I think the most interesting part of my recent retreat was learning that I can, in fact, contrary to previous experience, do the temporary-single-parenting thing and write. Away from my husband for 6 days, away from playdates and email and constant internet access, alone with my energetic toddler most of the time, I still honored my writing promises and edited and created every day. Things that helped make honoring my promises possible: 45 minute naps to the toddler’s 2 hour naps, thereby giving me time alone on the couch by a window with a writing-friendly view such as above. My son’s Aunties, their bunnies, dogs, wit and experience-with-children. Grandma and her zoo dates, museum dates and Pokyo dates and showing up in the evening to bathe the boy, to his delight, giving me a chance to breathe, or power walk, or visit an internet cafe. The beach and my son’s love of it, the ocean’s magic inspiring me. The house we sat, a friendly class-act where my son feels utterly at ease, going right to sleep each evening (though I blame that on his Mama’s vigilance with keeping him outdoors and running around in fresh mountain and ocean air as much as possible).
It’s the sort of house with odd bits, like archways and global decor. Good for a young mind. Good for a tired mama’s mind. Looking up from the laptop, I enjoyed spotting a Russian thingamajig in full cossacky wear, or an Indonesian goddess-type casting her sweeping, serene stone gaze upon the living room, or all the titles and titles of books in all the sunken shelves in almost every room. I kept the doors open during the day so we could hear the patio’s fountain and birds as we read books, or lay down to nap, or as I typed, alone, in the room of my choosing.
I think it helped, our retreat–helped me solidify what I’m doing as a writer. I think it made me see myself freshly, and rediscover personal capabilities thought permanently dulled after two and a half years of broken sleep.
I was, though, nevertheless ecstatic when my spouse showed up on the 6th day, my son and I both responding similarly to his arrival (squeals of delight, kisses, much excited jumping-up-and-down), catching up with each other by heading for (where else?) the beach.
I can do it. I can be a good mother and I can write. I. Can. Do. It. (without a trusty nanny in sight–or, just grandma, next door–which would be nice)