When I was a single mother with young children, night-time was my special ‘me’ time. Days were busy and noisy and, being an introvert, I found that by the time my children were in bed I was completely drained of energy.
But instead of heading off to bed myself - which would have been the sensible thing to do - I would stay awake and savour the quiet. I felt an affinity with the darkness outside and would take comfort in knowing that I could take my time, unwind and feel the tension of the day drift off my shoulders and away. It may sound a little corny and clichéd, but being a young widow and raising three small children on my own was difficult. I needed that time to recover, re-group and prepare myself for the next day.
It was during these quiet hours that I would write. Back then it was mostly a release of the multitude of negative feelings I was experiencing, sadness, self-pity, even dread. I didn’t realise it at the time but it was a kind of therapy that slowly helped me to heal.
I was going through old paperwork today and came across some of the things I had written at the time. Those words made my heart ache for the struggling young mother I was back then, trying to hold everything together and fearing that I was doing it all wrong. The angst and worry that plagued me through those first few years was poured out in journal entries, poems, sketches and long rambling confessions of guilt that I wasn’t measuring up.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
One particular sketch showed me walking a steep, winding path, holding my children’s hands and leading them along. There were deep ragged caverns either side and in parts the road was cracked and crumbling. Along the way there were paths and doorways with signs that read, ‘Uncertainty, predictability, responsibility, poverty, loneliness…’. I was shocked to look back and see how negative my view on life was.
Another sketch showed me in a store with a shopping trolley, scratching my head in bewilderment. On the shelves were boxes of varying sizes labelled with words like ‘kids, marriage, house, job, responsibility, bills, escape and solitude.’ Underneath I had written, ‘If only it was this easy – to be able to choose and keep what you have chosen, or to take some of it back and exchange it if you’re not happy.’
Image courtesy of Public Domain Pictures / Colleen P Moyne
Looking back now, I know that I needed that time and that opportunity to write in order to survive a tough time. I also know that I did a good job raising my children under difficult circumstances. They are all grown now with children of their own and I’m in a very happy place. Keeping these ramblings from a darker time in my life makes me grateful that I not only survived the journey, but that I grew from it and became a stronger, more resilient woman because of it - and a better writer, too.
I still stay up late at night and write, but these days my words are happier and more positive. I only hope that they might touch others out there who need encouragement to make it through a difficult time.
I too savour the peace of night-time and with a coffee or two under my belt, am filled with excited anticipation that I can do what I love most - reading and writing.
You write beautifully, Colmo, and I always enjoy reading your articles.
Late at night has always been my best time for writing even though my life experiences have been different from yours, Colmo. I love knowing I can just write. There are no more meals to prepare for the day. The housework is done (well what I decided to do, housework is never all done in my house}. There shouldn't be any interruptions. Many is the time I've stayed up later then I should and I have written poems about that. I find I am more creative at night because I am a night person rather than a morning person.