“You’re isolating again” my husband said, referring to the fact that I’d spent a good part of the evening alone in our bedroom. His tone was a mixture of disapproval and concern, as if I was either doing something wrong or something was wrong with me. But, sometimes moms need some time alone.
It makes sense, I suppose, since the term “isolate” tends to carry with it negative connotations.
It refers to being withdrawn from family and friends or spending too much time alone. And for a mother, lack of social interaction can certainly lead to feelings of loneliness and depression.
But sometimes isolation is exactly what a mother needs, at least for me.
It had been a long week, full of early mornings and busy days and late nights. And on that particular evening, I’d had my fill of noise.
I just needed some time alone.
I was overwhelmed by the non-stop racket produced by our kids.
There was the constant motion. The movement of their bodies running from room to room. The stomping up the stairs. The frantic search for me if by chance I happened to be out of their sight for even a moment. The opening and closing of doors as they went from inside to out, then outside to in – over and over again.
There was the constant noise. The sound of my children arguing. And crying. And screaming. And whining. And calling for me. Over and over. They produced an outpouring of questions – most of which I had no answer for – and an ever-flowing stream of narration as they pointed out my every move. Not to mention the continual clamor of toys being tossed about and crashing onto the floor.
It seems like on any given day, there is no time for quiet.
On any given day, there doesn’t seem to be one minute in which my kids aren’t talking, or asking, or begging, or needing, or doing. There isn’t one moment of quiet, not one single second to have one single thought of my own.
And while this is a good thing, while it’s all proof that my children are healthy, thriving human beings, some days it’s just too much. And I cannot keep up. With a tense body, and a brain filled to capacity, I need time to decompress – sometimes multiple evenings in a row – before I crumble or explode.
When I seek refuge in my bedroom, or the bathroom, or even the closet, it’s not because I want to be isolated. It’s simply that I need to be.
There are times, MANY TIMES, that I need a break from it all. Not a long one, but definitely a quiet one. For without the isolation, the whirlwind my kids create will most certainly knock me down. And if I’m down, despite my best efforts, there’s a good chance I’ll take them with me.
It’s times like these when isolation doesn’t equate to seclusion or withdrawal. It simply means I’m taking a time out. To catch my breath. To give my brain time to catch up and my body time to slow down. To catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and remember that I have a name other than Mom.
Sometimes I need to stop so I can keep going.
Sometimes I need to leave the presence of my children so I can return and be more present with them. Sometimes I need a few minutes of hearing nothing so I can listen to all of their important somethings.
And sometimes I need to be all by myself, isolated, in order to appreciate the people who keep me company on a daily basis. Because it’s in the moments alone when I realize even the bad parts of motherhood make life pretty good.