Saturday, July 11, 2015

A week with no walls

Last Saturday, my husband drove off with my children, leaving me all alone.  For just one week.

Although of course we love each other very much, there is something to be said for having a week-long vacation from each other every once in a while.  Being apart not only allows us to indulge in the things we love that drive the other person a little bit nutso, but it also allows us to think fondly of the good parts of our marriage.  Consider this heart-warming note my husband sent about the joys of frugality, as seen from the comfortable distance of living in a bit of temporary restaurant/new-car luxury, as he and the boys spent the week with his daughter (my step-daughter):
[My daughter] and I were talking about cooking. Although we have been going out for dinner, the boys have been cooking breakfast and making sandwiches during the day. I was telling her how to shop for vegetables in season and some ways she could convince herself it is better to cook than eat out. 
It's funny. As I do it, I am channeling you, of course. I feel like at fat guy sharing diet secrets, or a happy drunk telling a sad drunk next to him in a bar that he needs Jesus.  But even if I would prefer to drive new cars and eat out more, I feel overwhelmingly blessed to share my spendthrift life with you. . . . 
. . . This had been a lovely trip. The funny thing about our (relatively) Spartan life is that every luxury feels so good. The [rental] car is a smooth, quiet, electronic marvel. I worried about being able to drive all this way because I was remembering Chicago and back in the Prius, or thinking Michigan to PA in the Humvee. The 2015 Malibu is automotive Heaven.
For my part, what I reveled in was what I think of as "the week without walls".  I woke up in the morning and could do my usual morning puttering without having to schedule it around the boys' 7 a.m. wake-up time.  I took on projects during the day, and I didn't have to keep an eye on the clock so that I could be back home to supervise summer school or prepare dinner in the early evening.   I started a bedtime book or went to sleep early without having to check that the boys were home, that they'd brushed their teeth, that they had planted their phones in the cell-phone garden.

The wall-less-ness of the schedule was thrilling.  It was energizing.  It was freeing.  It reminded me of those summers very, very long ago that I used to relish because of the childlessness of them. I'd  just moved to the College where I now work; I was a divorced mom with one child.  School years, my daughter would be with me, and summers she'd spend at her dad's home.  What amazed me most during those summers of no childcare was that the true freedom was NOT that I got to go out with my friends on a moment's notice, and it was NOT being able to stay at work after the daycare closed --- it was the freedom to leave work EARLY.   That is, I could go home at 3 p.m. if I were tired, and I wouldn't have to do so knowing I'd just have to return to the childcare place to pick her up, or I wouldn't have to bring her home with me and immediately go into "second shift" of mom duty:  I could just . . . go home.  And sit there.  There was no 5 p.m. wall in my schedule.

And last week, I started projects knowing that I didn't have to magically have them cleaned up and put away at a certain time.  I could move dinner to 4:30 or to 8:30, and nothing crazy would happen.  It was like Time opened up for me.

My husband and sons are back.  I'm very glad they are; I missed them (even the 16-year-old who still, alas, needs constant supervision). But I'm also glad for the temporary gift of time I got.  It's a glimpse to me of what lies ahead when the boys move out.  Will I be bored?  (No)   Will I be lonely? (No).  Will I have trouble figuring out what to do with all my free time? (no, no, and no).

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