Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Once Upon a Time...

...there lived a mama who wanted to be alone.

Not all the time. Not even some of the time. Just for a couple of minutes one evening.

She finished feeding her family, then cleaned the kitchen with her husband while the children read books in the living room. She laid out ingredients to make cookies later, and prepared a snack of apples and peanut butter for the seven-year-old who is always hungry. A princess in a tutu begged Daddy for a dance, and when he dried off his hands, they began their waltz.

Mama looked around.

Little Man sleeping for a few more minutes. Children snacking, dancing and reading. Butter softening for cookies, can't make them now. Hmmmm...

And she slipped down the stairs for a few minutes of *alone*.

She got thirty seconds.

Husband finished his waltz and came downstairs to send an email, chatting lovingly with his wife who tried to seem interested and smile as she read an article. While he folded some towels, he mentioned the mess the boys had left in the bathroom after their bathtub escapades with their action figures. She sighed and stood, thinking that while she cleaned the bathroom, she would at least be alone. [At this point, Mama should have called her boys to clean up their own mess, but she was feeling particularly martyr-like this evening...]

She got ten seconds.

The boys hollered that the girl needed to go potty, so Mama dropped sopping towels in the washer and headed up the stairs, grumbling internally the whole way. I don't know what I was thinking. Five, maybe ten minutes alone? Ha!

She took sweet girl to the bathroom, then sank to the floor in the hallway, head resting on her knees. Little Man squawked from the bedroom; her window was gone. What happened? I never even used to need alone time. What if I wanted to read a book? Or learn a foreign language? It would have to be in the middle of the night, 'cause if I can't even have a moment to tidy a bathroom or read an article, how will I ever add anything else to my day?

And she cried soft, dramatic tears of self-pity.

Bewildered husband helped her to her feet and held her close. She scooped Little Man into her arms and kicked ballet slippers and stripped-off clothes into the hallway that a little girl had left in Mama's bedroom. Boys quietly cleaned up the new mess and put it away, without being asked. Daughter pulled on Mama's pocket and asked for a bedtime story. Little Man buried his head in her shoulder, hugging in his own baby-sweet way.

And the mama knew.

She didn't want to be alone. Not anymore.

'Cause she didn't want to miss a single minute of this.

Besides, while she held Little Man in her lap and read the bedtime story upside down so little girl could see the pictures, the writing looked like Russian.

That counts as a foreign language, doesn't it?

The End

39 fellow travelers shared:

Mercy said...

How beautiful! I can tell you that when we were finally "alone", when we dropped each of our girls at college and said goodbye that first time, we cried all the way home. It has taken nine years and 4 degrees to finally enjoy our alone time. Ah, but we still miss them!

Bekki said...

I LURVE YOU.

I am a little sad that we won't have girl time in the morning. :o( I hope you still get to take Little Man away for a bit since Thursday a.m.s are yours.

I wanna see your blurb books.

Katie Eagy said...

So true. This was good insight for a weary mama who often yearns for some alone time as well! The alone time isn't nearly as good as the gift of time with my kids! I love your writing.

Joy said...

It's funny...this story sounds awfully familiar. Were you peeking in over here? Thank you for your lovely way with words- they were the cyber-hug I definitely needed today!

And man, those little man hugs. I miss them already. David took his first steps today...

laura said...

thank you sweet friend. i needed the reminder, as husband is away for the week- and alone is quite lonely, but togetherness is so very together... yes, upside down is a foreign language- as is toddler speak, newborn baby cry, and husband-engineer talk. and much more useful than Russian!

Debbie in CA : ) said...

How sweet!

I have more time to myself these days as baby #5 just turned 10! It has flown fast, those days of weepy overwhelm. I treasure the memory of so much "little" business but savor the time I now linger with the "littles-grown-bigger" over a cup of tea and a heart-to-heart -- I will never have "free" time to waste as my loves will always need me. As you so joyfully noted . . . it's right where I want to be. : D

I love your little spot on the blog and I come to visit you often, though I rarely leave a footprint or comment as I swish in on a gentle breeze and leave with a smile.

I pray for you . . .

Longoria said...

Feeling you my friend, oh so feeling you! We must not feel guilty for longing for those alone moments, instead we should pray that they, in their briefness, fill us up ten fold to sustain us until the next gift of solitude. And, that we might find contentment in those snatches rather than longing for more of them. This is a season friend, I have to remind myself of this all the time. Some day, I will have too much alone time and will be missing my babies! My heart knows yours sister, hug to you!

Stacey said...

how very sweet. and very, very true. the alone moments i once craved are ones i wish would disappear. enjoy not being alone. for one day, all too soon, you will and you will ache with loneliness.

randi said...

I know from years of experience that giving of ourselves to our families is something we will never regret. I treasure the times I have had with my girls and the new relationships we are building. Keep seeking God's strength--He WILL get you through each day.

~nanashouse~ said...

Oh yes, that sweet blessed tiredness that would be no where else. The smell of young ones, the rhythm of a house adjusting to a new life. Some day you will miss this chaos and wonder where time has gone :-)

Cindi said...

You are such a talented writer. I must go in the agreement that alone time comes all too soon and then it is bitter sweet. You can learn a foreign language, well besides Upside-downsy when you're 64.

Holly said...

This sounds exactly like me at my house. Thanks for sharing this-it was beautiful. Holly

Anna said...

Dear Elise,

I think that you write so eloquently for all of us mothers of young children! I have cried those same tears that you did in your hallway. Mothering is such self-sacrifice, but I'm glad for it. I know that I would still be much more selfish today if it weren't for my 3 little ones.

I agree with another poster (Longoria) about asking God to fill us up in the brief moments that we get. I find myself leaning on Him more now than ever.

Praying that He is with you today. :)

~Anna

P.S. I like the part about the upside-down letters - ha ha!

lyn said...

While I feel it, I never seem to have your insight or be able to put it into words so sweetly. Usually I grumble. You are softening me. Thank you my friend.

And know you are surrounded by love!

Rebekah said...

Beautiful story of life! Thank you for sharing with us!

Andrea said...

I know a lot of women can relate to your story and frustration. =) It's a delicate balance, isn't it?
I am praying that you find that balance, for being alone and being with your precious family are both two very important things. love to you, andrea

Sandy said...

It seems like I've read that story somewhere before...oh, right, at my house. ;)

Kimberly said...

so glad this is somewhat of a universal occurrence amongst us Mommas of young children. I feel so selfish when I want alone time. In the evenings when my dh comes to talk with me, I wish I didn't have to say anymore words. I am grateful he wants to spend time with me but I crave time ALONE, no words uttered. I know this is a precious season and I will be wishing they were around to talk to soon enough.:) Thank you!

Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

Yes.
Exactly.

This wondrous whirl we mammas live in... and in Him, this all-encompassing circle with no end, we find the silence and the quiet in the circus. And spin happily on.

You write beautifully, Elise-- words reflecting lovely heart.

I send so much love,
Ann

Sandi (aka Mrs. M) said...

Wow, Elise, you described my day yesterday. I don't want to miss a minute but yet....just a moment :o)
It truly is finding the peace in the midst of all the on going unending conversation, noise, playing, reading, eating.....

Tracy said...

Ironically, I wrote about just this last night as I was pulled from that sweet place between wake and sleep by the call of a child. I'm going to link to your post, it speaks so clearly to the sanctifying work the Lord is doing in my own heart.

Kate said...

I know EXACTLY how you feel!!! One thing that has helped our family (especially me) is a mandatory 30 min-1hour "off-duty" time in the evenings when my husband gets home. I make dinner earlier in the day and have it warming in the oven when he gets home. He plays with the kids for an hour while I take some time off. Since we don't have a lot of money, I can't really go anywhere, so I usually spend that time in the bath with the door shut and locked! It makes SUCH a difference. Not only am I getting a much-needed break, but my family is blessed because I am rejuevenated just in time for dinner and bedtime routines. Oh, and my husband is blessed because my legs are always nicely shaved!!! Taking a little time for yourself isn't always selfish.

Erin said...

Thank you for sharing stories like this - so beautifully written. They inspire us all to slow down & appreciate the moments that will all too soon be gone & all the free time in the world won't replace these precious moments.

Erin

Shonni said...

I loved this...as mamas we all can understand and relate...and the ending was so cute...just the laugh I needed today. As I write, my 7 year old is kissing my arm as I type (makes typing a little harder), saying MMMMMM. So either he is hungry, or he really loves me. I'm going with the later - ha-ha.

Andrea said...

Ok all I can think of now is your post of long ago, " I just want to poop in peace" LOL!!!!!!!!!!

Jennie said...

Hi Elise,

New here. That was wonderfully expressed. Thanks for sharing from your heart.

Jennie

The Small Scribbler said...

Oh, Elise.

I nodded in sympathy through the whole post. It is HARD to be needed so continuously. And I laughed and laughed at the end (with my 14 year old asking "What? What?" even though it is ONE in the morning.) Don't know if the alone part ever kicks in, but after awhile, you'll find you just don't need it so much.

Shaz said...

Thank you for this post. I am struggling with this as I juggle a six week old baby plus the other 4 all under 8 and hubby away with work for 2 weeks at a time. Where is the me time? I want it and yet ...

Love the blog will be back to visit again.

Shelley said...

Well said.

My oldest is a 21 year old man now. He lives here yet he's often gone, at work, with friends...I miss him. In my dresser last week I found a coupon he made for me when he was probably seven. In it I was promised one hour of quiet time. I took it and showed it to him. He said, I guess I finally am giving you that. We smiled and hugged. Too fast they grow, too fast.

jenny said...

I wanted *alone* time last night, so I went to the grocery store to buy milk. My radiator hose burst while I was inside, so I was stuck at the grocery store for nearly an hour while a stranger fixed my car in the freezing cold. Not quite what I had in mind, but is it ever? I realized then that I would have rather been nestled in my warm home with my sweet family. :)

Laura said...

Elise,
I pray I'd remember that I don't want to miss any of *this* either.
Your Gideon is just precious-and Eliana has grown so much! Thank you for stopping by, your kind words, and prayers.

Karen said...

Thanks for sharing this, for reminding me. I've sent it on to many friends :)

Karly said...

I have thought of you many times lately, remembering your posts, like this one, where you talk about treasuring the time. I am storing these times deep in my heart. I'm not so good at documenting them... but I already know I will remember just enough. There are some things I just can't capture...
May God grant you exactly what you need, when you need it, and keep filling you up. Just keep your eyes, ears and heart open like those little ones that surround you everyday.
I miss you.

Britney said...

You always have such a way with words; Bekki says it all the time, too! : ) Your words were wonderful and inspiring and most of all encouraging. I always feel guilty when I want time alone because I am home all day "alone" with 2 babies...how do you explain the need to be completely alone to a husband and 2 little girls under 2 years old?

BTW, Bekki told me to give you my e-mail address (kell513@msn.com) in case you want me to send you the link to my blog - I think I've left a couple different messages for you and she says you cannot see my blog since it's private...don't want to be a crazy-psycho blog stalker - just really like to see your thoughts on motherhood! : )

Anyway, thanks for your words. If you don't mind, I would like to post a link to this blog post for some of my mommy friends to see; I know they, too, would benefit/identify from your words of encouragement.

Katrina said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful...
I LOVED reading this.

I don't want to miss a single moment either.

Thanks for sharing these heartfelt thoughts.

Katrina

Beverly said...

Elise, were you spying on the hidden corners of my heart? I've felt these same things - just recently. I couldn't have articulated them as you have, so thank you. I will be returning to read this again.

Stephanie said...

I love how the Lord has used you to speak to so many hearts! I have come back several times to heed these sweet reminders and truths. Bless you, sister.

C~ said...

"martyr-like" how often do i think this way?...

j.mcpeak said...

We don't personally know each other but I was introduced to your blog by Amy Redelsperger. My husband and I have been married for almost 4 years and our son is 15 months old. Your blog is such an inspiration. I have read this particular post about once a week as it is such a gentle yet real reminder for me to be grateful for what I have been blessed with and that God never gives us more than we can handle. I praise God for you and your amazing heart and spirit. Thank you for ministering to so many you don't even know.

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