So…I don’t know if I would call this an “ah-ha” moment or a tiny epiphany, but recently…and by recently I mean just a few minutes ago, I made a discovery.
I sort of calculated, albeit loosely, the amount of “alone time” time I actually require/need to feel some semblance of inner-peace. Then I started looking at the amount of “quiet time” I might need each day or even each week to maintain a somewhat reasonable state of homeostasis. To be clear, quiet time does not have to actually be spent ALONE, it just needs to be, well ya know…quiet. Next, I figured sleep into the equation as well, which surprisingly enough falls on the shorter end of what I should refer to as my “Peaceful Enough” spectrum.
Perhaps, I should give you a brief description of what constitutes each of the above variables for ME, because obviously my definition of alone-time and your definition, by all accounts, may be vastly different. Same applies for “‘quiet-time” and “sleep”. So here ya go:
1. Alone-Time: For me to feel like I am having alone time, a few criteria must be met. First and foremost, although I dearly love and cherish my children…they must never, ever, NEVER EVER be present during alone-time or else it becomes 100% null and void, no matter the level of quiet, peace or sleep I may have experienced during that time, it does NOT count. There is not much more criteria…except maybe that NOBODY’S children can be present. (an exception might be a newborn, who is adorable and sleepy and I can snuggle in my arms until it starts to stir) This also affords me the added “bonus peace” that is achieved by secretly basking in the glory of NOT having a newborn! **If newborn is screaming, this “exception” is now also null and void. So, yeah…I can be around adults (certain ones) but must still have the ability to kick back, relax and do whatever the flippity fuck I want, or else it is not considered ALONE TIME.
2. QUIET TIME: Unlike alone time, the criteria for quiet time allows for the occasional presence of children. However, and I am sure you can see where I am going with this, they have to be QUIET!! Now to be clear, a mere few minutes of quiet does NOT count on my peaceful enough scale. I am referencing a particular kind of extended quiet; for example, this may look like, my children are given new video games and they become so sucked into the process, so engrossed in the lights and the sensory assault, that they are rendered speechless for a solid three hour minimum. That counts. Also, not to be confusing but “Quiet time” can also be during an alone time period…but NEVER EVER NEVER shall we consider sleep as part of “quiet time” or “alone time” for that matter, ya know, as it applies to this scale.
Of course, I am well aware that it is traditionally quiet when you are asleep, but in this instance, if I am unconscious, than I can’t appreciate the quiet and therefore…it simply does not count!
3. Sleep: Sleep is… when I am asleep. NOW, That sleep shall be uninterrupted, pain-free, nightmare free and the bed in which it is occurring shall be free of all children. So…if I have a bad dream, I am achy, somebody wakes me up or there is a kid in my bed, then that does not get counted on my peace, calm enough, scale spectrum thingy. Calculated sleep MUST BE the type where I am relatively cozy and wake up refreshed, the actual hours slept don’t matter so much as the above variables do.
**an option I suppose…
O.k, so you get it…those are the specific things I was considering when pondering the calm/peace question. Just exactly how much of all of those things do I need to feel a decent level of inner-peace, calm and homeostasis in my daily life?
Well, to be completely honest, I don’t think I can actually calculate that shit. I can tell you this…My baseline…which is sort of like my absolute bare minimum amount of alone-time, quiet-time and sleep needed for optimal mental functioning, is (I think) on the higher end of the “normal” spectrum. I can’t tell you that for sure, since I haven’t asked anybody else this exact question. So, in all reality I suppose it could be on the lower end of the spectrum.
Here is what I know for sure…I have kids. They are the greatest loves I have ever known. (insert great things about kids here if you are sensitive to speaking the
TRUTH challenges of children) So yeah, kids… they are the loudest creatures I have ever known. They are messy and needy…VERY VERY NEEDY. (I can not over-emphasize this!) Alone time? It does not seem this is a priority for my children. Unless of course, I actually need them to do something WITH me…then they suddenly NEED ALONE TIME. Children are infamous for sleep issues and mine are no different. Now infants, of course they don’t sleep for extended hours. But as time goes by…they tend to sleep more, yet I can’t help but notice, it still it seems that they want to disrupt your sleep.
Now…This can take on many forms…it may be bloody noses, coughing, vomiting, bad dreams, good dreams, fevers, scared of the dark, scared of the light, that scary movie, that scary commercial for that scary movie, that… (insert pretty much anything here) and the infamous, “your bed is just more cozy and I want to snuggle.” (added guilt layer) There are more ways the sleep issue can play out, but you get it and perhaps your living it, so no need to elaborate further. Children, bless their beautiful hearts, have a very high probability of fucking up a perfectly good sleep for a ridiculously extended amount of years. (we are not even going to touch on the sex factor…that is an all together different
shit show subject .)
LOOK…Here’s me with one of my beautiful peace disturbers…
So yeah…the answer to where do I fall on my “peaceful enough” scale? What is the answer? Ummm… FUCK that nonsense…after just writing this post, it has become abundantly clear to me, that YES, perhaps my need for quiet, alone, and sleep time is higher than the average human…or not. BUT, I think I can infer from my hastily collected data…that as a mom, a full-time parent (and yes I have a husband who helps, but he is not the mamma) My data shows…an incredibly high probability that I will be in the negative for those experiences for an unknown and extended period of time. Some nights…that simply feels intolerable, I fantasize about running away to a hotel room, by MYSELF, with magazines and coffee and laying in the bed for days and nights on end, ordering room service, eating it bed and answering to no one!
I fantasize for a moment about flying off to a tiny cottage in Europe, with a cobble stone walk way, a small garden and tea, a cozy simple bed and bistro table for one…I wander about the countryside picking berries and going back to my cottage to plant my flowers (because they’re not going to plant themselves!) and then off to paint in my court-yard that is overlooking the sea.
Ahhhh….as I am alone, in a quiet room, writing this…I feel a sense of peacefulness wash over me. The only thing I hear is the whirring of the ceiling fan and the strokes of the keyboard. I can see the sun peeking through the clouds, as I look out the window from my favorite, most cozy recliner. It’s not Europe, I am not wandering the country side…but it’s a moment damn it… and I’ll take it. So…my reality is this, as a parent, I think it’s safe to say, at least in my case (not speaking for you) I will not be getting my “ideal” levels of peace ,calm or sleep met anytime soon, however, I literally have to work on CLAIMING THE SHIT out of the moments I do find. (which just so happens to be this very second…so, ta ta for now… and may you find and claim some peaceful moments of your own)
Final Disclaimer: I ACTUALLY PUT A REAL PICTURE OF MYSELF ON HERE…SO IF MY THERAPY PRACTICE GOES IN THE SHITTER… I BETTER BE ABLE TO WRITE A BOOK ABOUT THIS.