Following last week’s arctic blast, we lost our internet service for several days. It was incredibly inconvenient, particularly for my husband who needed to work from home for a couple days, and necessitated the reordering of the school day, as well. Despite these annoyances, it was an amazingly productive time.

I’m well aware that the computer is a great big “time eater.” Time is such a precious commodity, and no one knows this better than a busy mom who is continually trying to squeeze an extra hour or two into every day. Whenever all is quiet, I make a quick break for it…off to post, twitter, surf, research, download…you name it. In 20 minutes or less…

I live in a house with nine people and one working computer. PC time is hard to come by, but if this blog serves as evidence, I certainly manage to find the time to boot someone off for a minute or two!

So…back to Friday.

The computer was down. The boys were playing a game and the little girls were engaged in feminine sabotage, doing everything they could to annoy their brothers…dancing, singing, knocking things over, you name it they did it. In frustration, I sent them upstairs to play with their dolls and the boys went back to quiet play.

Which left mom with some free time! Ah…what to do? I thought about knitting…naw…too much of that lately. Crochet? Yes…I really wanted to explore that option further. Writing? Maybe…Word still works, and I have a file full of ideas…

But then it hit me. What if…what if…I decided to make the children my recreation? I play with my children all the time. I teach them. I hug and tickle them. I enjoy their presence…but our together time is just a matter of fact. We. Are. Together. Always.

Thus, I’m frequently seeking ways to “recreate” myself. But this Friday was different. I decided that for the rest of the day my recreation would be the children! It was an epiphany of sorts and I hastily made my way to the kitchen to prepare a “gift of time…”

I decided to give the little girls a tea party. Fancy plates and cups, finger sandwiches, cookies and fruit. The real deal. Not because they had earned it…in fact they had done everything that day but earn it! I began brewing the tea when Gareth asked what I was doing. When I told him, his eyes lit up. He and Galahad quickly began straightening the table cloth, carrying in the special tea set and laying the table. Gareth even lit candles. When Arthur observed the flurry of activity, he ran into my room, pulled two of the girls prettiest dresses from the closet, snagged a hair brush and ran upstairs to tell the girls to change quickly, brush their hair and bring their dollies.

A few moments later, Gareth lead them down the stairs. Squeals of delight. And such ladylike behavior at the table! They lingered over tea, both Charlotte and Emily speaking in affected whispers about the “lovely sandwiches” and the “delightful tea…”

A few photos (8yo Gareth took the bottom three…he’s getting quite good!):

It was too cute…

But cuter by far were the boys. These guys had been harassed and tormented by these little girls. And then helped served them tea. Giving of themselves and their time…and it would never have happened if I’d spent those twenty minutes writing. Or knitting. Or crocheting…

The fellas ended up having a manly snack of hot tea and peanut butter sandwiches…no tea parties for these guys!

The rest of the afternoon continued in the same spirit. We assembled a paper nativity, in anticipation of Candlemas…it’s quite unique, with heavy cardstock characters, including Simeon and Anna.

Now some might say…don’t you always do these kind of things with your children? Well…yes. And no. I do them, but not always in the same spirit. This was a bit different.   I took time that was mine, and gave it to them.  How happy I would be if only I lived my vocation in the same spirit!  Recreation is essential, to keep together mind, body and soul…but it was a lovely day, giving those times to them by choice rather than necessity.

God grant me the wisdom to always give the gift of time, graciously…