Stopping to smell…life

Slowing down enough to live moment to moment isn’t something that comes naturally for me.  I don’t think it’s probably something that’s easy for most people in American culture actually.  We are busy and tired a good part of the time.  Every month or so I look at our whole family calendar and continually try to adjust and change it as needed so that we aren’t crazy busy and so that free time is built in where we need it.  Somehow every time I do this, one more thing has crept onto the radar.  And likewise other things have fallen off the radar like our goal of dates once a month for us or individual, intentional time with each kid every month.

Keeping things balanced, the fun and the less-than-fun, school work and play work, running and resting, is a constant challenge.  It’s 10:00 at night and I’d love to snuggle and watch a movie with the husband that I don’t see much during the week.  But it’s 10:00 and I’ve been on my game cleaning, teaching, cooking, helping and directing since 7 AM.   And sleep often wins these days because I am just so darn tired.

It would be fun to have play dates every day of the week, but then sadly we’d never manage to get any school work done.  So we try to keep that to once a week as we’re still doing major catch up on school.

It’s last Friday night and no dinner is planned.  The fridge is empty and we’re overdue for a Costco trip.  I gear up to go alone with the kids but Chris finishes work early and we meet there.  We have hot dogs and pizza and split up the grocery list.  Does this count for our date for the month?  I think not.  Somehow the basic necessities are always shoving out things that are actually hugely important but somehow get pushed off the list too easily.

Last night Chris unexpectedly made it home in time to take kids to soccer.  So I grabbed the stroller and took Audrey for a long, brisk walk.  As I sped down the street trying to get my tired heartrate up enough to count it exercise I made lists in my head, fed my general sense of “you aren’t getting much right in life at the moment you know?”.

Then I saw them.

They were purple and huge and billowing out over the sidewalk ahead of me.

I slowed down as I approached them.  I shoved my face into the blooms and tears came.

The very sight and smell of them instantly took me back 11 years.  The week before our wedding when, to save money, I was to cut and deliver all the lilacs that would be incorporated into all the flowers for the wedding.  Only when I went to my grandma’s house to get them, her’s had bloomed too early and were all falling to the ground.  In a slight panic we drove to Costco to purchase some there but the power was out and they had closed early.  In a bit more panic then we drove around Kirkland until we found a beautiful home with a whole yard full of lilacs in every color just blooming.  My friend Shauna and I knocked on the door and politely shared the story and asked if there was any way we could cut some of their lilacs.  They were so sweet and said yes.  Crisis averted.

So lilacs are hand in hand with love to me.  They were everywhere on my wedding day.  Perfect and lovely day that it was, it felt like a dream way too good to be true.

While I stood in front of a strangers yard last night, my mental lists all disappeared.  My heart rate slowed quickly to non-exercise level.  And it turned all warm inside as my mind traveled back to sweet days of courting and the afternoon we said “I do”.  As I smelled bloom after bloom I was so struck by how much I need it.  I need to remember.  I need to slow down.  I need to savor the moments.

I won’t get this back later when I’m less tired, have more energy and more free time.  These life shaping, life draining years with small children will pass.  It’s up to me to take the moments that come and pass them by or choose to slow down and welcome them.  Easy to say, hard to do I know.

But I’m going to try…



That is very sweet. I didn’t realize lilacs were so special to you! I didn’t even know they existed until I was about 18 and I’ve loved them since.


They are irrrevocably tied to my memory of that day too. I just cut some hanging over my fence from the neighbor and remembered that day as the fragrance filled our living room.