I woke up at 5 am today ON PURPOSE. Just to write. I can tell you with complete certainty that, after 2 babies back to back, and no consistent sleep for a solid 3.5 years, I did not envision a day when I would choose to wake up before dawn for MY OWN GOOD.
Listen, the kinds of things that used to “restore” me are just not the kinds of things that bring me peace and restoration now. I used to relish things like getting my nails done, or having a massage or the fresh, crisp exhale that comes after cleaning the shit out of my house (this was before children, as you can clearly tell). Also, I liked to hole away at night, take an endlessly long shower and curl into bed with a good book and my favorite music.
After having kids, I HAVE STRUGGLED to figure out how to restore this soul. Do you know what you do not get to do when you are the mother of small children? Take long showers. Know what else? Hole away for a night. Getting my nails done? Ahahahahaha. You are cute! And clean the shit out of my house? THERE ARE NO MOMENTS IN MY CURRENT LIFE WHEN I GET “PEACEFUL” AT THAT THOUGHT.
I have tried to do things that soothe me. And, generally, it’s a far more uncomplicated act or process than I imagined it would be:
Sometimes, it’s just being rested, or getting a complete and full 8 hours of sleep. I’ve noticed that there’s something kind of miraculous about spending an hour in my home without work or my family and just myself. Even if I do nothing but listen to music. Or cook. Or tidy in silence. Sometimes, it’s sitting on my front step when the sun is high, and basking like a kitty in a glowing sunbeam.
Still, waking up at 5 am just never sounded like a peaceful project. Until today. I don’t know you guys, but there’s something straight mysterious and divine about a humming, sleeping house. Curled up on my couch in my jammies across from my twinkling christmas tree and beneath my entire, slumbering family felt like a reward. I sat and I wrote and I wrote and I sat and then my child woke up and came tip toeing down the stairs and I will tell you: I was happy to see him. (It was 6:15 am, and I just want you to know I almost never want to see anyone at that hour).
I think I like stealing the earliest hours of the day for just me. I think it felt like a secret, or like entering a trap door into a room, all of my own. I understand why Virginia Woolf wrote in A Room of One’s Own:
“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anyone but oneself.”
Certainly, I have missed something far too obvious all of these years of my life, both before babies and after, and that was this:
Restoring myself isn’t an outside job. It’s the simple act of sitting still, in quiet, unremarkable and yet, myself.
I’ll take it.
See you at the crack of dawn, sisters.