Once upon a weekend, a stay-at-home mom was given an extraordinary gift. It was given to her by her loving husband and two small children. So rare was this gift that she didn’t quite know what to do with it. She definitely didn’t feel deserving of a gift of this magnitude, but then she realized that grace was indeed undeserved goodness. So stunning was this gift that she actually felt guilty for receiving it. But she knew that this gift was also immensely needed and, in the end, she accepted it with outstretched arms and wide-open hands, eyes enormous with wonder. What was this gift, then? It was the gift of fifty uninterrupted hours. She was given the blessing of being completely alone in her home, for the first time since she got married more than eight years ago and had children. Actually, for the first time ever.
As mentioned, she didn’t quite know what to do with this gift of fifty uninterrupted hours. After weighing all her options, she decided that the point of being alone was, well, to be alone. And that she was. She didn’t even stick her nose out any door, front or back. She spent her hours writing, reading, eating, sleeping and making things. She found it quite astonishing, the amount of things she was able to actually complete in those hours. So much freedom was to be found in the fact that nothing and no one needed her and that she didn’t need to rush anywhere. She also had the opportunity to look around her house in silence and solitude and really appreciate what it had to offer her. She hasn’t been able to do this in a long time. For years, all she saw was the clutter and the shortcomings. She realized that she absolutely loved where she lived.
Then, she had to admit to herself that what other people thought of her worried her too much. Oh what a fundamental crisis, what other people must think of a wife and mother who don’t go away for a weekend with her husband and children! She had to laugh at herself when she realized that this outweighed her realistic need for mental and spiritual care. How this had more say than her need to be alone from time to time. For she was an introvert and time spent in solitude was as crucial as air and food and water. At what point did she deem it acceptable to not wish this for herself? Really contemplating this, she realized how ridiculous it was. For she knew who she was, she also knew who she was for her husband and children, she knew how much she loved and cared for them and nurtured them. She also knew the burdens she carried every second of every day and the agonising guilt over every single little thing that she allowed to take a hold of her for so many years. Would fifty hours away from them change who she was for them? Honestly, when she thought about it, the answer was a definite ‘no’. Who she was for them and the love she carried for them were enough.
With this gift she also had the opportunity to practice the art of stepping aside. Of letting go and letting God. Oh, what an incredible art this was! One that was very difficult to master for a mother who thought that everything that had to do with her children was dependent on her. How excruciating this was for a mother who thought that she was the only one who could take care of her children. That not even her husband was capable! Goodness, what a lie this was! This was an art that she had to force herself to practice since she became a mother. With every stepping aside she chose to do, the suffocating spirit of control and manipulation she so easily exercised over her husband, kids and circumstances lost its power. By mastering this art, her husband and children could experience the freedom to just be themselves and all that entailed. This she wished for them with all her heart.
She also realized that she loved her own company from time to time. In the stillness, she could hear her voice and that of her Father clearly. Having stood against all the everyday things and two strong-willed children, her voice lost the desire to compete. By nature, she was not someone who wanted to compete or shout to be noticed. She realized that she became a stranger to herself and was pleasantly surprised that there were things about herself she actually cherished. She missed these things. She needed to become her own best friend. She realized the importance of being strangers and missing someone, even if it was just for a little while. For it granted her the grace to think, look and hear anew. She realized that, as much as she loved not feeling needed by anyone of anything for fifty uninterrupted hours, she actually welcomed the gift of being needed by her husband and children. She realized how tainted she has allowed this gift to become, as if it’s a burden! She realized that she could be alone, but, for the most part, didn’t want to be. She needed her husband and children also. Once she realized anew that marriage and children were a gift she chose to welcome into her life more than eight and six years ago respectively, she decided that she had to continue to choose this gift every day.
All this and more she thought about in fifty uninterrupted hours. She realized that luxury for her meant uninterrupted solitude and silence. When she defined this for herself, she could understand why she experienced marriage and motherhood as enormous challenges. Nonetheless, challenges she was willing to take on without thinking twice. Having realized what she missed most since becoming a mother and a wife, she could appreciate it more. She could allow herself to truly mourn the loss of this and allow herself some balance in this regard. In stillness and solitude, she could see, she could hear, she could understand. She realized that she needed to stop comparing herself to those who find the joy in the midst of it all. She needed to step aside to realize these things. It was who she was and that was okay.
And she realized that this gift was by far the best therapy she has ever had. All because of her husband’s and children’s beautiful hearts. She loved how they became a little strange in those fifty hours and how she wanted to get to know them again. After fifty uninterrupted hours, she welcomed them back as the extraordinary gift they truly were, with outstretched arms and wide-open hands, eyes enormous with wonder. Oh, how blessed she was!