Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not quite drowning


At last, the heat has broken and a gale from the south has charged through the house, sweeping out the stale air before it. Now I sit, well rested after the first cool night in weeks, and wonder why I don't feel fresh, too. Instead, I feel stale and dried out, with nothing much to say.

But the sort of writing I do needs great swathes of silence; incompatible with a seven week school break and three girls screeching around the house. Next week, though, school begins again. My two older girls will go back; and the third will start kinder, which I can only think of as six hours each week of silence. We are also starting a child swap: in return for looking after a delightful four year old one day a fortnight, on alternate weeks my youngest will be at her house and I will have a whole day alone.

Since I had my first child eight and a half years ago, I've rarely had a full day to call my own. We chose not to use professional childcare, and our combined commitments mean that days to myself are very rare indeed. I've been happy enough with regular half days, but suddenly today, with a week to go, I'm hanging out to be alone for hours on end. I'm looking forward to a time when writing isn't at the expense of everything else. Having enough time to do more of other things – exercise, read, listen to the wind – feels spacious, luxurious, a great privilege; who knows what will unfold?

In the meantime, though, I wait, up to my ankles in paper snowflakes and French knitting and marbles and jigsaw puzzles and all the other things that have drifted to the floor; up to my waist in Charlie & Lola and The Muddleheaded Wombat and A Necklace of Raindrops and all the other books I am required to read aloud; up to my elbows in Cluedo and crazy eights and ship o' fools and ludo and all the games that require my participation; up to my ears in kids' music and play dates and the horrible sounds of squabbling sisters...

In a sea of young children I wait, not quite drowning, one arm raised to next week.


  1. The cool change, Alison, perhaps reflects the chance of peace ahead for you when your children go back to school and kindergarten.

    I know that longing for solitude well, and then when it comes, it surprises, even frightens me.

    We're not quite drowning but not yet swimming either. I hope this week's return to school gives you the space you need to embrace your writing.

  2. I too, like some solitude when organising thoughts into words, not that I am anywhere near to being a writer!.

    Right now the wind outside is howling and one of my boxer dogs is quietly pacing the lounge room and letting out the occasional squeak, no doubt willing me to hurry up and prepare dinner for them.

    The other boxer is curled up on her bed, eyes closed, but I know that should I make the barest of movements she will spring up and look towards the kitchen.

  3. What a wonderfully clear image you finish this piece with. It makes me feel less alone in my craving for school to begin.
    My youngest is about to start kinder too and I look forward to see what spaces for art-making it will bring.

  4. Hello All, I have an enormous and somewhat bewildered admiration for those who home school - who'd relinquish six hours of state sanctioned activities with a group of fantastic kids and energetic teachers every day?!!! Anyway, here's to a year studded with long moments of creative solitude for all of us!


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