It’s a summer morning and the house is quiet. My kids are still asleep and with no school or camp for today, they could very well sleep until noon.
I sip my coffee and read the newspaper. Turn on my laptop and check out my Twitter and Facebook feeds. There are dishes in the sink that I left from the night before and there are crumbs on the floor, unswept from the evening.
And I sip my coffee, enjoying the quiet. Enjoying the moment to myself before I switch into the “mom” mode. Here, right now, in these quiet hours, my responsibilities can wait. I ignore the dishes and the crumbs. The laundry and the wake-up calls. It’s just me. Starting the day.
These moments are rare. Practically nonexistent during the school year when mornings are rushed and panicked. Lunches thrown together at the last minute amid silent promises to make them the night before, for real, from then on. Promises that next time, all shoes will be lined up neatly in front of the house so that no one is searching as the carpool honks the horn out front. During the year, mornings are filled with rushing, and banging on bathroom doors and broken promises riddled with maternal guilt.
But now, in these quiet hours, while my kids sleep late, I go back in time. I write. I dream. I listen to music that no one else listens to. I write letters. Actual letters, to my daughter in camp and to my friend down the street. Everything I do is for me alone. No cleaning. No organizing. No shopping. No scheduling of the day’s events.
I remember my summers as a kid. Long nights with friends. Days racing down hills on bikes. Swimming. Exploring. Now, I look at the work my kids are required to finish over the summer and I feel sorry for them as they leave school and start summer with a stack of stress by their beds. They have math packets and book reports. Essays and question sheets. And while my daughter struggles to read the required Steinbeck, I just want to hand her Gaiman and tell her, “Read this. Because if you read it, you’ll love it. I promise. And then you’ll read more.”
It would be responsible of me to wake them. Get their days started. Make them complete their summer work. But sleeping late, swimming, eating breakfast for lunch – these are just as important as the math review.
And also, now, it’s quiet. They’re sleeping. And I am sipping my coffee and relishing the nothing. Enjoying the boredom. Inhaling the freedom in these quiet hours. There’s no structure. No schedule to be on. The minutes tick by and I write a short story. I edit my novel. I write a blogpost.
The day always starts. It always will. The work always waits, not going anywhere. But in these quiet hours, I can be a kid at summer again. I can race my bike down a hill. Lie down under the stars with friends.
I have so much to do today. Starting with the dishes. And I need to take the kids out later. They want to see a movie, I think.
But right now I leave them to their dreams. No one is calling. No one is asking. No one is judging. I can focus on myself to have the strength to focus on everyone else later.
In these quiet hours, I drink my coffee and write and remind myself who I am.
And who I will always be.
The kids can sleep.
Those dishes will wait.