protection detail

Much of my energy in a day is spent protecting people from THE RUSH. I get up early, plan ahead, am intentional about conversations and length of minilessons and taking advantage of moments throughout the day in order to make space to breathe. At home I build in buffers so people can finish the thing they’re doing (building train tracks, reading a book, drawing a picture) before they have to move on to the next (dinner, bath, books, bed). I try not to look or sound harried on the outside (even when I’m feeling it on the inside).

I’m not as successful at this protection detail as I would like.

Life sneaks in the cracks and if I’m not careful it takes over. I used to think it was about saying no (and no and no and no), but I’m beginning to realize this protection detail is more about a state of mind than minimizing commitments (although that is some of it). The fact of the matter is life is full. Between work and church and three little lives (who are involved in things too) and an exchange student and writing and connecting with high school kids and, and and…life bulges.

Last night, though, the detail was successful. There was time to play. Train tracks built by a little boy in a fireman helmet and a little girl in a princess dress. Kids wrapped in blankets reading books. Andy had time to watch both hockey and baseball. Homecoooked dinner — on the table around 5:30 along with all six of us — was relaxed and we had time to linger in conversation and dessert. Andy and Karianne went to visit his dad in the fields, because you can’t live in Indiana and not ride in a combine. The kids and I snuggled together for books — they each had their choice and it didn’t have to be a “short one.” I rubbed their backs at bedtime. I went for a lengthy walk. There was time for an actual conversation between Karianne, Andy, and me. We talked about nothing, and yet, it felt so important.

Times like this make me believe this protection detail is not an impossible task. And like other protection details, it makes the difference between living and not.

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  1. Your life is so full, I am amazed how it all flows together when you share a slice from it. I like the concept of “protection detail,” an interesting phrase but totally appropriate. I'm glad you had such a lovely evening, all the stars and planets were aligned for you. I hope you have many more.

  2. Sounds like last night was a successful evening that you'll cherish for a long time.

    BTW: I have no idea what a combine is. Gotta Google that.

  3. What a thought-filled time, and the fact that you were intentional seemed to work, although as you said, sometimes it doesn't. I like that you have a term for it, protection, and believe women the world over do this for their families and loved ones–build a home, ensure that things go well, i.e., protect.

  4. This is a great post! I really liked this line, “Life sneaks in the cracks and if I'm not careful it takes over.” I can totally understand and connect to that. I also agree with how you said that life is so full. I'm still so impressed with how you do manage to do it all and blog! You are an inspiration! 🙂

    –Jee Young

  5. You have your heart into what's important and that makes all the difference. Glad you're having good times during this beautiful weather.

  6. “I'm beginning to realize this protection detail is more about a state of mind than minimizing commitments” This line articulates what I can't realize and re-realize often enough! This year, with the new superintendent's “new view” in my district, teachers are having to be stress buffers for our students more than ever. Protection Detail (in all aspects of life) is a noble role that you made sound ever more noble.

    I am always amazed, not just by how full your life is, but that you take the time to stop and soak in how fulfilling all that fullness is.

  7. Ruth, this is a beautiful piece. I heard your voice in it; I heard mine too. I often feel like my life is shaped by the intentional breathing spaces I create for family and colleagues, but then sometimes I feel squeezed. HOW AWESOME WHEN IT ALL COMES TOGETHER EXACTLY AS PLANNED. What a great evening; altogether fabulous. Wishing you many more!