Several months ago, I had this great idea to move our kitchen table and chairs down to our basement schoolroom. The girls would eat their breakfast and lunch on the new bar stools around the kitchen island and then we would all eat dinner every night in the dining room where a lot of expensive furniture had been re-purposed as a giant mail display/dust magnet. I put a big, comfy chair and ottoman where the table had been, next to a huge window that looks out to our backyard. Placing a tiny, well-loved (read: shabby) table next to it with my favorite lamp, I now had an ideal reading/writing/relaxing spot in the corner of my kitchen.
Like most of my "great ideas," things didn't work out exactly as I'd hoped. The girls do eat their breakfast and lunch at the island, but after about a week of eating dinner in the dining room, we all migrated back to the kitchen. The girls eat their dinner perched on their bar stools while Anthony and I eat standing up, either holding our plates in one hand as if we're at a cocktail party (I think I remember what those are like) or else with our plates on the island, far too low, so that we are stooped over like a pair of vultures humming "Food, Glorious Food!" while we pick at our meals. The dining room table has reverted back to its former inglorious status as general junk surface and the reading/writing/relaxing spot has slowly become the ideal landing place for purses and coats to accumulate.
My husband came home from work early. It's Monday. Ballet day. Since he is not usually home from work until after we return from ballet, I asked nicely (and when he resisted, I then asked not nicely, and then in a really loud voice) if he would PLEASE take the girls to dance class so I could stay home and cook dinner.
The truth is, we're having leftovers, so "making dinner" tonight only requires as much effort as it takes to press the buttons on the microwave.
What I really wanted was just to be alone in my house for an hour.
I wanted to sit in my chair and listen to Mumford & Sons and enjoy an hour of no one asking for anything.
Is that bad?
I adore my girls, which is a good thing since we're a homeschooling family. We are together almost constantly. And I do mean that quite literally since Carys still sleeps in our bed (more on that another day) and none of the three of them thinks anything about kicking in the bathroom door when I'm in there or, as I have learned to keep it locked, to yell their demands under said bathroom door.
We do miss each other and appreciate each other more when we happen to be apart for a few hours. But these little breaks while they are in ballet class or I am at Target do not hold the same weight for me as being home. Alone. There is something so comforting about being in my own space by myself. Yes, I know this is my family's home. But it is also my domain. It is where I am most comfortable, most myself, most free.
I would say that, on average, I am alone in my house once a quarter. And that is quite enough, really. But I do very much enjoy those times when they do roll around or, as it happened today, when I throw a big enough tantrum that they roll around a little earlier than expected.
So, now that they have left, I have sent myself to the corner.
It is so quiet that I can hear both the kitchen and family room clocks ticking out of synch, back and forth in hushed conversation. I can even hear it despite the sound of my fingers flying over the keyboard and a few birds singing outside the closed window.
In a few moments, my family will return. Anthony's key will turn the lock with a click even as Carys rings the doorbell a few times for the fun of it. Yoshi will start barking in crazed excitement at their arrival. Bronte and Chloe will burst into my kitchen, talking over each other, telling me what new part of their recital dance they learned, or gossiping about which of their peers got scolded by Miss Leigh Anne during class.
The sounds of the clocks ticking in my family room and kitchen will be swallowed up in the din and won't be heard again for a while. That's okay. There's another one whose ticking rises above it all. It used to keep time regularly, but lately, it seems to be speeding up as it whispers to me--
Let them clamor.
Let them kick in the bathroom door.
Let the little one crawl into your bed at night.
My hour is up and I'm ready to come out of the corner.
I think we will eat our leftovers in the dining room tonight.