The dog is at the foot of the bed whining to be let out. She's kinda passive aggressive that way. This is my cue that it is time to put those feet on the floor -- again. Then again, I look out the window and see early morning light which must mean that I have slept past the rising of the sun. A small mercy this busy time of year. I forgive the old girl her moment with a scratch behind the ear and rise.
It is a Sunday. Normally this is a day off. Not just a day off from work, but an every-other-Sunday day off from parenting too. However, today is the second to last Sunday before Christmas. In the world of book selling it is an extended hours, extra staff kinda Sunday. So in a little while I will turn my head from the increasing pile of laundry, swig an extra cup of coffee and hope the mix of ingredients I've thrown in the crock pot make something edible for dinner when I return home. I will open the store at 11:00 a.m. this morning. This is future thinking. Granted short term future thinking. All the same it not this moment, right now.
This moment right now is quiet. I sit at my table with the first cup of coffee, there is the hum of the refrigerator, the snoring of the dog as she has fallen back to sleep (lucky dog) and my fingers tapping on my old laptop.
I am working six days a week. During the week I rise at 5:30 to the bleating of an alarm clock, rouse the fire in the wood stove, fold the laundry I washed a week ago, compile a list of things it would be easy to forget in the haste of these days. The background sound of public radio serves as a reminder that at 7:00 a.m. my son must wake, breakfast should be completed by 7:45 just before the business report, and we should be out the door by 8:00 a.m. if we are to grab a shared moment of quiet.
We sit in the school library with the book I am reading to him and get lost in the pages until the school bell rings. These sentinels of time can be so demanding.
Once in the car I turn the radio off. There is a short drive to work from the school. It is easy during this days of pinball living to not notice the coating of snow on Mount Blue in the distance, the green house erected on the fledgling farm on Route two, the break of sun through these cloudy days we have had.
The car is parked. Quiet. There is a short walk to the coffee shop. Quiet. There is this moment, quite rare these days, after I unlock the doors of the shop when I walk into the store alone, the lights are off, the computers have not been turned on. Quiet. More often than not now there is a customer at the door and the phone is ringing and my first task before taking my coat off is to turn on the computers. All day I discuss books I've read during more quiet times of the year. I answer phones, run errands for the store, ignore the quiet ache that settles into my feet, perfect my corner folding in gift wrapping.
Finally 7, 8, 9 hours later I turn the sign on the door. Quiet. Rush to day care to pick up my son, run to the grocery store for milk and dog food. Step through the door at home and scurry to feed the dog, stoke the fire, take off my shoes." Pick up your back pack. What do you have for homework?"
I crack the top of the crock pot and smell the venison and rosemary steam. Quiet. The boy leans into me as I read another chapter before bedtime. Quiet. I collect the mismatched socks from his floor and put them in the laundry basket. I wash a few last dishes. Quiet. I pick up the book that sleeps on the pillow on the other side of the bed and read a chapter. Quiet.
Life will settle down soon. I make promises to myself to realign self-care after the New Year. Paint my toe nails, get a hair cut, go for a long walk. This moment is busy. Sometimes too busy. As a single parent, sometimes there is no choice in this state of affairs. When extra work comes, I have to take it: bills to pay, car repairs, a little cushion. For now, in this moment at the end of a long day, I go into my son's room after he has fallen asleep. I watch the slow rise of the blankets as he sleeps. I touch his soft curls and I enjoy this moment of quiet.