I Love You, or Thank You for Leaving

Zen Masters don’t have children. There’s just no way.

You can't have both.

You can't have both.

Listen, I am that woman who is so grateful for the opportunity to have this life, and this family. My husband and sons are wonderful and mean way more to me than a clean house. If you saw my house, you would know that.

But I was single until I was 40, and I learned to really enjoy the quiet, the stillness. It was normal. This constant churning of people around me is new and alien.

So now I love it when my husband goes away and takes one of the children with him. Due to certain family logistics, he does this a few times a year for a couple of days at a time. He’s away as I write this.

I still have the little guy, but he’s pretty chill. Besides, he takes two naps a day. I am, for all intents and purposes, working from my own agenda.

I did some dishes this morning. Now they are drying. And nothing else is changing in there.

I go into the other room and pick up crayons that the baby has redistributed around the floor. As I put five in the tin, he pulls two out, so we play that game for a while. Then I give him something with fewer pieces to play with and I finish the task.

I go back in the kitchen. There are no new dirty dishes migrating in. No new crumbs on the counter. I can stand in the doorway and watch the nothing happen. It’s quiet and lovely.

This is what was beyond my imagining, all those solitary years: the simple joy of improving one’s environment while it’s not simultaneously unraveling. Possible with the house full? No, sir.

I wouldn't go back to the aloneness and its friend, loneliness. But it sure is nice to check in with myself, to slow down to my natural pace, and to make a few things in my life a little nicer.

Ok, I'm done with this. They can come back now.

Ok, I'm done with this. They can come back now.