Monday, February 4, 2013

The first morning of the first day of the rest of my life

At least, that's what it feels like. Today, for the first time this year, my four-year-old went back to kinder. Today, for the first time ever, my six- and nine-year-olds went to before care at school. Which means that today, everyone else left the house at 7.25 in the morning. My husband took the big girls to school, dropped the little one at kinder, and headed off to work – and I didn't have to pick anyone up until 1.30!

This will be our pattern several days a week, which means that this week, for the first time in nine and a half years, I will have many, many hours to study and write.

Nobody will ask me for a story, or a game, or a visit to the park. It will just be me, sitting alone with a book and a pen, quietly reading for hours. After nine and a half years of nappies and washing and dishes and little toys, and the questions and requests and repetitions of little children, the morning was shocking in its emptiness.

Time luxuriated before me, lolling on my kitchen table and teasing me from my books. Time seductively whispered that I could stretch and yawn and scratch myself. This week, my day won't be broken into the six minute units of lawyers and parents of young children. I can plan in blocks of an hour or even two. Time awaits me.

There was housework, but I didn't do it. There were dishes in the sink, but they were left to sit. The time was for reading and writing, and nothing else. If one can describe an activity that gives one great pleasure as work then, after a decade home with kids, this morning I went back to work.

Usually, when I'm not looking after kids, I run like a bull at a gate. I rush around and get things done and write something quick; I don't want to waste the opportunity. But by 9.30 this morning, I'd read a scholarly article and a government report and taken notes. My eyes and brain were getting fuzzy. I realised that if I'm going to spend the next five years researching and writing a thesis, I might just have to pace myself. And I also realised that tomorrow and the next day I get to do this all over again. My time is not perhaps quite so precious as it has been up until now; for the first time in a decade, I really do have enough.

I thought about how to rest for a while. Should I take five minutes and make myself a hot drink? Should I take ten and go for a stroll around the block? I was feeling creaky, and time kept murmuring that it would wait for me. So with a great sense of decadence, I performed a yoga routine. I bent and stretched and gloated for an hour, because finally I have time. The sheer luxury of so much overwhelms me.

The next book is waiting to be read, but I stole a few more minutes to write this post. As I made notes in my empty house and thought about today, I began to wonder about tomorrow. As I pondered, a tiny voice whispered,

After all these years with young children in the house, is it possible you will feel a bit lonely?

Perish the thought!


  1. Please tell the blog audience what you are studying...

    1. Sure - I'm investigating the preventive health benefits of friendships between children and adults. You know, that neighbour who always had room for you at the kichen table, or your mother's friend who became your friend too, and how those relationships have far reaching health benefits. Very early stages, so the topic may shift. But it wasn't meant to be a mystery, sorry about that.

  2. I haven't come by for a bit and it's so nice to read through some of your posts again! Your research noted above sounds fascinating....One of those things where the narrative tells us that of course there are benefits but the research hasn't really been done on it. Great to see you again :)

    1. Thanks Marilyn - I think it was Brene Brown who said that all good sociology is like an a-ha experience: you describe something familiar, and everyone goes, oh! of course! - but the act of describing it can be very helpful especially in identifying deficits.


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