Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Mother Alone, Part 1

A rare and unusual event is occurring for the next two days. My kids are with their grandparents. My husband is away. And I am alone in a rented cottage for the next 32 hours. I've been thinking about it for some time, and I literally cannot remember the last time I was alone for this amount of time.

When my daughter was a toddler and my son was in preschool, perhaps almost a decade ago, I desperately need a break, so I drove two hours to New Hampshire and spent the night in a hotel. It was a fit of utter desperation, and had the feeling of running away. I read at the beach. I watched TV in the middle of the day. And I decided to give myself a bikini wax, which didn't go as well as I had hoped. And I was home within 24 hours. Before that, when I was pregnant with my son thirteen years ago, I probably spent some time alone (with the fetus) when my husband traveled for work. But never like this. Never alone in a vacation town. For 32 hours.

Last year, a friend passed along a book by Anne Morrow Lindbergh called "A Gift from the Sea" about her yearly pilgrimage to a cottage in Florida for some writing time away from her brood of children. It seemed so impossibly luxurious that it made me depressed. Never did I would imagine my own gift from the sea. But here it is...

Now, I'm not one of those mother that actually misses her children when they go off on overnights at friends (much.) I am always of the "Yee haw!" variety when the kids leave the house. Of course as a full-time homeschooling parent, I spend nearly every waking moment with my children (at least it feels that way,) and have done so since they were born. Nothing against babysitters and daycare, but that never felt right to me. I'm a control freak, and I'm good at my job, and I feel too nervous to have someone else taking care of my kids. But now they are 10 and 13 year old, and I feel them starting to pull away from me. It feels right for us to have some time away from each other. So imagine how surprised I am right now to be missing my children.

There is no "Yee haw!" moment. It's very quiet. I drove four hours to get them to their grandparents, so I have a bit of a headache and sore throat. And it's really, really quiet here. I'm a gal who loves her some quiet, but my ears aren't yet used to this kind of quiet. I'm more accustomed to a "they'll-be-home-any-minute-so-get-it-done-now" buzzing quiet.
If they were here right now, we'd just be finishing dinner, the three of us. My body would be sitting at the table, but my spirit would be pulled toward the computer. Oh Email! Oh Facebook! My links to the world of Pam the Individual. The kids would be asking me stuff. A lot of stuff. "Can we watch TV?" "Which video should we watch?" "Will you watch with us?" "Can you make him stop bugging me?" "Can you make her stop nagging me?" "Can we have dessert while we watch?" "Why can't I have ice cream?" "Why do we have to take a shower first?" "Do I have to wash my hair?" "Why do I have to go first?" And I would be daydreaming about what it would be like to be alone in the house, doing whatever I wanted in peace and quiet.

And now the moment is here.

It's so quiet my ears hurt.

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