Friday, November 4, 2011

Those five minutes

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Yesterday I went to a small bloggers' event before work, leaving the lovely husband to take the younger two kids into daycare even though their daycare is in my work building, and I took E to kindergarten, since her school is just around the corner from my event. Then yesterday evening I went to another small bloggers' event, this one in a fun arts center half-hidden under draped white cloths, protecting its jewels from the surprisingly good boxed wine we drank freely. The lovely husband picked up one kid, then the other two, then fed and bedtimed and read and tucked and snuggled on his own, so that I could have an evening of blogger friends and boxed wine.

A friend who also happened to be at both events, who watched me win a fun prize and who also has young kids and who understands the headiness of me-time captured, noted the fortune:

And it was really all a bit much, in the best possible way. Yesterday was the kind of day I don't normally allow myself. Normally I say no because of work and I say no because of family time and I say no because of the pleas of my kids for more attention and the soft, love-tired sighs of my lovely husband as he fills milk cups with eight competing requests barraging him. 

I'm usually judicious and yesterday I was exuberantly un-.

It was, I think, in direct response to the lovely husband's week-long absence just concluded. It was prescriptive against his coming Monday flight to San Francisco. It was selfish, I think with a wide grin. It was delightful.

My lovely husband works hard, crazy hard, at his career. And when he comes home he works hard, crazy hard, even, at being an attentive husband and father. I always value him for both those qualities, even when I love to comitragically whine that the former interferes with the latter. It's the interstice I don't have much to say about - it's foreign to me, and mysterious, and so, so alluring. 

It's the hour, the drive home between Work and House. He drives alone, most nights, and has a measure of solitude. I leave work and directly collect children and while I love their company, there is never any pause to the rushing of my brain from the time I send the last email to my rush to beat the daycare's closing bell to the packing of bags and collecting of art projects and the hustling of bouncy-ball souls into a linear outcome: those confining car seat straps every time, woman, with the boring and predictable demands. And they chatter whine fuss talk over each other squeal with delight beat each other with shoes share food spill food throw food splatter milk giggle tell jokes demand a measure of response and then we get home, the freedom! as I undo straps and set their anarchy to the indoor landscape and it's zippers and more toilet paper and cold milk and where's the blue crayon and who's hungry and 

Incessant is the pace of my life, and I wouldn't have it any other way but in my office, we're used to the sound of the air handlers. Because of the work that we do, the air handlers are state-of-the-art and a little loud with their omnipresence and provide a whhhshhing backdrop to the work day.

Every so often the air handlers are turned off for a minute or two. And in that interstice I am always startled to realize that pen put to paper makes a faint scratchy sound. The wheels of my chair rolled back as I stand compress the rough carpet squares and faintly I hear them groan and stretch again. The bracelet I wear every day clicks against my countertop desk when my wrists pause at the end of a typed sentence.

In the unexpected quiets, the sensations of living are stronger. I hear myself as I think.

And so it is that we have a ritual. Despite the exaggerated screams of the red ink sirens of my calendar, the lovely husband is not always gone; and I am not always escaping. And in the harmony, when he has driven home in quiet and ostensibly a measure refreshed, and when I have driven home en circus and loosen at the arrival of his face, we do the downstairs stage of household management together. But when it is time to wrassle our bouncy-ball souls upstairs, he leads the way. I linger in the kitchen for five minutes. 

Sometimes I make myself a cup of tea. Sometimes I just lean against the wall and breathe.

In those five minutes are everything: my perspective, my restoration, my loves at a small distance removed so I can appreciate them with clarity, my breath at its own cadence because for five minutes, I'm responsible for nobody but myself.

And in the category of "how do you do it?," those five minutes are my very shield and sword.

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Ninotchka said...

Gorgeously written, friend.

Sue @ Laundry for Six said...

Whoa. I'm speechless. Every good word is already on this page.