It stretches, an infinity before my eyes. The magical time on a Sunday afternoon when no pressing concerns push me to go anywhere in particular.
The sun is in the sky. The breeze is in the leaves. The dog is lying somewhere warm. The kids are happily watching a movie.
And I have time. Freedom. For hours – what, OK, not hours hours, not like a full day or anything crazy like that. But maybe two, three hours? During which, yes, some of the quotidian chores will have to intrude. The washing, the landscaping, the prepping of food, the packing for the drive home after dinner.
It’s not Freedom with a capital F, you understand. For my liberty is forever limited by the obligations of motherhood the same way the painting on your living room wall is limited by the size of its frame. Motherhood frames me, whether I like it or not. Which I don’t. But it does, relentlessly, and never more powerfully than when I try to break free of it, if only for five minutes.
They are rare, those few precious moments of freedom. I stand in front of 120 or possibly 180 gloriously free minutes like a man who’s inadvertently ambled over to the edge of the Grand Canyon and arches back with a mixture of awe and horror on his face.
All this space! All this space… how beautiful and scary. And dangerous; for what will become of me if I do not manage this emptiness properly? Will I fall headfirst to my doom? Or simply spend my freedom gaping at the abyss, frozen by the inability to choose and act after so many years of never having to make decisions about what to do next because there was always more that was urgent than minutes at my disposal to deal with what needed attention?
There is no way of knowing. But there is only one way to find out. So I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and dive in.
As my feet leave the earth, I am in disbelief. Can I actually be flying? Maybe. How would I know? I feel like the coyote suspended in mid-air – and I probably have the same stupid look on my face, too. Will the road runner get me this time, too? Or will I be able to get my way? On one side, so much pain and humiliation. On the other… who knows?