Filling the Space

Filling the Space

© Robyn R. Smith, 2016

Years ago, my growing, homeschooling family of five moved from an 1,100 sq. ft. home to one that, including the basement, was three times that size. Despite the cramped conditions of our old house, we had LOTS of extra space in the new home, with nothing to occupy it.

We talked about furniture and uses for each room. Visions of pool tables and mini ball-pits flashed through our heads. We would even have one whole wing of the house dedicated to homeschooling, and a breakfast nook for crafts; no more cleaning up books and projects every time we wanted to eat!

As we considered the best uses for all that space, I shared our thoughts with another home-educating friend. She, too, had moved from a smaller home to a much larger one a few years earlier. She offered this advice:

“Don’t be in a hurry to fill the space.”

She suggested taking our time and observing how we naturally gravitate to different spaces for different tasks. Besides, the less “stuff” we owned, the less we were “owned” by our stuff.

I took her advice to heart.

Following my friend’s suggestion, we found our open, unfinished basement a great roller skating space in the middle of winter, and a cool play space in the heat of summer. Eventually, we added a carpet remnant, couch, beanbag chairs, and TV for our kids-become-teenagers’ “hang-out” space. I even ran a short-term gift basket business in one section.

We never did get the pool table, and we didn’t really mind.

The upstairs fluctuated between office space, guest room, and separate bedroom. The formal living room did indeed become a home-school classroom, and the back screened-in porch, left to its own evolution, eventually became my summertime sanctuary.

Ultimately the space did fill up and, as we were warned, we felt the strain of being “owned” by too much stuff – a lesson I’m still trying to learn. Nevertheless, it took time to do so, and our space was filled with many happy memories and activities.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with my wise friend. We discussed our grown and growing children and our future plans. Her youngest was about to graduate. She was mentally in transition already, considering what to do with all the time previously filled with homeschooling and child rearing. Lots of thoughts were going through her head: ministry ideas, classes she could take, organizations she could participate in, travelling she might do, even potential employment. As she talked, a smile began to escape my lips.

“My friend, years ago, a dear friend offered me a piece of wisdom that served me well for many years. I now offer it back to her.” I paused, looking her in the eye, with a twinkle in mine.

“Don’t be in a hurry to fill the space. Wait patiently and see what you naturally gravitate to. Eventually it will fill itself, but take your time.”

I hugged her and concluded with, “It was good advice then, and I believe it is just as valuable now.”

She couldn’t help but smile – and agree.

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