The Family Bed
The new book is going very well. I have just got back from a few days of sun where the Smalls and I had a hilarious time. I am usually the mother who watches, but this time I jumped in. I paddle-boated, mini-golfed, lion-safari'd. When three cars ahead of us let their children hang out the windows and sunroof in the lion bit, despite warnings to keep everything closed every few feet, I even suppressed a secret hope that the lions may decide they were a very tasty pre-lunch snack. I am obsessively loving being the proud new owner of a flock of chickens (although Nugget - a rather manky black Bantam Silkie is, we have decided, slightly evil). My life is very good. And yet a few days ago I found myself telling a friend I was concerned about Depression.
'What Depression?' they, not entirely unreasonably, frowned, before pointing out I had spent the last twenty minutes talking about how much I am enjoying the writing, how much fun I am having with the kids, how good, in short, life is right now.
None of which I could argue with, but the problem of late has been that I can't get out of bed.
My friend shrugged. What was I doing in bed? Was I alone? Was I sleeping? Well, no. Sometimes I'm alone, often I'm with Beloved, and sometimes a whole flock of Smalls. (No, not the chickens. I love them, but even I have to draw the line somewhere). There is always at least one cat, and usually two. Books are scattered all over the bedspread, because as much as I love my Kindle for travelling, I am so much happier with a book when home. An iPad is there somewhere, with some magazines and a remote control just in case I get the urge to spend a rainy afternoon watching the entire series of Brothers & Sisters. Or Damages. Or What About Brian. At least one cup of coffee is on the nightstand, often more. I do try not to eat in bed, but only because the crumbs drive me potty. Headphones and speakers are there should I decide today's the day for a meditation, and a pencil and pad for when inspiration strikes.
In Summer I throw open the doors to the terrace to hear the birds chirping, occasionally catching a glimpse of the flock of green parrots that live in the trees around here, and in winter I turn on the (gas) fire and lamps that cast a warm, apricot glow.
Although we use every inch of Figless Manor, the one place that feels like it is truly a haven is our bedroom, the place I retreat to when I'm jumping off the grid and taking some time for myself. When I'm in the bedroom, that's as good as me being at a spa with no cell phone service. By all means drop in unexpectedly, but if you don't find me on the first floor, leave a note and I'll call you when I'm back to my regular program. Whatever you do, don't even think about walking up those stairs...
Let me be clear here: I do get out every morning. I am up, and dressed, and at the writing room getting those words on the page, and after that I am running around doing whatever errands need to be done. The problem is when I get back home. There's always an hour or two before the Smalls start filing in, their backpacks occupational hazards as they are dumped in the middle of the kitchen floor, wet shoes kicked off wherever, the phone immediately ringing with other people's children requesting playdates; there is always an hour or two before I jump in the car to become chauffeur for the afternoon, making snacks, ferrying children back and forth, attempting to cook dinner somewhere in between; there is always an hour or two before my life becomes utter madness.
Every day I have the potential for an hour or two of peace. If I'm in the main house, someone will find me. Whether it's a cleaner, a fed ex man, even a solicitor, the chances are that hour or two won't really be time for me, time that is, I'm increasingly believing, essential to me being able to do all that I do every single day of my life. A couple of years ago I blogged about the rhythm of life, after reading these words from the wonderful Sarah Abell in the Daily Telegraph, about how busy women do it all: "I've observed others with better balance in their lives than I have, and I've noticed that what they have is rhythm. Their lives aren't filled with a constant stream of activities. Rather, they are punctuated by periods of peacefulness...They are also, interestingly enough, the people who seem to get the most done when they are active."
Although my bed fixation may be unusual, I now realise it doesn't mean I'm necessarily in desperate need of a lifetime supply of anti-depressants. I think it mostly means I shouldn't have made our bedroom quite so damn beautiful. And that I'm gearing up for the mayhem I know lies ahead.
On that note, I'm just going upstairs to get a sweater, and if that bed starts whispering my name, I won't feel guilty about climbing on and watching a little television. Just one show. Oh maybe two. Okay, okay, but I draw the line at five.