I first ran away from home when I was two years old. I was playing in the front yard with my mother and she needed to run down to the washing machine in the basement to get the wet laundry. She tied my walking harness to the tree in the front yard so I wouldn’t wander off. Unknown to her, an older girl (probably all of three or four) was watching me from next door and thought I needed rescuing. She untied me and wandered off to play. Suddenly, Mom had a “bad feeling” and rushed outside in time to see me toddling down the block.
Wharncliffe was, and still is, a very busy street and so you can imagine how quickly she ran down the block to catch me before I thought of crossing it.
“Where on earth are you going, Mollie,” she asked.
“I’m going to Newsie (Newfoundland)”, I answered. My mother’s parents lived in Newfoundland and we had gone to visit them for a few weeks that summer. Needless to say, I didn’t get there that day.
My grandparents and me in their backyard in St. John’s
I tried to run away from home again when I was five years old. I had a temper tantrum and Dad sent me to my room. After pounding on the floor to no avail, I got a paper bag and put all my “valuables” in it. I grabbed Mary, my rag doll who went everywhere with me, and stomped out to the front door. My father met me there and asked where I was going.
“I’m running away,” I said.
I thought he would be worried or upset, but instead he said,” Okay” and opened the front door for me. That hadn’t gone exactly the way I’d thought it would. I went out the door and then paused on the front porch to look up and down the street. Where on earth would I go? I could go to my friend, Susan’s house, but I knew that her mother would just bring me home and I was still angry. I sat down on the step for awhile to think. What would I do for food? My tummy was already growling and I knew that they were sitting down for supper inside. Where would I sleep? The ground was kind of hard and had bugs crawling around on it. My bed, on the other hand, was warm and safe. Hmmm…maybe I should delay this running away for a day or so, I decided. Quietly, I opened the door and went back inside.
During my teen years there were many times when things got very tense around the dinner table. I had strong opinions (probably some wrong opinions as well) and my father and I didn’t always agree. Many times I went storming out of the house to walk furiously around the block or two until my anger subsided. After a few minutes, I would calm down , but my pride wouldn’t let me return until I thought my mom would begin to worry about me. Dad and I were like oil and water, but our relationship improved greatly after I went away to college and later when I got married.
I was still very opinionated and passionate about many topics when I first got married. So was my husband. I tended to slam cupboard doors a lot when I got angry. The most infuriating thing that he would do was fall asleep when I still wanted to argue. You just can’t have a satisfactory argument when the only person responding is yourself. Most annoying.
Eventually, we had children and when I finally fell into bed at night I was exhausted. I remember one time thinking that it would be so great if I could just go into the hospital with some minor thing, like an infected toe or something, so I could be off my feet and just sleep a truly relaxing sleep. There I was, again wanting to run away,temporarily at least, from home.
Now, I treasure all those moments when our family is all together around a table. It only happens at weddings and funerals now. Everyone is so busy and our children are living in different cities. When it does happen, I am blissfully happy, even if the gathering is boisterous. Now I long to run home or to home the way it was when the children were here. And I also longingly reminisce about my childhood home.
Human beings are strange. We pull so hard to get loose from those parental apron strings and when we finally succeed we look back with nostalgia. Isn’t our relationship with our heavenly Father somewhat the same? Human beings try so hard to be self-sufficient and we can really be ungrateful for all God has given us and yet, where do we run when we are all out of alternatives? If we are believers we return, like the prodigal children we are, right back to God’s waiting arms. What a comfort it is to know that no matter what foolishness or mess we get ourselves into, God will always welcome us back home! Just like most earthly parents, God is longing for the day when we are all sitting at his table, boisterously happy and gratefully praising Him.