"I'm so jealous!" a friend wrote me. "It sounds like HEAVEN." It's true that the idea of it sounded like heaven to me, too. Four nights on my own while my husband and kids were out of town? My god, just think of the peace and quiet! Think of everything I could get done without all the constant distractions of parenthood! Think of the much-needed alone time and the ability to go wherever I wanted!
So why was it that less than two hours after they left, I found myself lingering near the refrigerator for emotional comfort -- not because I was eating my feelings, but because it was the only thing in the damn house making NOISE?
Now that my family's back and life has resumed its normal chaotic tempo, I can tell you that there were definitely some enjoyable moments during my time alone. I marveled at how satisfyingly clean the house stayed, I relished the opportunity to focus on my writing deadlines without trying to tune out a cacophony of kid noises, I took advantage of my freedom to see Pacific Rim and Elysium.
But overall, it really wasn't anything like I thought it'd be. Here's how my fantasy of being alone in the house for several days compared to the reality:
FANTASY: The tranquility of my quiet house would envelope me like a warm bath.
REALITY: The oppressive SILENCE of my distressingly EMPTY house smothered me like a damn TOMB. Seriously, I constantly did laundry and turned on the news just so there would be something to focus on other than the gaping absence of noise. I cannot explain this one bit.
FANTASY: I'd catch up on all my reading.
REALITY: I read nothing at all, aside from a crappy People magazine. I was so lonely for some form of human contact I mostly ended up staring at my phone or the computer, when I wasn't distracting myself by running errands or going to the movies.
FANTASY: I'd miss the kids, but in a healthy absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder way.
REALITY: I wandered around the house like I was in mourning, stopping now and then to pick up an abandoned toy and marvel at how very sad it all seemed. I had to shut the kids' doors so I wouldn't stare moonily in their bedrooms feeling a totally disproportionate sense of loss ... but not before I snuck in there and sniffed their pillows.
FANTASY: Having the bed to myself would be kind of fun!
REALITY: Having the bed to myself sucked. One night I stayed awake until 3 a.m., rigid with tension over every creak and sigh of the house settling. At one point I actually fearfully squeaked out, "Who's there??" after having convinced myself there was a GHOST in the living room.
FANTASY: I wouldn't do any of the normal boring suburban mom things I normally do.
REALITY: I went to the grocery store, the drugstore, bought some back to school clothes for the kids at Old Navy, vacuumed, and watered the lawn.
FANTASY: Being apart from my family would give me a wonderful sense of perspective, and upon their return I'd be more patient, more appreciative, and I'd become a more evolved parent and stop complaining about all the little things like LEGOs all over the floor and toothpaste on the sink.
REALITY: Ha. Ha ha ha. HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAA.
Have you ever spent time in your house without your family? Did it live up to your expectations?
Image via ppym1/Flickr