The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Friday feeling

I have never lived alone. I doubt that I would have been very good at it; I crave human interaction too much, and I'm not very good at entertaining myself for any great length of time. Truth be told, I get pretty pissy without other people around to talk to, so it's probably just as well that I met Paul when I was only 23 and ended up going directly from living with my parents to living with roommates to living with him. Nonetheless, I always feel just a tiny bit like I missed out on something that I ought to have done before settling down. Living alone seems (in my romantic, unrealistic view, anyway) like a terribly adult thing to do, and I guess I feel just a tiny bit less adult for never having done it.

The weeks when Paul travels to London are the closest I come to having the independent living experience. He usually leaves on a Sunday evening and returns home on Friday night, so I probably don't get the true "living alone" effect, since there's no weekend involved, but he's gone for long enough that I fall into a solitary rhythm quite unlike the rhythm of our lives when he's in town. "Solitary" and "alone" are obviously misnomers here, given the two chatterbox children who share my household, but I am the sole adult present and the only person awake after 8 p.m. It's close enough.

To be perfectly honest, there are quite a few things that I like about the weeks when Paul's away. My house is always neater with one less person to pick up after, the kids move swiftly from evening play to bedtime without the energy burst of a Daddy homecoming to throw them off track, and I can fall asleep with the TV on every single night if I want. I run the show and things get done my way, and I don't even have to share the chocolate ice cream with anyone if I wait until the kids are asleep to break it out. Chores that are "Paul's" -- the garbage and the recycling and the washing of the dinner dishes -- become mine for the week, and instead of resenting the extra work, I do them with a certain amount of competent pleasure. There is a pride that comes from knowing that I can do it all, that I can keep the household operating smoothly and efficiently without any assistance. "This isn't so bad," I always think for the first day or two. "I could do this if I had to."

But then the week gets long. Our household follows its revised routine smoothly, but I find us all inexplicably dragging a bit. The kids are listless without their father; uninspired without his games and ideas and all too aware that they're not likely to get away with much as long as I'm the only sheriff in town. My rules are being followed, but even I am getting anxious to break them in order to break up the monotony of the week. The evening TV shows I fight to turn on when Paul is around are actually pretty damn boring without him beside me to poke fun at them, and without him here, I have no excuse to buy more ice cream when I run out mid-week. By Wednesday or Thursday, I'm hungry for a balanced meal and someone to share it with. And by the time Friday rolls around, we're all making Welcome Home signs and hanging out by the front window for the first sight of Paul's car, pushing each other out of the way to be the first one to hug him when he walks through the door. My perfect schedule be damned. I want my husband back. I simply don't like my life nearly as much without him in it.

I'm truthfully glad that I get to go it by myself once a month or so. I appreciate the solitude and the chance to do it all my way for a few days and the opportunity to feel like a true adult. I like my weeks alone more than I ever thought I would, and more than I've ever admitted to Paul. But my favorite part of these weeks is the way I feel by the time Friday comes; anxious to welcome my husband home and 100% certain that our life together is the one I want. After a week alone, I have the confidence that comes from knowing that I could do this without him and the certainty of place that comes from knowing that I would never want to. It's a heady combination.

It's Monday today, and I'm still a little high on the freedom of my newfound solitude. But I know what's coming next and better yet, what comes after that. I'm T minus 4 days to that Friday feeling. I can't wait.


At 6:53 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I have lived alone and, truthfully, loved it. In fact, when my husband and I were dating, I told him my ideal living situation would be adjoining apartments - I loved living alone that much. But now? Eleven years later, he's too much a part of my "everyday" to imagine. Though I can't say I mind a businss trip here or there!

(Your post was beautifully written, btw.)

At 12:03 AM, Anonymous chelle said...

*sigh* I have lived alone and loved it. When my husband & I moved into together, I loved it.

This is the first time we have been separated for this long and I am miserable. I am the one away and I want to run back to him RIGHT NOW! Sadly our ticket home is next tueday :(

At 7:00 AM, Blogger Rosemary said...

This is such a beautiful posting, Rebecca! It touched me deeply. I've known that feling of coming home, or having him come home and making that home complete again. I hope to know it again someday. Meanwhile, I've never lived alone either but it's in the offing and, if I'm not yet ready to embrace the idea, I think it will at least be an interesting experience.

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

From someone coming home, at this very moment, I can really relate to this one. Being away or alone are only nice because you get to come home and be with someone the other part of hte time. Yin and Yang.


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