I Want to Be Alone

Greta Garbo

“I vaaant to be alone,” is a famous line that Swedish Hollywood starlet, Greta Garbo, said in the 1932 film, Grand Hotel. In reality – and as she clarified later – she actually said “I want to be let alone.” That makes a big difference, for I doubt anyone would actually prefer to be alone without human contact whatsoever.

Being “let” alone is something I treasure (although the grammar nazi in me would use the phrase “left alone”). I often recall how difficult it was to find alone time when I was raising small children. Standing in the shower for more than three minutes or finding time to read often resulted in this famous quote floating around my head. But I also reminded myself that these precious moments with my children would go by in a flash, and I would recall another quote: “This, too, shall pass.”

I remember receiving repeated calls from my daughter’s kindergarten teacher letting me know my daughter had a stomachache (again) and wanted to be picked up. I sat on the stoop with her the next day while waiting for the big yellow bus and asked her, “Why do you get upset at school?” She finally admitted, with tiny tears streaming down her face, that she didn’t want me to be alone at home. Wow. Ask and ye shall receive.

I embraced her and said, “Mommy treasures having alone time!” With that, her tears subsided, she skipped to the bus…and that, too, passed.

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