Priorities or Preserves.

“Oh these children, these children!
The restless eager boys and girls whom we love more than our lives!
Shall we devote our time and strength to that which perishes while the rich garden of our child’s soul lies neglected,
with foul weeds choking out all worthy and beautiful growths? Fleeting indeed, O mother, are the days of childhood,
and speckless windows, snowy linen, the consciousness that everything about the house is faultlessly bright and clean
will be poor comfort in that day wherein we shall discover
that our poor boy’s feet have chosen the path that shall take him out of the way to all eternity.”

-Author Unknown




On a quiet summer morning, while the trees whispered promises outside my kitchen and  my little one napped, my pink kitchen knife sliced through the ripe peaches without hesitation … the bruises coming away from the juicy fruit without frustration. It was quiet in my kitchen. The older girls were invited to spend an afternoon making memories with their grandma and I was left with the littlest one with grand plans to can up the bushel of fresh picked peaches, which were ripening quickly on my dining room table.


The canning pot was filled to the brim with hot water, the kettle was boiling, canning jars were washed and lined up, ready to be filled …  a sermon was readied on my ipad to listen to while the work was to be done … it was to be a morning of great accomplishment. Canning peaches for the winter.

Nap time came and I took advantage of the quiet and set to work as quickly as possible, washing, pitting, slicing up the sweet fruit and preparing the syrup on the stovetop …


… but just as the first batch of preservese emerged from the water bath, my plans were quickly altered when my little one’s morning nap was not as long as anticipated. My little girl  woke up, bright eyed and full of wonder and excitement of an afternoon alone with mama. She had crackers to eat, milk to drink, grass to waddle through and swings to enjoy … Canning peaches was certainly not in her agenda.

And so, as I rescued her from her nursery crib, she wrapped her little legs around my waist and held on tight, I knew the peaches could – and should –  wait.  What harm could be done in stopping? Yes, the jars needed to be warmed again, the peaches might bruise, the syrup cool yet how in this world, many times does a parent push aside their child for work that can wait? Do we have our priorities skewed? Let’s check that facebook one more time, a job that you could have said no to, a volunteer position that someone else would fill …  And then we wonder and question why our children won’t talk to us or confide in us when trouble comes their way or why they choose to be with their friends over their family… so, the kitchen was abandoned, the Lord told me to put my plans put on hold, for a few hours with my youngest daughter – alone in the quiet of our favorite peaceful backyard…

…sitting in the August-warm sunshine, listening to the song birds, hanging laundry together, walking barefoot … we spent a simple afternoon quietly together. Sitting together with sliced peaches, she toddled along, happy to be grabbing fistfuls of delicious bites of peaches, wasting very little of the delightful feast … eating lunch just the two of us … yes, canning those peaches could wait. There was something more important in front of me.

After all, what would it matter if I was able to can bushels and bushes of lovely fruit, putting up food for the winter and yet I had no time to nurture the relationships with my children? What good is a house that is kept perfectly clean at the expense of a family’s happiness? {Please, understand – we all do chores around the house. I do love a tidy home, but not to the point where no one feels like it is liveable.} and even though I dream of having a flower garden as beautiful as my 75-year-old neighbour’s garden, do I not feel more happiness when I look out and see four little girls tramping through the ‘woods’ (what would have been my beautiful garden … ) and pretending they are sisters lost in the Great Big Woods … ?

A little bend in my plans now may benefit the mother-daughter relationship in years to come.


Yes, I would rather my canning shelves stayed empty and filled with cobwebs than be so busy that I miss this stage of motherhood.






My little Leia, all tired out from her fresh air, did sleep well that afternoon and I was, gratefully, able to can up the rest of the lot of peaches waiting patiently for me in the kitchen. Now we had a new jam to use for our impromptu tea parties.



August 22, 2013 - 7:54 am

Jenn I’m interested in canning. When is the best time of the year to can? What are the initial costs for canning? I really enjoyed this post! Your littlest is Absolutely adorable!

August 19, 2013 - 6:11 pm

Tara C Once again, I absolutely love reading your blog! I wish that we lived closer so that we could have tea. I really wish that I could do canning too!!