Thursday, February 19, 2015

Worth Waking Up For

Right now, I'm doing something I haven't done in months: starting my day at 4 a.m.

By 10 a.m., I'm going to feel this. And by the 3 p.m., it's really going to hurt. But right now, it's luxuriously peaceful:

Nothing is stirring out there.

Getting up at 4 is something I started when I was still working for Yahoo. At 4 a.m. (mountain time), even the NY office wasn't online yet, and I'd have some quiet time to catch up. But better yet, it was a chance for some solitude before the BHE. That stands for Boy-Household Eruption -- it's an explosive event that begins daily anywhere between 6:45 and 7:30 a.m. and enters it's cool-down phase 12 hours later.

I've now had the little boys out of daycare and been on full-time mom duty for two months. I had designs on being "the best mom ever," but I have to admit, it's hard to maintain one's sanity with the BHE going on all day long. Getting them out of the house to the library, or to rec centre activities, or even just to the grocery store, definitely helps. But right outside our front door, there's a giant barrier that sucks a big percentage of the joy from every out-of-the-house, should-be-fun activity, leaving that activity just a withered husk of we-have-to-do-this-because-it's-good-for-us.

That barrier is called bitter Alberta winter. It requires every inch of child skin be covered, preferably with something big and bulky, before they walk out the door, every kilometre of snow-covered, ice-slicked road be traversed via prayers that you may arrive at your destination without getting stuck or rear-ended, and that a huge portion of daily activities be conducted in the dark.

So, this time of year, especially if you have little kids, virtually every aspect of life outside the house begins to feel like one long, exhausting, unpleasant, and potentially dangerous chore. Many days, we just stay home. And on the positive side, there has been some great industriousness at home:

Mom's Industriousness: 
Building decorative trim for all the downstairs windows.

Peter's Industriousness: 
Sanding under his mother's supervision.

David's Industriousness: 
Waiting until Mom is out of the room, then finding a sharpie he stashed somewhere.

Mom's Industriousness:
Turning spent barley from Chris's brewing into bread.

Peter's Industriousness: 
"Let me help! Let me help!"

David's Industriousness:
"Mom, Peter, look. I'm a zombie."

But, even with opportunities for industry all over this renovation zone, it's hard to keep the boys cooped up all day long. Doing so causes the BHE to become louder, and more violent, and more insanity inducing, as the day progresses.

So over these last two months, adapting to stay-at-home-mom life, there has been no solitude. And no writing. Of course, I've had the intention of writing many times. Blog posts like, "Discovery!!! Good Sushi Exists in Alberta!!!" and "Sooooo . . . They're Actually Picky Because of Me" have begun in the draft folder, and then stayed there.

But, in truth, my lack of writing isn't because I'm too busy or because life with the boys at home is too crazy (although it is pretty crazy!). It's because (in case you couldn't tell from the above) I'm depressed.

Since it's February, I figure many of you can relate. Chris jokes that I'm solar powered, and it's true! Since about December 10th, entering into the truly darkest days of the year, I've had energy and enthusiasm for virtually nothing.

Thankfully, today, the sun will rise at 7:48 a.m. and set at 5:47 p.m. I say "thankfully" because that's a huge improvement from two months ago. On December 21st, the sunrise/sunset times looked like this:

That's a grand total of 7 hours 27 minutes of daylight.

And there are other positive signs on the horizon, too. Today, the temperature is supposed to go above freezing!!! Thank goodness, because in these, the darkest of winter dark days, I've found myself, on almost a daily basis, standing in the kitchen declaring (usually just in my head), "I can't do this again. I can't take another winter. This has to be the last."

Perhaps the lengthening days and promise of warmer temperatures are why, last night, I was finally able to steel my resolve and set my alarm for 4 a.m. Because, I told myself, sometimes you need to take action. You need to do something to break the cycle, to start the day off differently, to force the change you need.

Dear Happy Light,
It's not you; it's me. You've been great.
I just feel unfulfilled somehow -- like I need something more.
I can't force the sun to rise any earlier. I can't force the temperature to climb so I can kick my wild little kids outside, and I can't force those wild little kids to spend two hours drawing peacefully and silently so that I can find some sanity. But I can force myself to get out of bed and create my own space for solitude.

So 4 a.m. . . . yes, it is crazy. But it is also so wonderfully peaceful. And not only am I doing something I haven't done in weeks -- writing -- I'm also enjoying this:

A really great cup of coffee . . . completely by myself. It turns out, that was worth waking up for.

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