Tuesday, June 18, 2013

on Alone

Being alone is such a strange phenomenon.  There was a time in my life when being alone made me sad, made me lonely.  At this point in my life, being alone centers and focuses me.  I remember when I was married, before children I was working at a Music school as the music librarian, and as a Teaching Assistant in the preschool.  I worked the mornings in the preschool, then went to the library to organize the music.  The playground is outside where the library was, and I would watch the children play as I worked.  At that point, I longed to be outside, where the children were.  As I considered my future and a path for a career, I decided that I would work toward becoming a preschool classroom teacher.  I wanted to be with people, with children.  Something about being with others brings me alive. 

Then, I got pregnant.  YAY!  I never pursued becoming a classroom teacher, being a mom fills that gap these days. However.  I need time alone.  Being a mother has taught me that as much as I love being with my family, I cherish those evening moments when they are fast asleep in bed, and those daytime moments when they are all at school.  When my children are near me, I am constantly on call for them. When they are away, I can think long thoughts like I used to.  I am allowed to daydream and be myself, not just mommy.  I love living in community of any sort, because being in community is what keeps me from being lonely.

After considering for a long time, I've decided that the first community anyone is a part of is the family.  Most people don't think of it as such, but it really is.  Children learn how to function with other people, deal with leaders (parents), and peers (siblings).  That's one of the reasons I find it important that I have more than one child in my family, so they can work together for things.  The reason I love Judasim the most is it's focus on family as community.  Faith doesn't only work at a place of worship, it functions in the house.  The Shabbat table is a table where God is honored, talked about, and blessed.  Passover happens in the home.  These rituals developed so that families can build the community of faith in their homes.

Once a person has lived in community like a family, he or she takes that role, that personality, and the skills learned in the family, and applies it wherever he goes.  So when a child goes to school in preschool or kindergarten, strong family values follow him into the classroom.  School, workplace, and places of worship are secondary communities to the family.  I think we miss that sometimes when we think about community.  People talk about family and then community, but family is community, and it is the job of the parents to lead and direct that community.  You can see how effective family communities can be when children follow in their parents' footsteps in family business, or to live nearby.

Imgine a world without family.  Children are birthed and put in schools as soon as they are born, caregivers would be professional parents.  Aren't there scifi books like this?  Brave New World? I don't remember.  The idea of mother and father would be nonexistent.  Something about humans draws us together to live in family communities.

I like living in a family community.  I longed for it very much my college years.  Now, I snag my peace as I can, but living in family is what my soul needs.  What of those who do not have a small home community to call their own?  I suppose that's when you draw upon the next layer of community - neighborhood, school, place of worship, extended family - to fill the gap.  I think we all need a delicate balance of being alone and being with others.  As much as I'm an introvert and need time to regroup by myself, I know I need a balance of being alone and being with others.  And babies count as people!  It is a miracle to use the bathroom uninterrupted!

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