I am one of those people who really needs time alone. It sounds awful to some of you, I know, but I really crave time by myself. I like to just sit and reflect on things, to be alone with God and my thoughts. That's why these Thursdays that my husband makes it possible for me to steal away by myself for several hours is such a wonderful gift. When I'm at home every day, I am constantly conversing with my children (an always wonderful but sometimes draining experience), working around the house, talking on the phone, or feeling guilty because I'm sitting down for a few minutes when there is so much to be done! So I literally have to leave my house and go somewhere where nothing is expected of me (including spoken words) in order to have truly fulfilling alone time.
As I was growing up with four siblings, alone time was hard to come by then, too. I shared a room with my older sister Julie for all but about one year before she went off to college. And for several years, my two younger sisters had to walk through my room to get to their own (which was really awkward for everyone the first time Kevin and I slept in my room after we were married). Then for some unknown reason later on, my little brother's dresser got moved into my room, so he had to come in there just to get some clothes! Was this a cruel joke? My dad always called my room my "ivory tower," because I tried to make it my haven and spent a lot of time there--and because it was upstairs, I guess.
To truly get some time by myself in the Bevell home, however, I had to lock myself in the bathroom. It's not exactly the most scenic and inspirational of locations, but I was guaranteed some isolation. Granted, it came at the expense of being willing to be the last in line to take a bath, but I welcomed that sacrifice. Of course, this also meant that I might have to wait an even longer time for the hot water to be replenished for my bath, but hey--that just meant more alone time while I was waiting! So into the bathroom I would go, locking the door behind me and turning on the fan so that I didn't even have to hear the noises outside the door. There in my personal refuge, I lingered in a hot bath--sometimes reading, sometimes praying, most times sleeping. An hour was my usual time, and everyone knew this about me. As a teenager, when I'd have a friend come over to spend the night, she would go ahead and tell me good-night before I took my bath, because she was sure to be asleep when I came back. I always thought I would love to have a Jacuzzi, but each time I've had the opportunity to use one, I found it much less relaxing than my regular ol' bath. The rushing water and constant jetstream make me feel a bit stressed, actually. I prefer the really still water, because it is calm and peaceful--much more conducive to my possibility of a retreat.
Now that I'm married with children, alone time has to be even more deliberately and creatively sought after. I don't take baths every night like I used to, because once the kids are in bed, Kevin and I like to spend that time together. (On the nights that I do take a bath, Kevin often goes ahead and tells me good-night before I lock myself in and turn on the fan, just like my friends used to do!) There are occasionally evenings that Kevin has to work, so I snag some quiet time there, but mostly I am coming to depend on these Thursdays. It helps me make it through the rest of my week when I know I am going to have this time.
It may seem selfish and lazy to some people, but I am actually quite rejuvenated by sitting still, reading, writing, watching people, and just listening. It's easier for me to hear God speak to me in these hours, because I have fewer distractions. I get to kind-of regroup and re-energize, and I'm always a much better wife and mother and friend because of it. So it works out well for everyone. Besides, why should Daddy be the only one who gets the greetings of excitement and "We missed you!" all the time?!