coaxed and it was okay.


He asked to go outside so now he’s playing in the pool, and I’m sitting on the sunporch watching him pretend play with his cars.


I have to chronically remind myself that it’s okay for him to be bored. It’s okay for him to be alone. It’s okay for him to be alone and bored.

His personality and cries for attention and activity and interaction defy that. But I know that it’s a skill that, in time, will make his life easier. It’s a burden the young only child has to bear. And I hate it for him.

But today, his wet, glistening, sun-kissed, ever-growing self seems content. He’s talking to himself and his toys and pretending and building and it’s okay.

It’s even okay for there to be a crate, t-ball stand, bat, phone cord, and buckets in a 5 foot pool, right? 


I have a garden this summer. It intimidates me. My plants are huge, and there’s weeds and vines, and it takes a lot of work and energy. So, for a while, I just ignored it. I had one good weeding session and then moved on.

I don’t recommend this approach to gardening.

The weeds aren’t so bad. It’s my tomato plants. They are taller than I am.


A few days ago I went out to gather food and realized that if I didn’t do something, they would take over my garden. It would be like the tomato apocalypse. I got out some snippers. As I got to work with the pruning, my mind drifted back to sermons about tomato suckers. Apparently, they symbolize sin. They must be snipped, nipped in the bud, or sin will take over and destroy your life.

If that doesn’t ring with tomato apocalypse, I don’t know what does…

I snipped and snipped, but realized tomato suckers are a far better illustration of why we need whitespace than why we need repentance. You see, the stuff that grows off of tomato suckers isn’t all that bad. They can even produce…*gasp* tomatoes. The only problem is that the plant has grown long, leggy, tall…with branches coming off of branches coming off of branches…until you can’t tell what’s what and the whole thing crowds itself and the other plants around it.

And so as I snipped, I thought about all of the things I have cut out of my life this year. All of the good things, fun things, exciting things that I could be doing.

Like Five Minute Friday twitter party. Excessive social media time. Reading blogs. Tot packs. Cooking. Spending more time on my blog. Working on a book. Trips to the gym.

Snip. Snip. Snip. 

My tomato plant life has been crowded. Leggy. Overextended. All of my energy has gone into branch upon branch upon branch of super-awesome, really good things. But it’s just been too much.

Snip. Snip. Snip.


Maybe I’ve snipped too much. But I hope that, much like my spirit, my tomato plans now have room to breathe, room to live.

After nearly an hour of snipping in the hot afternoon sun, I showered my garden with cool healing water – and prayed that my plants would forgive me for the violence and the assured shock to their system.


I went back inside. Made pesto and a zucchini/squash/onion/meat-tomato sauce dish. I multitasked, checking Facebook and chatting with a friend while I worked. And then I found this in my feed:

It can be hard to prune good things that are blooming. It can be hard to remember why you are pruning.

Because there’s a counter-intuitiveness to it, this plucking off certain life activities that will yield good fruit. Some might even think it foolish to pare back, when the bloom and gifting apparent; a good harvest inevitable.

Yet it’s the pruning of seemingly good leaves that can grow a better life. 

To allow later seasons to yield the longed-for abundant crop.

It takes courage to crop a life back — but it’s exactly the way to have the best crop of all.  What seems like hard work that’s taking an eternity today — is exactly what may make the most difference in eternity.

Ann Voskamp

And it was just the words I needed in that moment…in these moments. To know that saying no to the good and yes to the better; cutting out the busy and embracing the less-involved; shunning the pin-worthy and grabbing hold of the easy; avoiding the surrounded and being okay with the lonely– It is better. It is best. 


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