A solitude of space

There is a solitude of spaceA solitude of sea
A solitude of death, but these
Society shall be
Compared with that profounder site
That polar privacy
A soul admitted to itself --
Finite infinity.-Emily Dickinson

I am a person who plays well with others. Friendly, outgoing and loud are all words that have been frequently deployed to describe me. Do you need someone to be your public speaker? Sure! Want me to facilitate a meeting? It would be my pleasure.

“People” is something I’m good at.

Except… I realize now that “people” kind of takes it out of me. I suspected this but I never truly knew it until I became a Mom. When you become a parent your whole life becomes “people”. A little person in the morning who shouts “Mama!” gaily at 6:30 am. A little person in the afternoon who screams inconsolably into your arms because he is so tired he’s lost his words. With a child you are almost never, ever alone and the second I lost my alone time I realized its importance.

Alone time is the white gallery wall that highlights the art. It’s the pause that helps you enjoy the symphony’s last minute. It’s the breath before the sigh. The pinch of salt that brings out the sweet.

In the rare moments I’m alone now I can physically feel my body re-setting. My shoulders relax, my heart thumps along slow and contented. I can feel myself becoming a person again. Humpty Dumpty, filling up the cracks and misplaced shell.

Two weeks ago we had the best time ever: playing in the snow with friends who are like family. Surrounded by his doting Tíos and Tías Elian’s eyes sparkled with joy and wonder. Relieved of the duty of caring for him alone Arnold and I relaxed sloppily: we enjoyed all of the freedom of not-parenting with none of the guilt.

It was bliss.

I notice though that Elian needs time to be alone. At some point his joy makes him manic, exhausted by fun he dissolves into tears. Two Fridays ago as I kissed away the tired I remembered again how important it is to spend time alone, no matter how much you enjoy the company of others. So on Saturday I stayed at the cabin with Elian while the others headed off to Emerald Bay.

I put him to sleep and happily sat down with a bag of chips and hot chocolate to read the afternoon away. I sat there alone in the stillness watching the waves and thought of my little one, sleeping in the other room, sighing in his sleep.

I thought about the ways he teaches me what I need through displaying his limits. His need to rest reminds me that I too am sometimes so very tired. His tears remind me that we all have to remember to temper our socialness with reprieves.  It’s in teaching him that I learn in ways I couldn’t otherwise. He is like a mirror to my faults; with each tear he sheds I discover a crack in my own heart that needs repairing. So on Saturday we spent time together being alone. He in his crib, sleeping in a shaft of golden sun and me on the couch curled up with hot chocolate, chips and a good book.

Together in our solitude, we filled our souls and rested our bodies.

Posted on February 9, 2011 and filed under Nothing to Do with Anything.