Out of the Ivory Tower

Over the past couple of months, with the general busy-ness of Christmas, work at home and vile weather outside, I haven’t been out much. I used to go to playgroup, but since Daniel started nursery it’s been one of those things I’ve been meaning to do. I haven’t met up with friends much, for the same sort of reason.

I’ve had human contact, with family. I’ve had fairly constant contact with people around the world, on Twitter. But on the whole, I’ve been kind of shut away from the world in my little tower with my family. This is very much a double-edged sword.

For one thing, with Andrew being off work for Christmas we’ve had some much-needed time together. We’ve been able to help each other rest when nights have been bad; we’ve been able to back each other up. We’ve had peace and protection from the rude interruptions of the outside world. It’s been precious, wonderful time.

On the other hand, this time has warped our perception of some things. When the only three year old you really see is your own, the tantrums are unreasonable, his behaviour is unacceptable, no other mother is so put-upon. But then that’s not so bad, because your three year old is also a genius, an artist, a prodigy. Your baby is streets ahead of everyone else’s, which is quite astonishing since no other baby in the world sleeps as little as she does.  Your home is probably the messiest place on the face of the earth, the ironing is an insurmountable mountain that is probably hiding the Marie Celeste in there somewhere.

This week I came out of the Ivory Tower. I finally took Emily to playgroup, and she took off. Her face was breathtakingly beautiful in its reactions – the world was her oyster. But she was one of many, just another baby crawling around, taking life at their own pace. Today I had lunch with a friend, then went round to her house and spent a couple of hours chatting. Talking about the children’s behaviour (her daughter’s the same sort of age as Daniel), talking about our church (we’re in the same house group), talking about nurseries and holidays and husbands. And what did I get reminded about? Daniel is not the most unreasonable child in the world, nor the cleverest – he’s just a three year old. A house with two children in it has stuff lying around – that’s the way it is. Laundry dries on radiators – it doesn’t get sorted by the Magical Laundry Fairy. My life is average – no better, no worse than anyone else’s.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in what’s going on in the Ivory Tower. Of course your own home, children, family are absorbing, it would be worrying if they weren’t. But I need perspective. And for that I need actual, face-to-face human contact. It’s hard when you’re shy; you don’t want to impose, you get stressed about social situations, you worry about what you’re going to say, if you manage to say anything. The Ivory Tower is so much safer. Unfortunately, it’s not all that healthy. It’s not good for writing – what kind of material can I generate when the person I spend most of the day with can’t even talk yet? It’s not good for my grip on reality. Give it much longer and I’ll be sitting in the cot sucking on a rusk. So I am going to try coming out of the Ivory Tower, in tiny baby steps, and squinting at the sunshine of the real world.

I give it two weeks. 😉