Kristina Beers: Time alone gives mom a refreshed outlook

By Kristina Beers

Special to the Pioneer

My kids and my husband were gone on a week-long camp excursion that began on a Sunday. I happily waved them off and set about to clean the house knowing once I did, I would have no interruptions and no one to clean up after once I had it the way I wanted it. I was very excited.

I did laundry, I scrubbed the floors, I vacuumed, I cleaned the bathrooms and, since I was in such a good mood, I got after the oven too … after all, I wasn’t really going to be in need of it for the foreseeable future. So, that lasted a whole two hours. I have my routine when I clean and after 23 years of being a housewife, apparently my pattern is down pat. I suppose one gets that way after the necessity of rushing through a chore between children’s messes and interruptions.

Now that I was done with everything I dreamed about doing for a long time, I wondered, “Now what? Why, I can do anything I want!!” So I proceeded to do just that; and I read, I relaxed, I relished in the silence. I had popcorn for dinner and crawled into my bed knowing I wasn’t going to need to get into a blanket war that night. It was lovely.

The entire next day, I didn’t speak. I had no need to! It wasn’t until the phone rang in the evening and, after answering it, realized how raspy my voice was from non-use. I was participating in a beautiful silent retreat all on my own. I didn’t turn on the TV, the radio, or any videos. I coveted silence like a precious jewel since it was so rare in my life.

One of my dear friends, whom I was able to visit as lengthily as I desired, commented on my freedom. She asked how long it had been since I was without the family at home for such a period of time. As I pondered, I realized quite likely it was the first, barring my faulty memory. We’ve had kids come and go, quiet times and times alone, but to my recollection, none for a full week with just myself at home. I have been away from the family for longer, but not conducting my normal routine in my own home.

By day three, I decided to drag out the photo box. The boys always make fun of me when I wax nostalgic, pulling out photos for them to see. “Look at this one! Aww, you were so cute” or, more likely “Hey! Look, see? This is proof that you two brothers actually DID like each other!” Since I had no one to show, I waded in deep memories for several hours. Some of my favorites I took pictures with my phone to share later, particularly the cute toddler years of the boys.

When my family finally descended upon the clean but-not-for-long house the following Sunday, I happily welcomed them with refreshed arms and countenance. It was such a treat to have the house quiet, but I did send a message to my husband about halfway through saying something about how it was nice to get a break from wifely duties, but I sure did miss him. How quickly the time went, though, and the laundry room was piled high once again and food was rapidly disappearing in the refrigerator after only a few hours.

At one point, relaxed, happy mom returned to the stern, crazy mom they all knew and (hopefully) loved. I got after our 16-year-old and while he did as asked, he made sure his body language said he wasn’t happy about it. I walked into the living room to find him still sitting, seething with discord with his arms folded across his chest and a particular way he holds his head when he’s upset. My mind immediately flashed back to the evening of nostalgia when I remembered that very pose in his 3-year-old body. I turned back out of the room smiling from ear to ear, heart swelling with love for that boy.

I then did what any mother worth her weight in salt would do: I retrieved that picture, took a photo of sourpuss on the couch and put both in front of his face: “Look at yourself, Ralph. (Our family fun name when kids are upset and mom or dad aren’t) You haven’t changed a bit. I dare you to not laugh,” came out of my mouth while my eyes were full of mirth. He tipped his head up toward me and broke into a grand grin.

So often we get caught up in the moment of drama and parenting that we fail to find the joy and love inside of each moment. We also run the risk of forgetting a simple but vital piece: Our kids have their own personality from the get-go and it’s up to us to hone it into strength of character. If I hadn’t recalled that piece from memory lane, I could have tragically missed a chance to see he was just being himself and I needed to reach into my skill box to help him deal with his emotions rather than suppress them. I’m so glad I had the chance to do just that.

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

Leave a Reply