Thursday, July 24, 2008

Special Spots

Where do you go when you need to be alone?

When I was in college, every once in awhile I used to go to my parents' camp for a few days, all by myself. I would get a stash of junk food, maybe some wine coolers, and just be. I was still living at my parents' house, except when I was living in the dorm, and camp was the only time I could get some extended privacy. I just loved it. There was limited electricity, no running water, it was VERY dark at night, and very, very quiet. Awesomeness.

My mother has observed that I never do that now. My answer is, that I don't need to anymore. I have my own house. The kids are gone periodically, and I have the entire place to myself, to be silent. With a bathroom!

Another place I used to go to be alone, in smaller doses, was the ocean. I would drive down to Crockett's Beach in Owls Head, and just sit and watch and listen and breathe. It was a good place for me to think. I made the mistake of telling a boyfriend once where I went to get away, and he followed me there after a fight. I haven't gone there just to be, since.

I was asking Kira some questions the other day about life at her dad's house, especially with the new baby (he's 11 days old). At X's, Kira and her sister share a bedroom, which you can only get to by going through her dad's bedroom. Mark has his own small bedroom downstairs. The new baby is apparently sleeping in X's room for convenience's sake, and will then be moved to Kira and A's room for a few years, until he is old enough to move into Mark's room. D is a nurse and usually works the night shift, so she sleeps during the day. A still takes naps (she's three). Between D, A, and the new baby (also A...let's call him A2), Kira is pretty much never allowed in her own room, because of the risk of waking someone up.

I asked Kira where she went when she needed to be alone. She said the bathroom. But that even then, she didn't get much peace, because someone would come along and want her out.

I think it's essential that everyone has a place that they can go to be by themselves. It doesn't have to be the same place every time, but I believe that each of us *has* to know that there is a place that we can get to, to be alone with our own thoughts and feelings, where we can center ourselves and find peace.

I think that's one of the biggest things that drives new moms crazy. It's never being able to be by ourselves for any length of time. It's having someone making demands on us, 24/7, following us every single place that we go, always, never giving us a breath alone. Wherever we are, there is a little person, clinging, questioning, chasing us down. The first time I was able to go into the bathroom by myself with no kids banging on the door, asking me what I was doing and if they could come, that was a little piece of heaven.

We need a haven, a private breathing space. For many of us, we are able to carve that spot out somewhere in our homes. It might be your bedroom, or a corner of the garden, or a rocking chair in the den. It might be the morning walk that you take by yourself. Or the long drive in the country. Wherever it is, each of us should have this special space for ourselves; have it, and guard it, and keep it for ourselves. Even in a live where you share everything, you should always have something that is your own. Something, some place, where you can be entirely and utterly you. Alone.

I believe that having this sanctuary is essential for our mental health. Well, mine anyway. I need time where I am not a mother or a daughter or a friend or a neighbor or a volunteer or a patient or any other label. Where all masks fall away, where I am open and vulnerable to myself, where there are no expectations or demands. When all of this is stripped away, I can just breathe, and be.

Do you have a special spot? mk


Joanna said...

I am still in the state where the kids follow me everywhere...the bathroom is not an option at all, that is like bees to honey. I would have to say that if I really need alone time I go to the bookstore, plop myself in one of those big comfy chairs and read a book I have no intention of buying while sipping on ice coffee....AHHHHH!

Anonymous said...

In a word, no.

I have occasional solitude during the school year; if I take my lunch break at home while everyone's out of the house, or if Willem is doing homework after the kids are in bed, then I can carve out an hour or so of my own. But during the summer? Not so much. My commute to work - all 2.7 miles of it - is done without the radio on, because it's my only guaranteed silence all day.

It's one of the reasons I hate our house - I don't have my own space. My husband has his office, the kids have their rooms, but I don't have an area that is solely mine.

I'm ready for September. And I'm even more ready for next summer, when we move to my dream house, and dammit, some piece of it will be just-mine.

Margaret said...

Special spot - is my gameroom at the house. hubby tends to stay away from there. He's either downstairs or in his office. My DVR is there, my well worn spots in the couch. The ceiling fan hits me just right. The portable fan (I'm pregnant and live in Houston, I can't help the heat) hits me even more just right.

And my favorite thing I have bought for kidlet - little fricking denim hightop sneakers with puppy dogs on them. OMG cuteness. And we went out again yesterday.

My baby has clothes.


At least I bought ahead in sizes though - lots of 6-9 month stuff.