Charlotte Latvala: Startled by brief disruption to routine

·3 min read
Charlotte Latvala
Charlotte Latvala

My daughter came down the stairs and just about — well, I won’t say scared me to death because I knew she was in the house — but gave me a little shock nonetheless.

“Good morning,” she said, as one does.

I gaped, open-mouthed. “What are you doing up already?”

Note: It was 7 a.m., she was operating on Pacific Time, and I didn’t expect to see her before noon.

“I think I’m discombobulated from the flight,” she said. “Where’s the coffee?”

She had flown in the night before from California. She looked bleary-eyed, shuffling around measuring coffee into my little French press.

Clinking. Clanking. Generally disturbing the quiet of the kitchen where I was ensconced with my laptop and my honey lemon tea. Where I normally spend every morning alone with my thoughts.

In our house of night owls, the early morning hours have traditionally been mine and mine alone. My brain functions at peak efficiency before noon. I write best when I can concentrate and have no interruptions; I’ve always said I get more done in three hours in the morning than I do the rest of the day.

But I crave my mornings alone for another reason. I’ve never been one of those people who bounce out of bed and feel chipper and chatty. I’m slow to get going. Slow to feel social.

But really? I chided myself that morning. You’re feeling annoyed because your first-born child is up already and making herself a coffee? This is what you’ve been dreaming about for months now, ever since she moved so far away. Buck up, you fool.

I had a coffee with her. We caught up on the past few months. I stuffed down the nagging little voice at the back of my head that had been caught mid-sentence when she appeared. (You’re not working on “War and Peace,” I told myself. You can get back to whatever it was.)

And it was all good. That week, two out of our three kids were home. We had some delicious takeout meals and a couple of homecooked ones. We picked out a Christmas tree. We FaceTimed with the kid stuck at school. (A long and not very interesting story.)

It’s gratifying to see that your children have somehow morphed into responsible and interesting adults. And having more laundry, showers and dishes for a week is a small price to pay for their company.

The tough part? Feeling guilty that you want your life back, just a little. When you’re a creature of habit, a lover of routine, even the good things in life can make you feel a little out of sorts.

This morning, I’m writing this in a quiet kitchen. I dropped them off at the airport before dawn. A quick hug, a stifled sob, a determination not to look back as I pulled out into traffic.

And now I miss them more than I can say. But I’m still enjoying the quiet.

Charlotte is a columnist for The Times. You can reach her at charlottelatvala@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on Beaver County Times: Latvala: Startled by brief disruption to routine

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