I would be more peaceful, more productive…..a better mother.”
It’s A Wonderful Life, the iconic Christmas movie with Jimmy Stewart, shows a desperate man’s plea to change his world. He wishes he was never born; he feels that everything would be better. A poor wish goes sour. He find that the influence that one person’s life has on others can’t be taken away.
George Bailey and I share something. We have both seen our lives without the impact of someone else’s life. In my case, it was four of them–my children’s.
I was alone. All alone. No kids for 10 days. Be jealous for about 30 seconds. Ok. That’s enough.
My oldest son was doing something that every 18-year-old young man should do. He got out of the country. My 17,12, and 9-year-old children have been at what I am affectionately calling “Mema and PopPop Key West Camp.”
Be jealous of them for 30 seconds. I’m not. The Helgemo tradition of going to the Florida Keys during the Summer has never been a “must-do” on my list. Boats, sun and scuba stay plastered on my “must-don’t” list. My children, however, LOVE fishing, diving and sunning. They realized that if they were to participate in these glorious summer exploits, I would not be with them. This didn’t faze them one bit.
For me, my mother-in-law, Maxine, and my father-in-law, Steve, it was a win-win. They got my kids in the Keys without the pukey, pale-faced whiner (me). I got time alone with my husband.
Our alone time revealed that this “wonderful life” without kids is not particularly fabulous. I work from home, in the home, and around the home — with them usually here. Everytime I picked up one of their shoes or toys, they were here, yet not HERE. All of the furniture and other items in our home are positioned based on this big family. The absence of certain items (like a coffee table) is because we have had children for the last 18 years.
Our house seemed to shut down mid-production, frozen in a moment of time. At a snail’s pace, I cleaned room after kidless room. I noticed things that I hadn’t before. One is addicted to blankets. One likes their music by the bedside. Another prefers it across the room. I found writings of all sorts: notes, song lyrics and old test papers. All of which provided evidence of them, but was not THEM.
I realized that my world without them would not be careless and frivolous, but rather lonely and silent. Children influence our lives by their very presence. They enhance our existence by existing through us, then with us.
Christ’s existence is also extended through us, even though we only see His shadow. By being present in the Word we read, the community we join and the Eucharist we receive, His life lives. (Matthew 26:28, 18:20)
Do you feel blessed to be alone sometimes?
How does alone time change your perspective on mothering?
What are some ways in which we influence the world by having children?