The first Monday of the semester begins today for my college daughter.
As fate, cold, and Covid would have it, we had to change her flights from leaving on Friday to leaving in the too-dark-for-anyone hours from our home to drive up to the airport. She flew out this morning, it is still cold, still covid but the winter storm of last week has emerged to just bitter cold and sunshine this morning.
After a quick breakfast while her father prepared himself to do the drive, I made myself a cup of Rooibos tea at 3:30am. It was too early to be awake, even without acknowledging daylight savings time, and honestly, I was beginning to feel the exhaustion.
Once they were pulling out of the driveway, I turned off the lights, climbed the stairs, let some Netflix watch me, and went back to sleep until my youngest daughter and last child rose for the week.
Thankfully, all she wanted from me was one of my cups of coffee, "no butter, though, mom."
Since she turned eighteen on December 1st, one of the things her Dad promised her was a car. It came just before Christmas Day so she had the independence over holiday break that she desired. Having a car and figuring out her commute time, she was preparing to leave at 6:45m.
Then I just stood in my kitchen for a moment.
It was not yet 7am.
I am on a privately funded writing, reading, and researching sabbatical for the semester, so unlike the first real Monday a year ago, I don't have a nonsensical meeting to attend. I only had myself and my own agenda.
It was quiet.
The kind that knows there has been a shift in the atmosphere, someone is not there and won't be back for a while.
It happened after Turkey Day when my youngest son was here with his love heart. I felt a slight vacuum but knew they would be back.
We had a month from holiday-to-holiday of non stop activities - milestone birthday, concerts and concerts, college girl coming home - literally Christmas Eve getting and decorating a tree - to the Epiphany that was also the one year anniversary of the unthinkable. All while Covid decided it wasn't finished sending the message the collective we forgot.
I felt like my body hadn't rested, hadn't stopped.
Me being new to my state, I haven't had a chance to really meet and engage with people to form friendships, not the way my daughter has or my husband. My sorority members and I are playing it safe with Covid, so no gatherings, so I spent most of the time attending to my family.
They have my heart and my love, so I did the things I do for and with them.
We had joyous meals and cakes I made, went out to family outings -safely - and enjoyed the noise of being. A full house of memories and a few flashbacks to when I couldn't even wrap my mind around my youngest one coming of age in the early second decade of a new century. Where did time go?
This holiday season was my first when all five of my children were adults.
I was able to engage with them in a different way.
And in so doing, begin discovering myself, anew.
I'm no longer responsible for anyone's day-to-day everything. Legally, my last daughter is a senior. while she is actually still dependent on us, she has her own time, her own car, and a very long list of activities that made that car necessary for her last year of high school. I don't have to set my writing and research schedule around 2pm when I would leave to pick her up and 3pm when I had to drop her off at her activities or 5pm to pick her up and drop her off for more than ended at 8pm.
Time was given back to me.
What do I do with it?
I have plenty and since I've structured my life to be in rhythm of my early-rising-nature, my to-do is usually over with plenty of daylight left. After thirty-five years of parenting and fixing my work life for necessity and not always purpose, I am reaching into those parts of myself waiting for me to hear her.
So when everyone left this morning, I resisted to urge to be productive, to do something, to prove my worth, to do any of the to-dos that sometimes rattle so much noise on women.
I chose to stand still, holding my coffee, looking at the closed door to the garage and smiling.
Turning on my heels, I pivoted away from anything that seems like work - washing sheets and blankets after the kids have all left, Monday morning towels, even loading her breakfast plate. I moved away from the love labor that has allowed my family over the past nineteen years to reach into parts of themselves without an obligation in its way. It gave them space to dream.
Dreaming is what had me standing still in my kitchen, looking at the door. Doors that open and doors that close. Emily Dickinson came to mind about dwelling in possibilities.
It briefly had me close my eyes and think would productive thing I could do, after all, that is how we are conditioned. Then, I changed my mind, held my warm creamy latte with lemon and brown sugar, pivoted, and walked upstairs. I snuggled in my warm comfy bed, surrounded by my items of work and creativity, letting the crisp chill of the falling temperatures invite me further into the recesses of my comforter.
I didn't have to put on clothes yet and didn't have to attend to anyone but me.
Some would call that privilege, others would call that entitled, or even spoiled.
As a Black woman who used to be up and out of my house by 6am with two toddlers in tow to catch the morning bus before work, I call it - earned.
I'm not sure what will happen in the world around me today as all of us continue to navigate the effects of Covid on everything in our lives, but for one day, I chose to let this Monday be my unspoken and unaccounted for day.
In the quiet still of my unspoken day, all I can hear is my evolution.