#SOL20 Day 24: Built For This

My mom and I were chatting about parenting during today’s “shelter in place” order. She remarked on how, with four children, there’s no way she would have been able to keep two of my siblings at home.

I couldn’t disagree. My oldest sister and my brother were never the compliant type growing up. But my other sister and me? We would have cooperated – for completely different reasons.

My older sister is a rule follower’s rule follower. As the second of four children, and sandwiched between two kids who weren’t about that whole “obey the rules” thing, she took it upon herself to be The Good One. So her choice to stay at home back then would be (as it is now) entirely based on Doing The Right Thing.

But me? I joked with my mom: “I was BUILT for this. It’s like I have been preparing my whole life just for this!” We had a good laugh together, because we both knew how true it was.

When I was young, I spent a lot of time by myself. Sometimes, I would hang out in my room reading books, doing puzzles, or listening to music. Other times, I’d walk out my front door and go exploring, either in the neighborhoods or the forested area near me.

Either way, I would happily occupy myself for hours at a time.

(OK, so maybe it didn’t help that I only ever had one friend at a time, so I had to get used to spending time with the one and only me, but that’s a digression for another day.)

I would have been the kid who stayed home, but not because I felt the rules were important. My entire childhood was spent exploring the joys of solitude. Having to be by myself back then would actually have been somewhat validating.

Yes, there are people whose faces I miss. Yes, it breaks my heart to be away from family, friends and students. Yes, I deeply enjoy connecting with people on new and different levels now that we have to work our way around distance.

Still, I cannot deny that I welcome this retreat inward, these uncountable, satisfying hours alone with thoughts. Having this time allows me once again to inhabit my own inner world, and to accept and celebrate that part of me.

It’s been a while.

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10 Responses to “#SOL20 Day 24: Built For This”

  1. RiverBrown Says:

    Yes! Solitude is valuable. I love the line, “to inhabit my own inner world.” The contrast in motives between you and your sister makes this even more interesting. I wonder how the extroverts are holding up?

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      My older son is an extrovert. He’s going a bit stir crazy. My introverted husband is as well, but that’s because he doesn’t quite know how to sit still!

  2. arjeha Says:

    We all have our reasons for following, or not following, rules. I am a bit of an introvert so I can handle this isolation. I have Kathy, my cats, and my books. I am content.

  3. mythmakersunite Says:

    I have been secretly hoping our quarantine time continues. Thank you for being a compadre in savoring the solitude. I really enjoyed how you quickly built a description of yourself through the presentation of your family dynamics. Enjoy your time!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank you. You too! I figured I wasn’t alone (and, of course, the irony of that isn’t lost on me =)

  4. mgminer Says:

    Now I understand more why your writing speaks to me. I had similar childhood experiences. I am also grateful for the time and am a little anxious about how to “put myself out there” for distance learning.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Distance learning was tricky for me – I wasn’t exactly sure how it would look. We had one week and now we’re on Spring Break.

      What I’ve found was best for guiding me was the overwhelming feeling that I just plain missed my loveys. I started with that, and wanting to make sure they still felt the strength of the community.

      Hopefully that will be enough of a foundation. I guess we’ll see in the coming weeks…?

  5. Fran Haley Says:

    This struck pretty much every chord I have, Lainie. I, too, was the child who preferred to be myself; I craved books and asked for them for holiday and birthday gifts. I, too, was the child who would stay burrowed in my bedroom listening to music (or writing) for hours on end. I never felt lonely. To this day I crave solitude and if I don’t get it from time to time, my brain starts turning to mush. My husband HAS to be around people and interacting; this downtime/modified shelter-in-place has him sighing and stir crazy. Fascinating how we’re all different – how siblings are so different. I am monitoring these world events from my inner sanctum – like you, I was MADE for this.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Exactly! I feel grateful to know at this point in life what fuels me, and what I’ve come to is
      1. my “kid fix” time, 2. time by myself, 3. a chance to be creative, in whatever form that may be.

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