‘The hour before the world gets to you is precious and sacred time.’
It’s February and the waves are crashing right outside my window, right outside my three windows. The house is quiet and the sea is loud. Now and again a train passes over the narrow track. The rugged beach is dotted with dog walkers in anoraks, an occasional horse.
I had my breakfast in the huge bay window downstairs – porridge with berries, chocolate brioche, Brené Brown, tea. I had my breakfast while the rest of the house slept. The sea was loud but it let me be.
On my first night at the writers’ retreat I had my supper, filled my hot water bottle and went to bed. I thought about sitting up, by the cosy fire, with this interesting group of people, all here by the sea to write. Where else would I meet them?
Fear of missing out thrummed its familiar beat. A glass of wine and fireside conversation with interesting strangers sounds like a life I used to have. Sounds like something motherhood should be making me crave. Don’t I?
I do want those things. But I want my morning more.
I am here for 3 nights as a Christmas present. My husband knows that in this season of life the greatest gift he can give me is Time (especially time with wild sea and a desk to write at).
I feel like Time & I have been locked in battle ever since I became a mum. I write lists and confab with my husband, trying to figure out how to fit it all in. I scratch things off the list or designate them a particular slot, I swap things around. We try to prioritise. Which things are obligatory? Which things are necessary? Which things are not? We try to name the things we love, the things we want to make time for. I write more lists and scratch more things off. We try to work out how to give each other ‘time’.
Last year I chose Rhythm as my word for the year and I noticed that I am addicted to the elusive ideal of ‘getting everything done first’, and it is filling my days with stress. I keep chasing this daily rhythm where the rest comes at the end. In some seasons, and contexts, this can be a healthy pattern, but not in motherhood. I seem to have developed an “inner bookie” where I am constantly calculating the odds of a restful evening as I go through the day. I do more to try to boost the odds. I count desperately on something rather uncertain – my girls having a smooth, on-time bedtime. I put too much pressure on things I can’t control. It’s exhausting and it doesn’t work, the payoff never comes. The tattoo on my foot says “Be Still” but I seem to have scheduled even stillness – only when the house is still, only when the dishes are done. So what I get, if I get it, is the left overs. Whatever time is left, whatever energy is left.
There is a phrase that has been rattling round my head since I read it recently in ‘Simplicity Parenting’, it is about establishing islands of “being” in the torrent of constant doing. The book says that to have moments of calm – creative or restful – is a form of deep sustenance for human beings of all ages. I am trying to establish this for my girls, but I am trying to establish it for myself, too. “Islands of being”, I mutter to myself like a crazy person, “islands of being!”.
Virginia Woolf said every woman needs a room of her own. I don’t have that… but I do have an hour of my own and it’s glorious.
[Glennon Doyle Melton]
As I continue to seek rhythm in 2016, my word for this year is ‘Morning.’ I want to choose this island of being, this hour of my own, at the start of the day, instead of frantically chasing it all day. I know I’m a morning person, I don’t know why I stubbornly put so much stock in the evening. I am also a person that needs a little solitude and I have realised that if I don’t choose it first thing, then I spend all day resenting how impossible it is to get.
So here’s to moments of calm.
Here’s to choosing the sustenance we need.
Here’s to precious, sacred time…
…and here’s to that morning cuppa.
What about you? Any words for the year? Are mornings or evenings your sacred time?