What my living room might look like IF solitude ruled.
A long time ago when I was contemplating getting married ( at the tender age of 19…shock, horror), a ‘friend’ counseled me against it. He said, “Before you commit to sleeping with someone else, make sure you can first sleep alone in the dark.” I think he was trying to say – make sure you aren’t just getting married because you don’t want to be by yourself. Make sure before you get married that you are wildly independent and successful so you are getting married because you WANT to be with that person. Not because you NEED to be. Because you just don’t want to be alone and lonesome.
Well, I thought about his advice for exactly two seconds. I mean, come on, I was 19 and HRH was wildly hot and who really thinks about boringly serious stuff like that when your’re 19 and with someone who’s wildly hot?! Besides, I was suspicious of any relationship advice from this particular friend because he had just finished trying to convince me of 101 reasons why I should be running off into the sunset with HIM instead. Ha. I’m not stewpid! Anyway, I’ve had 17 years to reflect and I have to say that his advice did have a CRUMB of truth in it. You see, once you get married and have buckets of children, there is one truth we hold to be self-evident and unshakably TRUE.
YOU WILL NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER BE ALONE AGAIN.
Not only will you never sleep alone in the dark again, but you will never ever have a waking, breathing moment that does not include someone else….When you lock the door to your bedroom, people will stand outside it and holler – at you and about you. Even if you ignore them. “Muuuum, it’s my turn on the xbox but he won’t give me the controller!” (You ignore them. So they continue creatively.) “Muuum!? She said to give me the controller.” “No she didn’t.” “Yes she did. Give it now.” “No she didn’t, MUUUUUUM he’s taking the controller off me!” And so it continues.
They will follow you around the house. Into the garage. Out to the garden. Talking, constantly talking. They will even try to go to the bathroom with you. Honestly. If you’ve never had a 3 yr old, you may not believe this. But it’s a fact. I’m going to the loo. The child nimbly darts ahead of me and dashes inside. “I go with you mama! I help you!” I don’t want any help. But she doesn’t believe me. I give up. I want to take a shower. Teenagers hover outside the door, cajoling you loudly over the splashing water because they are trying to convince you why they should be allowed to go to a sleepover ( when they know full well the family golden rulebook states “Thou shalt not go to sleepovers. There is no way in hell that thou shalt be allowed to spend the night at any friends houses. NO WAY IN HELL.)
I sit and read a book. An 8 yr old sits beside me. Breathing. Staring at me. Asks me if I’m busy. ‘Yes Im reading.’ When will you be finished? (Never, you want to snap. When the sky falls down, when Edward Cullen dies of old age, when Han Solo swoops in on his spaceship and whisks me away from this galaxy on hyperspeed…NEVER.)So she tells me – “Thats okay Mum, I’ll just sit here and watch you. Wait for you. Keep you company.” And i want to scream and beg her ( and every other child in my life) “NO, PLEASE JUST GIVE ME SOME SPACE. JUST LEAVE ME SOME AIR TO BREATHE THAT DOESNT ALREADY HAVE YOUR NAME ON IT. PLEEEEEASE. I WANT TO BE ALONE!”
Yesterday, I snapped. I was mean. Explosive and horrible. So HRH bundled them all in the car and took them to visit their cousins for the afternoon. So i could have some ‘space’. Solitude. The first hour was blissful. I washed the dishes my way. And fluffed all the throw cushions on the sofa just like Vogue House and Garden. The second hour was industrious. I baked. Two different kinds of cake. And made seafood chowder.And i was grateful the Beast wasnt there pestering me “Mama i stir it for you. Mama, can i eat it. Mama i carry it to the oven. Mama, i wanna COOK!” The third hour passed very, very slowly. I sat and watched the sun set. And wondered what the children were doing. The fourth hour was anxious. I listened to unexplained noises and tried not to think about serial killers. And gigantic snakes living in the ceiling. By the fifth hour, i was pacing. Calling HRH’s cellphone. ‘Where the hell are you? When are you coming home?” And then it hit me. I may lust for it, pine for it, fantasize about it, but – abundant solitude sucks. HRH and my children have ruined me. I cant stand being without them for too long.
The family returned. I greeted them effusively. They were wary – but easily enthralled by the 2 different kinds of cake and steaming bowls of seafood chowder.They made a mess in the kitchen. The artfully arranged living room quickly looked ‘lived in.’ I couldnt hear the serial killers or the snakes anymore because of all the yelling, arguing and laughing. The Beast held my hand and accompanied me to the shower. “Mama I go with you. I help you.” And at bedtime, she climbed into her bed ( actually MY bed) and snuggled me. I turned the light off and she said anxiously, ‘Mama, I cant see you!” But then she patted my face in the darkness as i replied, “I’m here. Mama’s here.”
I listened to her breathe in the night while teenagers bickered over dishwashing duty in the kitchen and I was happy. Because for a solitude-starved mother…just a little bit goes a long way.