I closed the fence of our property, I even removed the tiny sign I’d made for the sometimes-working doorbell on the edge of the gate, which says “Sonnez et entrez” — because this day, I did not want anyone to enter — not even after ringing first. I kept most of the curtains closed, ostensibly to help keep the heat inside, but in reality so that I could simply walk freely within in the house cleaning, organizing, doing creative things or even just relaxing with a book, without being seen and thus interrupted if someone opened the nearly-never-closed gate, and came all the way up to the glass-windowed door.
Each hermit day, I think of friendly little signs I could make to hang on the gate, officially announcing Hermit Time, but I haven’t got around to being quite that eccentric yet. So for now, it’s just closing curtains and removing “Ring and enter” signs. Iterative progress.
In fact, I love drop-by visits more than any other kind; just not on hermit days. And yet, people most often come by on hermit days. I imagine that is because on hermit days, I am alone, so there are not four monkeys bouncing off the sofas and walls, which is understandable and makes perfect sense and I would possibly do the same in their position. Also it’s because, even though I’d prefer to be alone on those days, if someone comes by I am genuinely happy to see them and my IGM welcomes the distraction, and I will certainly and gladly let the someone in, to have a cup of tea and a chat. Thus I have rewarded them for their hermit day interruptions and they will likely come again. The reason I’ve done that is because I love people, I love (herb) tea and I love chatting. And I’m optimistic about what we will chat about — hopefully their own feelings, or ideas, whatever they’ve been up to in their own lives; but hopefully never about the news, other people we know, or what I’ve been up to in my life. (Those topics, of course, are only for when I visit them.)
I decided it was best if I not see anyone, through the door/windows, in the first place, this time. So I closed the curtains.
The problem is that often when people come by, they bring their troubles with them, or just their curiosity or perhaps even just their good intentions to alleviate the loneliness of others, just as I myself do when I go visiting. And though on other days I appreciate that, and am willing to help with that, and be helped by that, on hermit days my brain gets addled by whatever they’ve brought; and my original calm and inspiration for the hermit day is lost, and replaced by something akin to sadness, resentment, frustration or even despair. And well, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” (Words I once saw on a sign in a gift shop window, in a place called Hope.)
It’s not that I wish these persons would not come. In fact I love them (because they are people) and they are part of what makes life worthwhile. It’s that I wish they would come during the time when I could use more company — and that’s not usually when I’m alone.
For a mother, if she has a day or two of the week set aside for getting things done, whether that be laundry or mending or paying bills or sorting though four dressers full of boys’ clothes or trying to figure out what to do with the technology jumble in the corner or editing bits of writing or trying to make space on her over-crowded hard-drive or trying to log on, as requested, to the antiquated and semi-broken client-management system of the volunteer organization she works for, or whether ordering supplies for the latest renovation project or acting as virtual PA to her SO or whether it’s sending letters to family or eating chocolate by the fire or playing piano for less time than she should or obsessively highlighting articles on Medium or scrolling through far too many unwanted ads on Instagram or WHATEVER, well, that’s what that day is for. Whether others like it, or approve of it, or think she de-serves it, or not.
On the other hand, when the kids are home (and on the drive back she has already dealt with the facts that one has injured his hand during wrestling at school, yet does NOT want treatment, another NEEDS the next book in his series from the library NOW, and yet another NEEDS the art set on promo at the local grocery store AT THIS MOMENT, and another is too busy being overwhelmed by the noise and urgent needs of all his brothers to get ANY attention at all), AND dinner needs to be made, teacher-liaison books need to be signed and the herd of cats needs to be drill-sergeanted into hanging up their coats and lining up their shoes and backpacks in the too-small and under-organized entry way, well, THAT is actually a great moment to show up at the door and be let in. At this mother’s house, at least.
How about at your place?
Image by me, for B.U.D.
P.S. I made the image right after writing this blog post. 🙂 Other versions of the image, and a super-quick time-lapse process video, via this post on Instagram.