07/02/2012 08:21 am ET | Updated Sep 01, 2012

5 Things I Discovered while Home Alone

Everyone's lives are different, just like every person is different. What's most different about my life, it seems to me, is that I've had small kids at home for the past 30 years (currently, ages 30, 15, and 5). And while I get my fair share of time away from them, it's usually while traveling or working, not at home. Alone.

Some strange confluence of activities meant I had my first weekend home alone that I can remember. Probably in forever. Because if kids were gone, the husband was about. Or one kid would be at camp, but the other was toddling about. So it took me a bit of time to adjust to the reality of it. DO YOU MEAN I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT, WHENEVER I WANT?????!!!!!  Holy crap. What a concept. Now, some of you may be used to this. But I am not. By the time I make the weekend list of everyone else's schedules of Things That Must Be Done, I am left with a few precious hours to decide what I want and usually NEED to do. You know, bills, food-shopping, errands. I'm lucky if I can fit in a run. Although, my one steady sacred time is Sunday Yoga.

I love my kids, of course I do. And I want them all to return home safely. But I must say I learned a lot about myself this weekend that I don't want to forget.

  1. I can focus. I went to the Velodrome on Friday night and, for the first time I could remember, could have conversations with people without jerking my head around to see where my kids went, being begged for food or drink, or having to stand in line for AN HOUR to get a face painted. Not mine. It felt so odd. Same with the rest of the time. People weren't asking me to take them to the mall, get them a drink, or help them find something. Remarkable!
  2. I still like to cook (and eat). In fact, doing so was even more pleasurable because I could make exactly what I wanted, when I wanted it. I'm trying to go gluten free to see what it feels like, and Friday afternoon I had a bowl of Nature's Path Honeyed Corn Flakes with Organic Valley Milk and the last pure ripe and red strawberries from my garden. Heaven! Well, that's not cooking, I know, but I did also cook and I liked it.
  3. I love my garden even more. Partly because I have time to pay attention to it. But especially because I have more time to enjoy it. To sit back and relax and stare adoringly at my trees and flowers (God, nature is amazing!). Or to eat from it. I was making veggie fried rice from leftovers for an early lunch on Sunday and I thought it could use some peas. I looked in my freezer and realized I didn't have any. Then--DUH!--remembered there were peas in my garden.  Now, this may seem remedial to some, but when one is rushing about trying to feed multiple palates, it's easy to forget what's fresh right outside the door.
  4. Naps are wonderful. Yes, the drooling kind. On the couch with the door open and the summer sun shining in. No one shouting "Mom!" in the background.
  5. I'm an artist. If you had asked me what I wanted to be when I was 14, I would have said an artist. But then reality checks in and the idea of making a living takes over, and even an art degree feels like a lost dream (I have one, by the way). An afternoon of painting for the sake of my own pleasure (not for anyone else's viewing pleasure or for potential sale) reminds me that I am blissful and most joyful when I'm getting paint stuck on the bottom of my bare feet and in that zone where all that matters is color, vision, dreaming, and creation. My new glasses help, too.
  6. I still probably spend too much time in front of the computer. Some bad habits will likely take more than one weekend to break.
  7. But I still don't turn on the TV. I was tempted to watch a movie on Saturday night. As much because I wanted buttered popcorn as anything...except that I had FREE TIME. So instead, I listened to a meditation CD that someone gave me and I would never have had uninterrupted time to enjoy and I watched the lightning bugs.
  8. I get a lot more done. But don't feel a sense of panic that it must be done.
  9. It's remarkable how much time is left when you don't have to clean up after people all weekend long. But the weekend is still too short and still goes too fast.
  10. I am not fundamentally crabby!!!! I think sometimes my family would like me to believe that I am predominantly crabby. But like kids--kids are crabby when they are hungry or tired or aren't getting enough attention--moms are crabby when they don't have time to take care of their own needs. Or are hungry, tired, not getting enough attention, or overworked taking care of everyone else's needs. Besides, my definition of fun is FUNdamentally different from the rest of my family's. Art museum, anyone? Exactly.
I know this is the part where I'm supposed to say I miss them, I love them, and I want them back. I do. But I can wait a little bit. And I don't miss them that much. In fact, other than the littlest one, I know they don't miss me, either. And that's the way it should be. I did my job to raise independent and confident women.  And sometimes, it's OK for us all to have our free time and space.


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