A Pinhole in the Pail

“I need you.”

These words make me cringe.  I think, “just love me, help me, and hug me… The End.”  – It’s all I want in a tidy little package. But NEED? From my husband? I already have five little people who need me. They need breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They need that soccer uniform washed, the lost knee pad found, the refrigerator fixed, the three dollars for lunch, the permission to walk to Frisch’s after school with friends, the discipline that follows hitting a younger brother, the birthday party RSVP’d, the homework assistance, the reading practice, the chauffeur to everything and everywhere,




And what about my own needs? I need to buy new toothbrushes for everybody; I need to wash the kitchen floor; I need to finish the book I started; I need to sleep. Oh, how I need to sleep.

So why do you have to NEED me, husband? Daggonit. Can’t you see I’m busy over here?

But that’s really the question for me to answer, isn’t it? Why am I “OVER HERE?” Why is this my go-to perspective – that it’s me against the world? It’s one of the things I’ve learned about myself: that it’s a built-in defense mechanism or survival skill to go into “survival mode.” It’s not pretty. I wear righteous anger and frustrated martyrdom like the mythological Cerberus.  Impenetrable walls lock in place with a single snap and I’m ready to go. Bring on the most complicated schedules, details, and NEEDS – I’ve got this.

But then Ann reminds me (Ann Voskamp who penned and LIVES One Thousand Gifts):

“The best use of time is to freely love.

The best way to love is to spend time.

The best time to love is always right now.”


“A pail with a pinhole loses as much as the pail pushed right over. A whole life can be lost in minutes wasted, small moments missed.”

It’s challenging enough to remember this with the 5 little people who paw me, claw me, and wrap their bear-hug-arms around me while clambering into my lap every chance they (and I) get. It’s harder yet to remember this with the 1 big person sitting across the room, trying to wait patiently for the mama to remember that she was first a friend and a wife.

So after they’re tucked into their beds, soft slow breaths…tousled hair…adorned with dancing puppies, smiling Broby, fuzzy hearts, adorable abominable snowmen, and yesterday’s soccer clothes…

I ignore the laundry basket and the overflowing sink and the strange smell coming out of the basement…

and I go sit by the one who needs me. And we don’t have stimulating conversation or figure out our finances or really do anything except sit and rest in the presence of one another. Because I need him too.

“And this, this is the only way to slow time: When I fully enter time’s swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here. I can slow the torrent by being all here. I only live the full life when I live fully in the moment. Weigh down this moment in time with attention full, and the whole of time’s river slows, slows, slows.“  ~ One Thousand Gifts


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