Thursday, October 18, 2007

what we do in the dark

You'd like to think you could be productive there, in the dark with your child, like you're productive in the car, radio off, sitting in traffic, or waiting for a friend at a restaurant. You'd like to keep thinking and be creative, imagine and dream and plan. Because it's not like you're active, exactly, as she's falling asleep. It's not like your mind is occupied with anything that could be counted or quantified. So you'd like to think that time in the dark could be filled.

You'd like to, but you can't.

It is an emptied--if not empty--time.

It is a time to be still, to let the complete dark of the room surround you, seal your eyes with velvet curtains and drapes with just the lone green light of the monitor. It is a time to use the dark as the wine you wish you could drink. It is a time to count your daughter's fluttery breaths and the light touches of her arms. Or, it is a time to endure her pinching, to work on the patience it requires to nurse a child down to sleep. It is a time to let go of your plans, because they are out in the other room, in the artificial lights we created, and they must wait until your child is asleep.

It is a time of terror, if we are honest with ourselves, and we realize just what it means to let go of our plans and dreams and distractions. It is a time of panic, sometimes, when you realize there are no guarantees with children, that they could take five minutes to nod off, or you could be there--perhaps--all night. It is a time to be afraid that the patience you practice each night will not be enough, that the hours will pass too slowly. It is a time to feel the weight, that cold lead, of the knowledge that you are the first and last defense your child has against the icy bitterness that somehow we people seem to leach into the air.

It is a time of rest. It is a time of quiet. It is a time of stillness. It is a time of warmth, and becoming accustomed to a child's soft arms wrapped around your arm. It is becoming aware and awake, even as your child falls asleep. It is perhaps the first time you will be able to fall asleep with a human in your arms.

It is an every night time, long time solitary discipline, is what it is.
It is the last thing we want to do every evening, and is sometimes it is the last thing we do.

So no, you will not be productive, there in the dark, not if productivity is your goal. You will not be able to forget what you are doing, or will your mind elsewhere, like you can at almost any other time. There is something about the dark--the dark that contains your child's dreams--that prevents your thoughts from leaving.

No comments: