An hour ago the kitchen was a whirlwind of hats, scarves, tissues, biscuits, bits of apple, discarded toast-with-nutella, tiny walking boots, oversized lunchboxes and piles and piles of nappies. And in the middle of it all a deeply nervy Mama.
Now, a short sixty minutes later, all is silent apart from the distant flick-flack of the washing machine and the crackle of the fire in Mathilda. The children are gone. Their father is gone. And, all being well, gone they will remain.
For a week.
A whole week!
Can you imagine what this might mean to a person who has not been alone for more than three hours in 19 months? Can you imagine what this might mean to a mother who has put her daughter to bed every day of her short life, and who won't be doing it tonight? Can you imagine what this might mean to someone whose life has for three years and four months been a constant round of breastfeeding, nappies, laundry, mad dashes to feed the chickens while the babes are asleep, faddish mealtimes and toddler tantrums, to say nothing of the kindergarten blues, the sick-kid greens and the nappy-rash reds?
You know, I'm so confused in the face of this extravagant freedom, I've no idea what it does mean. Last night my dreams were full of loss, of not being able to reach my crying baby, of being on a bus going nowhere. Today, I don't know whether to jump up and down with exuberance or to let my heart spill over and have a little weep.
And what policy should I take towards this sudden excess of usable time. Should I industriously clean the house? Should I organise the baby clothes? Should I get the electricians in to sort out the wiring and electrify the one-third of the house that's still in the dark ages. Should I study, read and write? Should I have a holiday?
When I first came to Carmine Superiore, I loved it for its spirit of solitude. Not the heavy, bow-your-head-down kind of solitude so common in big cities, but a solitude that brings a lightness of spirit, allows you to see the beauty in tiny things and the tranquility in the turning of the seasons. And one thing I do know is that this week I should enjoy the solitude I have missed for so long.
Milan Kundera wrote that solitude is the "sweet absence of faces". For me it is the absence of the sweet faces of my husband and my little ones. And like any mother and lover, I find such solitude both disturbing and wonderful.
Safe journey my precious ones. Have fun and come back safely.
Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007, 2008. All rights reserved. Please ask first.