Everyone else in the house is asleep. Well, Ray, the latest victim of our house-wide cold epidemic, might be awake due to his fitful coughing. But it’s quiet. Other than the taps I make on the keyboard, the only sound I only hear is the distant rumbling of our dishwasher, and the occasional cough or sneeze from one recovering child or another.
It is silent, the heartbeat kind. I don’t feel alone, or lonely. What I feel is energy in the peace of solitude.
I love being awake, active, while the rest of the house slumbers. Early or late, I like the stillness, the possibility of peace. Unfortunately, now that I’m not smoking, I don’t find myself up early or up late as much as before. I don’t know if it was the need for nicotine that roused me by six each morning, or just the habit that got me going, but these days I linger in bed until Ray reminds me that he actually has to go to work so I have to get up, please. It’s the same at the other end. I no longer need to stay awake for that last smoke, so I can get to bed and read before another vain attempt at 8 hours of rest.
But on nights like tonight, I remember what I also loved about early rising, late retiring. It’s the peace. The sense that all is right, while the kids are asleep, my husband dozes in our bed while listening to the news or ESPN. Uninterrupted, I can write or indulge in a full hour of yoga or answer emails or watch ridiculous mind-sucking television of my choosing (VH-1’s 80s countdowns and the Lifetime Channel come to mind). I can have a cup of coffee or tea and watch the news, flip through catalogues. Being alone in a houseful of people is one fine feeling.
It’s ironic that if I had this quiet all the time I would feel oppressed, depressed. Often I long for this ear-numbing stillness. Seventeen times during each chaotic day I fantasize about being by myself for days on end, with a white-sand beach endless before me, a stack of books and a week of sunny skies, a fantasy of being left alone, for god’s sake.
And yet, as I confided to my CVS pharmacist this evening, when it is quiet, when the kids are out with Ray or it’s late or I’m actually out in the world, on my own, I feel restless. It’s disquieting. I am not myself. I feel like I left a limb behind. I eventually shake the feeling, during the course of my Me Time, but the truth is, early rising, late retiring, the solitude of my quiet house, is often all I need to balance my spirit. I don’t have to leave my parenting behind to find peace.
So I can’t escape my Momminess. But a beach vacation is on the top of my to-do list. Some day. Until then I’ll have to pay more attention to my alarm clock when it faithfully buzzes at six a.m., and hope that my life continues to be more alluring than nicotine.