Yesterday, I received the greatest, most precious gift of all: Time alone, at home.
Alone time is rare enough; our situation is such that I used to only get two hours a week when I went to the library to write. COVID stopped that and although it’s now pretty safe here, I haven’t got back into the habit.
Especially after a week like the one just gone, where I’ve been OUT OUT OUT SOCIAL SOCIAL SOCIAL from first thing to late afternoon, every day: driving all around town for homeschool classes, looking after mum, piano lessons, shopping, appointments, spending a day with a friend. Come Sunday, I find myself thoroughly begrudging the idea of getting dressed and going out in the hot and the public, AGAIN.
Yep. Even if it means forfeiting the only two hours off duty I’m likely to get.
But as it happened, the off-duty time came to me. And four hours, not two.
All I had to do, was decide how best to use it.
I mean, a treat like that, you really want to make the most of it. Maxiumum benefit.
SO MUCH PRESSURE.
SUCH A CONUNDRUM.
What to do? How best to use all this glorious FREE TIME??
I’d written lots during the week, sitting in the corner of the homeschool class and during TV o’clock, so although writing is always my first three favourite things to do, it wasn’t exactly burning with urgency.
On the other hand, lots of other stuff, was.
There’s Christmas, charging at us like a wounded rhino. The kids are super excited and surprisingly this year, I am, too. We’re having three days away mid-December so I’ve set the goal of having it all done and wrapped before we go. (Voice in head: BWAHAHAHAAAA! AS. IF. Other voice in head: Shut up, you.)
I could go shopping, unencumbered, and enjoy some lovely air-conditioning. (Both voices: Although…shopping. UGH.)
I could rootle around online without distraction or fear of anyone asking what I’m looking at and why and here’s another six pages of their wish-list.
I could – ooh, I know what’d be smart – I could unpack the stash and see what, if anything, I’ve already bought, and for whom. Maybe even start wrapping. How great would that be for executive function and forestalling some pressure next month, eh?
Ooh! Or, OR, I could do tidying! I could tackle one of the Epic Messes that are driving me and the Skeptic out of our tiny little minds, and which I haven’t touched all week. I could – be still, my heart – I could THROW STUFF OUT without anyone wailing, reprimanding me for not recognising its intrinsic dearness, and carrying said stuff off to repose peacefully with its mates, on the floor in a different room.
Hell, I could do tidying with loud music. That’s fun! Therapeutic loud singing, sans criticism! And at the end of it there’d be Clear Space! HOW EXCELLENT WOULD THAT BE?!?
Although… One of the kids cleaned their entire room and – wait for it – threw a heap of their own crap out last month, all by themselves, without even crying. (Why is this not a milestone in the development books, eh? It bloody should be.)
In fact, they’re both levelling up. One of them is complaining regularly of boredom while resisting all change. (Hello, anxiety, you miserable bastard.) The other is hell-bent on solving it all by themselves now yesterday faster, but guess what? Also anxious, so SCREAMING.
I have a lot of fucking research to do, getting my head around all that – and if either of them catch me doing it, the consequences will be shitty. So this time would be ideal. Hell, if it reduced my stress at all, I might even be able to sleep. (Voice in head: suuuure. You’ll just magically start sleeping. That’s riiiiight. Other ViH: stink-eyes first ViH)
Orrrr, given that this time is a gift to me, perhaps I could use it to do some more reading about self-publishing. Chat to that lovely writer from the facebook group, who offered any help I could think of. So many questions!
But, god, I felt meh.
I was tired and it’s hot which makes me stupid. I couldn’t find any skerrick of mojo, anywhere. And I suppose there’s just the teensiest, weensiest chance I was over-thinking.
I dithered over the decision for a solid hour before they went, in between collecting and putting away groceries, hanging out laundry, and 999 questions from CraftyFish about Christmas. Once they left, I dithered some more. Two cups of tea didn’t help and the music, on when I started, was too loud. It got turned down, then turned down again, and when it disconnected itself, I didn’t restart it.
Instead I heard a third voice in my head, the quietest one, the one way down deep underneath all the shoulds and coulds, saying, “girl, you need a nap.” I heard it and I heard the ghostly whispers of all the good, smart, women I know, those amazing advocates of self-care, and fuck me, I did it. I pulled the plug on productivity. Took my hearing aids out, put the fan on, and lay down for a nap.
I’m not sure I slept. The shoulds, coulds, what-ifs and what-abouts are so bloody insistent. There are so many of them. And, I’m really not very good at this ‘rest’ business. But I tried. I lay down and shut my eyes and used my precious alone-time to Do Nothing.
And I am very, very proud of myself.