February 5, 2012


Once again, I'm linking up with Mad Jackie for Secret Sunday.

Most days, it takes my children over an hour to actually settle in and nap.  Many, many times I've been advised to let them off the hook- to let them play alone in their room, or to make it "quiet time" instead of "nap time," but I can't.

You see, I treasure my children's nap time.

It's the only time during the day that I get to be almost alone.

I used to be alone a lot of the time.  Through pretty much all of my teenage years, I didn't sleep.  I would spend each night, alone, wandering the town on foot or entertaining myself in my bedroom.

I really treasured my alone time.  I loved how my parents' old neighborhood seemed to just belong to me in the wee hours of the morning.  I would pilfer flowers from neighbors gardens, and leave mystery roses in front of strangers doorways.  I figured everyone could use a little romance and mystery in their lives.

Or I would write.  Or I would paint.  Or I would read, endlessly.

When I moved to Chicago, I gave up my nighttime wandering after one or two excursions.  It seemed like a remarkably foolish thing to do, blind alleys everywhere, threatening strangers... You aren't actually alone when you walk in the city at night.  Even after leaving downtown, heading to the far north of the city, I still wasn't alone at night.  I learned the hard way that there is a special kind of night life in places that are, literally, full of people.  And no matter how appealing it might sound to wander off to the beach at two in the morning, there are a whole host of reasons why it shouldn't be done.

When I lived in the dorms for my art school, I was lucky enough to have a roommate who had a boyfriend in town.  I almost always had the place to myself.  One summer with a roommate (who had a VERY active social life and was never home) and then I moved into my studio apartment.


It's odd- I have always been a profoundly social person.  I have always loved the company of other people, I have always tried to make my home, my space, a place where all of my friends felt welcome.  A place of gathering.  Dinner parties, couch crashers, lunch dates, art nights...  My home has always been a hub.

When M and I moved in together, we picked an apartment where I could still have *my* space.  My studio, but more than that.  A place where I did my private things.  Personal things.  A place that was just mine, and that I didn't have to share.  A place where I could still be alone.

And that didn't work out so well.  With M's diagnosis, our home was always full of family- it was a huge perk of having chosen the apartment we did- the extra space could house more guests.

And then we had babies.

And I haven't actually been alone since we had babies.

I used to relish my drives to school in the morning.  It was the closest to solitude that I could get.

I love my children.  I am constantly awed by them, always proud of them, and my sense of blind luck in having two such incredible little people as my children humbles me every day.  As much as I never doubted that I would love my children, I never expected it to be quite like what it is.  How I can wipe their noses and their butts day after day and be truly ambivalent to the ickiness 90% of the time, and still find so much profound joy in the smiles they give me while I do it.  I just also wish that for even a few hours a month, I could just... be alone.

The things I wish I could still do are very simple.  I wish I could wander around my house singing Les Mis in full character.  I wish I could take long baths.  I wish I could nap in the sunny spots on the carpet.  I wish I could read every book I've picked up with the intention of reading in the last four years.

But I don't get to be alone.  Not really.

My children are very good about keeping to themselves when I want them to.  They're very cooperative about playing together so I can get things done.

But they decided ages ago that whenever I sing, I must be trying to put them to sleep.  I can't sing showtunes in my pajamas without two tiny critics shouting me down.

I can't soak in the tub with a glass of wine and a book of esoteric philosophy.  I can't spend hours poring over my OED.

Yes- I used to do that.

I do miss being alone, but more than that I miss feeling alone.  There is something remarkably comforting about solitude.  Something soothing in knowing that the only person who gives a damn what you're doing at that moment is yourself.  I think that solitude is healthy.

I am actually looking forward to the fall so much I can hardly believe it.

This fall, SI and DD will *hopefully* be starting pre-school.  And I'll be left for three hours each day alone with Baby X.

Baby X, who will be three months old, and probably still be sleeping a lot.

Baby X, who *hopefully* will not object to my singing.  Who will *hopefully* be the sort of easygoing child that SI and DD were as infants.

And- incredibly- for the first time I will find myself at home with only one baby.

It sounds so easy right now I almost can't believe it.

Only one baby...

It will almost be like being alone.


  1. I completely understand. I loved being a stay-at-home mom to my son for four years, but when he was about two I put him in a mother's day out program that was about 4 hours a day, twice a week. It was extremely healthy for me (and for him, as he really did grow and learn from the interaction with other children and authoritative figures.)

    I LOVEEEDDDD our time together where it was just us, but it was so nice to recharge my batteries by being without him for a few hours. I'd drop him off and think... hmmm, what am I going to do?

    One challenge of a new mother is learning how to NOT always BE a mother. We get intertwined with our children immediately and forget who we are other than someone's mommy.

    Alone time is very healthy. And I'm glad you'll be getting that again soon (or, at least ALMOST getting it.)

    Thank you for linking up BTW. It's really been nice getting to know you.

    Jackie @

  2. I think many of us who write cherish the alone times, when our thoughts are free to run where they will rather than be scattered across the minutes of the day. The trick is to devise a plan to grab enough moments together to make being alone worthwhile.

    Not being a morning person, early does not appeal to me. Late night works great and I loved the idea of you walking the neighborhood. So yes, nap time was a sacred time when my little ones cooperated and now my grandchildren. Good news is that soon enough the alone time will be plentiful. Until then gather up those minutes and cherish them.



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