Sunday, July 22, 2007

Solitude

This is a world full of busy-ness. Demands on our time and attention fill our days. Even as a stay-at-home mother, perhaps even more so than others, there is very little time when I am quiet and at peace. Someone is always needing something. Whether it's my child needing help with math, or the neighbor wanting to chat (and chat and chat...), my husband calling from work with a request, or the television demanding my attention by its constant siren call, the end result is that my mind doesn't often get the chance to be still and reflect upon the deeper things of life. Many of my days go by in a blur and I can't often pinpoint what I have accomplished, even though I know that the work of mothering is one of the highest callings.

And yet, solitude is, for me at least, a strongly felt need. When I have not had the opportunity to spend some time alone, my attitude changes. I become short-tempered. I can feel myself walking, no, stomping on eggshells. This is not to say that I don't truly love my family and am grateful for all the time we have together. As a homeschooling mom, my children are generally with me 24/7. That, to me, is one of the blessings of homeschooling. You see, I truly enjoy spending time with my kids. Oh, sure, we have our days when we all get on each other's nerves, but for the most part, we enjoy each other's company.

I've been reading a wonderful book by Anne Morrow Lindbergh called Gift From the Sea. It is a book of reflections on the life of a woman - all women, really. One of the first chapters addresses this very issue. While women are instinctively givers, somehow the constant little bits of giving (like Chinese water torture!) of ourselves drains us more than performing larger acts of service. Running children around from place to place, unending piles of laundry, the endless cycle of preparing meals and cleaning up after meals - it all leaves us exhausted and with very little to show for our efforts. This is where solitude comes in.

"The solution for me, surely, is neither in total renunciation of the world, nor in total acceptance of it. I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return. In my periods of retreat, perhaps I can learn something to carry back into my worldly life." Anne Morrow Lindbergh, A Gift from the Sea

I think this is the key - a rhythm, as Mrs. Lindbergh puts it. Finding, no, making the time for solitude is crucial in the life of all women, I would say. I am blessed that my husband understands this and often provides me with these opportunities to be alone. But if you are not in the same situation, you will have to make this happen for you. Whether it be scraping up enough money to pay a babysitter for a few hours a month, or planning some quiet time after the children are in bed, I encourage you to make the time. It will renew your soul and recharge your batteries. It will strengthen you at your very core, making you more able to meet the needs of your family.

2 comments:

Dana said...

Well put. And that is what I'm doing now...while the kids are in bed.

It is nice in the afternoon, too. While the two younger ones take a nap, I send the two older ones outside and just read or crochet or something. It is quiet time. Be a kid outside, or sit quietly inside. Up to them, but the house is quiet a little every day.

Anonymous said...

I have found that I try to be purposeful in the "noise" I let into my life if I am so lucky to be home alone. I don't turn on the t.v. unless I know in advance there is something specific I want to watch that is worth my time. I used to listen to the radio a lot and now I find that I very rarely turn it on. Just the opportunity for some quiet is a blessing.
Melissa

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