Always Real

A Quiet House

Saturday afternoon, Antique Daddy and Sean left to go to Tuna to visit Memaw and Papa George. Normally I go with them, but I was sorely in need of a long stretch of quiet time to work on a couple of writing projects.

I am not wired to be with people all the time. I like to be alone. I like quiet. I like order. Being a wife and a mother has been an adjustment for me. A joy to be sure, but an adjustment.

I waved goodbye as the car pulled out of the driveway. When they were out of sight I went back in the house and shut the door behind me. It was the first time in years that I had the house all to myself and I was ready to embrace my solitude.

Although they had been gone for less than five minutes, the house already felt different to me. Rather than a peaceful respite, it felt empty.

My Godparents lived across the street from me when I was growing up. They moved to Florida when I was ten. I remember going into their house after the new family moved in. It felt odd and unnatural. It didn’t smell the same.  It was the same house, but not. My Grandpa Joe died that same year. When I saw him in his casket, it looked liked him, but the warmth and being that made him who he was, was gone. That’s how my godparent’s house felt to me after they moved, like a corpse that another soul with nicer furniture had taken over.

* * * * *

Before I could begin working on my writing projects, I had to first make all the beds, pick up all the toys, fold and put away all the laundry, empty and reload the dishwasher, scour the sink, pay all the bills, file all the statements and straighten up my desk.

And then I sat on the sofa and enjoyed the absolute quiet and the certain knowledge that everything was in its place for the first time in more than four years.  My soul rejoiced.  I sat there for a full fifteen minutes enjoying it just in case it was another four and half years before it happened again.

I drank pot after pot of coffee and typed and deleted words all weekend. I occasionally looked up and marveled at the order that I so love. I delighted that everything was in its place, that I could open my desk drawer and my scissors would be there.

The quiet and order gave me great joy because I know that it’s just for a weekend. Temporary solitude and order is a sweet and healing blessing. Permanent solitude and order is a curse that I never want to know again.

Now I’m ready for those two boys to bring some disorder and life back into this corpse of a house.

38 thoughts on “A Quiet House

  1. How can it be that you’re so good at expressing what I feel? I have a long commute to my job as an English professor, and once a week I stay overnight after a late class. Sleeping alone in the hotel room, where I won’t be awoken by either the boy or the dog, is a treat — but it turns out I don’t want that kind of treat very often.

  2. I know just what you mean. I LOVE my empty house — for not very long. And I do love when order stays that way for more than 10 minutes. But 20 minutes is bordering on too long!

  3. Thank you for saying it so well: sometimes our souls just need quiet. Peace and quiet. It’s not that we don’t love the hustle and bustle of others…we just need time alone as well. And sometimes I feel guilty for wanting it. Then I think how refreshed and rejuvinated I feel after drinking in the solitude and down and alone time. Hope the reunion is a huge celebration for you all !

  4. I, too, enjoy solitude. But I rarely spend it organizing. I actually can’t recall the last time I had the house to myself. Probably when Husband went to work out just before Anja was born…and an entire weekend? I don’t know that I’ve ever been alone for an entire weekend…

  5. Ah, yes. . .the weekend of solitude that begins with work, work, work. Glad you enjoyed the order and the quiet. I know when the kids are gone to a family member’s home for a night or two, I love the anticipation of not having to cook for anyone or help anyone, but I miss them terribly while they are gone.

  6. Like you, I’ve found the lack of solitude to be the biggest challenge of motherhood. My daughter is seven, and I work from home, but that’s a different kind of alone.

    Each year VG and VD go off on a father-daughter camping trip and I look forward to that weekend very much. But for those of us who waited EXTRA long to become moms, that solitude is only sweet for so long!

    Sounds like you made the most of your time so you’ll feel really ready to have your men back again.

  7. I’ve always seemed to need more “alone time” than any other people I know, and haven’t had more than a 4-hour stretch or so in more years than I can count. (hmmm, my “alone time” was when I used to hike, and now I’m incredibly fat – any connection?)

    But my husband and daughter are going on an overnight campout next month and I’m looking forward to it! I don’t think I’d want it to be too often at this point, but I could do with a day or so every month.

  8. I would do the same thing you did–clean the entire house before I could sit down and do the thing I was supposed to be doing. It’s hard to work on the computer when there’s other work staring me in the face.

    I remember when my kids were little and my husband would take them somewhere. Even if it was a trip to the hardware store, and they would be gone for just a few minutes, I relished being in my own house ALONE. What a treat.

  9. Ah yes. I can really relate. I love it when they’re gone, but not for too long. I love it when they come home. I’ve changed over the years, learned to snatch tiny moments of solitude and have that be enough, rather than the long peaceful hours I used to require.

  10. I am so the same way! I have a 17 month old son and sometimes I just need for Daddy to take him and GO SOMEWHERE. My husband travels alot (he;s a Christian musician) but when he’s home he’s developed a habit of taking Cohen to get coffee with him in the morning for an hour or so… whew! The quiet is better than a bubble bath!

  11. Amen.

    I was having similar thoughts this weekend. We went on a family trip to the North Shore of Minnesota (along Lake Superior). It was fun but crazy (three young children), and a part of me kept wishing my husband and I could make the trip alone sometime.

    But then I thought about how empty we would feel as we passed the alpine slide and how much we would miss watching the kids skip rocks on the shore. And I changed my mind.

  12. Glad you were able to get some alone time. It’s kind of like diving into a clear pool on a hot day: it’s so refreshing, but you eventually have to come up to breathe again.

  13. “I am not wired to be with people all the time. I like to be alone. I like quiet. I like order. Being a wife and a mother has been an adjustment for me. A joy to be sure, but an adjustment.”

    I feel exactly the same way. My husband can’t understand my need to have some time to myself every once in a while, but he knows how I am when I don’t get it, so he obliges.

    Great post.

  14. I can remember, vividly, the first time I was alone in the house after my baby was born. He was three months old and it was election day 1989, I went to run an errand and left my baby and husband at home. When I returned, the house was empty-at first I panicked and then realized where they were–my husband took my son to vote. I was all alone in my house for 15 minutes. It was bliss. I don’t think it happened again for a few years.

  15. You’ve just written the story of my life. One weekend per month…every month…since our boys joined scouts and started going on weekend campouts. The days leading up to their actual departure are full of nagging and losing and finding and packing. And the destruction left in the wake of their leaving is monstrous and defeating. But after order is restored I, too, rejoice in how easily I slip back into the “single life” where all my stuff is exactly where I put it. Of course, now that two of them don’t live here anymore I can say that the disorder is less intense. And what I’ve exchanged for the increase in organization is the warm presence of my two older sons. And that’s when winning seems to feel a lot like losing. Great post.

  16. My husband & I are empty-nesters now. We were visiting with our oldest daughter at her new apartment recently. This is the first time she hasn’t had a roommate. She was telling us how nice it was to clean up an area and know that it would still be clean next time she was there.

    Chris, my husband, said, “That’s the way it’s been since those people moved out. What were they called? Oh yeah,…children.”

  17. Instead of getting exasperated when things are out of order in my house because of my husband or boy, I think, “If I lived alone, these things would NOT be out of place.” And this thought makes me glad for the boys in my life.

  18. I am not a person who likes quite or alone time! Now I do with 3 small children appreciate the time I get to occasionally go shopping alone. Glad you had a nice weekend!

  19. Like you, I need some alone time, but after a weekend, I’m ready for my babies (all 3 of them) to be back home.

    But as for me and my house, we will live with lack of order. I’m sure that”s in the Bible…

  20. I would love to have some solitude, I really need it to recharge but haven’t been able to get more then short bursts in quite a while. I love my children dearly but a quiet house for an entire day (or even a few hours) would be most appreciated 🙂

  21. Just this past weekend, my hubby and I took a half day off work on Friday to go out of town, just the two of us. Planned to stay in a motel about 35 miles from home and go on to another place on Saturday morning to spend the day. We got to the first destination and spent the afternoon just visiting a couple “antique” shops and lounging around the room doing nothing. Later in the evening, I told him if we decided to just go on back home the next morning, that would be ok, that our time had already been so good and relaxing. And that’s exactly what we did. My son asked why we even went anywhere to begin with. But that little while was all it took to rejuvinate.

  22. I hear ya. I’m taking all three kids with me to the coast next week…leaving hubs at home for FOUR DAYS. He will NOT know what to do with all the silence, and we are both people who Need Silence. He’ll go mad, I just know it.

  23. I’ve heard a lot of “Oh you must be looking forward SO MUCH to next year!” because my wee baby girl will be starting school and I’ll have whole days to myself.

    No. I am not.

  24. Oh my goodness! I do that! I LOVE to clean an empty house. And it ‘everything’ has to be done before I can sit down and relax. And oh how wonderful it is to be able to enjoy my efforts without anything being disturbed. Love it!

    If I’m ever home on a sick day – I have to clean the house before I can curl up on the couch and rest. It’s crazy!! I can be faint and week, but I’m making sure the house gets tidied – just so I can rest better. 🙂

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