Alone Time

11 07 2008

This is the sort of day where I sit down to write a new entry, only to erase my lead paragraph three times. I try to think of something witty or insightful with which to start, but I draw a blank. And this is what I come up with instead.

It’s been a busy week around here. Liesl’s parents, John and Karla, came for a much-appreciated visit. They surprised Aidan for his birthday, and he ended up having quite the party. For as much as we miss all of our family back in Colorado, it amazed me that here in Pine Haven, New Mexico of all places, he still was surrounded by siblings, cousins, parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents to celebrate his special day. We enjoyed time both at the ranch and in town with the family for a few days, and then said our goodbyes last night to Mom and Dad Turpen. They drove back to Colorado today.

I think I was expecting it to be a little quieter now that there wasn’t so much going on. It was back to the easy-paced schedule of everyday life out here. Nobody coming over, no plans to go anywhere. Should be relatively calm and peaceful, right?

Wrong. Despite having nothing pressing to do, it still seemed a very noisy and busy morning. It continued throughout most of the day. Now, even as I sit and write, the sounds of children complaining about their difficulties eating popsicles and the noise of Scooby Doo blaring from the television (it’s rainy and muddy out today) pervade my thinking. Most of the time, the noisiness of it all proves heartwarming in spite of itself, but whether it’s that I’m in a bad mood or that I’m just more sensitive to it today, it’s lost much of its appeal right at the moment.

Perhaps I am starting to realize that I am desperately missing having some occasional “alone time.” I’m a pretty social person by nature, but sometimes I just need to decompress on my own for a bit. I realized for the first time today that I haven’t had any alone time (that I can think of) since we came down here a month ago.

I used to get some occasional time in the mornings to myself. If I got up early enough, everyone else would still be asleep. I could read, write, work on a music project, whatever. Now, regardless of how early or late they go to bed, the kids get up way too early. And even if I wake up before they do, the fact that we sleep in the same room means that no matter how silent I try to be, at least one of them wakes up anyway and follows me downstairs.

One of the other ways I used to escape for a few minutes was to go to the grocery store. It didn’t always work because I would usually end up taking one of the kids with me, defeating the purpose, but sometimes it was nice to just be lost in a crowd of shoppers for an hour with only my thoughts to keep me company. It wasn’t alone time by any stretch of the imagination, but it was better than nothing.

Today, I’m realizing that no matter where I go here, I can’t do anything alone or uninterrupted. From the moment I get up until the moment I go to bed, there are noisy children and dogs underfoot. Even naptime or early bedtime for the children never seems to work, because it takes more effort to keep them in bed than it does to deal with them while they’re up. The consequence is that the only real time I get to devote to anything that requires my attention or creative energy is usually after 10pm, when I’m so drained that I can only come up with third-rate material.

And there’s nowhere else to go. The nearest… well, anything is a half-hour drive, and gas is so expensive that I can’t justify to myself spending the money to drive without good reason.

It’s not that I want to get away from it all for an extended period of time. I love family life. I love my kids and wife, and I love all that being a father and husband involves. I love the fact that having children is a noisy ordeal, and normally the sounds of them laughing, playing, even crying or fighting bring a smile to my face.

But is it possible to love it and yet sometimes want a short reprieve from it, too? I wish that there were a way to get an hour or two every so often to feel like I’m not completely losing touch with the other things that used to matter to me. I want to write. I want to compose. I want to attempt something difficult that challenges me physically, mentally, creatively, or spiritually. The artist in me is dying of neglect, and I don’t have a good solution yet.

I’m not looking for sympathy, and I’m not looking for advice. Mostly I’m just thinking out loud to myself, and I’m inviting you inside my head while I wrestle through this particular struggle. It will work out somehow. It always does.

It’s just a difficult moment when I find myself wondering, out of all the people I am missing out here, is it possible that one of those people I’m missing the most is… me?

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7 responses

11 07 2008
Mom2

Maybe you and Liesl could be a tag team occasionally. Walk down to the gate or further with book, journal, or sketch pad (can’t help with the music aspect) or can you get into the hogan? Escape there without letting kiddos know or letting them know that you cannot be interrupted while you’re in there? Sorry; I know you didn’t want advice and now I’ve already gone and stepped into it. Love you guys. We had so much fun and miss you already.

11 07 2008
Janna

Well if you’re missing you, then you’re beginning to know how I feel… ;o) I believe alone time is especially important for spirituality. It’s very difficult to hear God speaking to you when you are unable to quiet your ears much less your mind and heart. I’m with Mom2 that figuring out how to take a walk or just sit under a shady tree while Liesl tends the kids is a good start. And remember to then project your current feelings into your wife and try to find a way for her to get some time too. Of course, in her condition, it’s much more difficult to find any truly alone time. :o) I really wish you all were here for the “Life Seasons Project” at TNL. I’ll try to call Sunday and tell you all about it. Kiss the kiddos for me and I love you and Liesl very much.

12 07 2008
Emily S

I know exactly how you feel! The wonderful part is that you and Liesl have each other to help out when that alone time is needed. I can’t imagine what it’s like for single parents who never get time to themselves. We love you guys lots and miss you!

12 07 2008
tigerlilysandybanks

I don’t even have kids and I totally feel the same way. And it’s mostly because of my own guilt. If Ky’s home and not asleep, I usually feel obligated to do something with him, even if I don’t necessarily want to or just want some alone time. But we get such little time together, I think I feel guilty if I don’t. The biggest thing I’m struggling with right now is getting rid of that guilt and just doing it, you know? Just let him know how I feel and let myself off the hook.

12 07 2008
Aunty Penn

Yep. The ‘upside’ of the strawbale house: two rooms. The ‘downside’ of the strawbale house: two rooms. Camping with kids isn’t for wimps. But camping is temporary. The Lord bless you search for more permanent quarters. It’ll help.

17 07 2008
Corrie

Are there any cool trails out there? Maybe you could build a tree house!? Something to challenge you physically, maybe spiritually, maybe mentally? You could do a lot of things in a tree house. And the main thing would be, to be alone. Have you ever tried painting? Maybe on the smoke deck?

18 07 2008
Jenn

Yup… you totally need an early morning walk to yourself. I watched the season finale of “30 Days” and Morgan Spurlock went to an Indian reservation. Every morning the men wake up around 5am and go for a run. I’m not much for running, so maybe a walk would be more realistic for those of us not in that great of shape… but then again maybe you like to run. Either way… it looked so peaceful and nice; they took this hour of time to center, think, send out thanks to God for their lives and the day ahead and connect with nature. I bet you’d like that… even if it was just once or twice a week. 🙂

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