It’s 5.30am and I’m at my desk. If you had told me five years ago I’d willingly get up before 6am I would have struggled to believe you but here I am.
The birds are not yet singing but if I listen very carefully I can hear the distant hum of other early risers. Mostly cars already on their way to work. Not on our street though. Before 6am when my husband wakes up, it’s just me and the silence, until I fire up my laptop and add the tap of the keyboard to my morning music.
I sit for a moment, soaking up the silence. I reflect on the previous day, or week. Sometimes I allow myself to get caught up in an unhelpful train of thought but I usually leave that for the evening after a long day. In the morning I am kinder to myself. Today I am thinking about how I mothered in anger yesterday morning, storming off and refusing to listen to the reasons behind my four-year old’s challenging behaviour. Excuses I called them, and sent him away.
I reflect that the behavior needed addressing but wish I gave another response. That was yesterday though. That afternoon I listened and empathized and he felt heard. His behaviour that evening then reflected this and we were all much calmer.
Today is a new day.
I’ve only been sitting down for a few minutes and I notice how much my mind jumps around. I’m not a morning person and up until recently, I couldn’t rise even if I tried. I had regular wake up calls at around 2am, being up for the day at 5am most days. I used to wonder if we’d ever sleep through the night again. We do now. I think, this too shall pass, as I navigate his recently heightened anxiety, as I hope it is only temporary, as I remind myself to focus on the roots of the challenges and not react. This sensitivity will be a strength as he matures.
So much has changed this past year for us both. I am lucky I do work that I love every day. Sometimes doing what you love can still feel like work. A lot of work. It’s worth it. I was raised to always be the best, which I took to mean everything must be perfect. It took a while to let go of that one (and I’m still working on it) but a strong work ethic is not a bad thing to have when you work for yourself. My mum always said, “I just want you to be happy. You must do what makes you happy.” I suppose there is balance between those two messages and I am closer to the middle now, more than I ever have been. I am thankful for both messages and that I’ve had the support I needed to let go of the less helpful interpretations I used to hold onto so tightly.
I want to model better self-care for my son. To show him that work doesn’t always have to feel like work. That if you follow your dreams, keep taking steps towards them and surround yourself with people who lift you up, it is possible to enjoy all of life. Not to find a balance between work and life but to find balance in life, which includes work. There will be times it’s a bit shit, but that’s ok.
Shit is fertiliser for the good stuff.
I try to stop thinking and focus a while on my breath instead. Thoughts still float past me – is my sister feeling better? Did my friend’s plane land safely? I should call my Nan today. How much time will I have to write if I sit here too long? I grab hold of the last thought and can’t let it go so the meditation is over. I’ll try again tomorrow. There is always tomorrow.
I decide today will be about creating and move to my desk. My mind wanders as my laptop screen lights up and I wait for it to load. What will I write this morning? I’m looking forward to this time. I love my work but this? This is not work. This is just for me. I’m writing to exorcise demons, to share dreams, to create alternate realities. I’m escaping into myself. As much as the meditation – often even more so – this is my time. I open up a blank page and start to type. Before I know it half an hour has passed. I have an idea of what I’ve written but it’s barely conscious and I expect it to be rubbish but when I read it back it’s not too bad. Revealing, but not bad. I breathe, bringing myself back into the room. Noticing that I didn’t even hear the shower but my husband must be up and dressed by now.
When I tell people that I get up early to write some get it. Others say it sounds like work and wonder why I don’t have the extra hour in bed. That’s the thing about me-time. It’s not the same for everyone and this is what works for me, for now. I sleep until my son rises during the weekends. Weekday mornings, I write.
The birds are singing now. I tiptoe into his room and open the curtains. It’s still dark outside so I turn the light on, low. He’s a light sleeper, like me. He’ll stir soon enough. I sit beside his bed and watch him, gently stroking his cheek until his eyes flicker as he crosses the line from his dreams to early morning reality, and me. He opens his eyes and looks at me, a half-smile on his lips. We stay there like that for a while, until one of us breaks the silence. “Nice and peace and quiet” he whispers. This is our time now.