It’s been 2 weeks since my kids have been away. They are staying at my sister’s house down south.
So for two weeks, I have had weird panic attacks missing the kids alternating with bouts of joy as I realize I’m free to pop off to the movies or for last-minute after work drinks with the crowd from the office.
Laundry piles are completely non-existent. I’m eating the same sort of healthy weird food most days. I’m only buying the fruit that I want to eat.
My last trip into CVS I spent a whole hour experimenting with all the makeup – actually using all those “Test only” bottles of moisturizer with no one complaining at me to hurry up. It was bliss.
I’ve wandered into a few antique stores and even to a bookstore.
I made several donations to Good Will – without kids checking all the bags to make sure their stuff wasn’t in there.
I’ve found stuff under the couches, under the beds and behind the hutch that I know the kids were looking for in the past year.
I’ve spent hours just reading and sitting drinking coffee on the porch in the morning – in peace and quiet. The cat decided my lap was the best lap around to cuddle into – I think I had forgotten how to sit and pet an animal quietly.
I’ve been able to answer the phone and talk to friends as opposed to missing their calls and texting them in a hurry. Conversations have been long and lazy.
My showers have been longer too. I normally spend most days shouting at teenagers to get out of the shower and get out of the bathroom so I usually take lightning fast showers so I can set a good example. For now, I’m taking the time to exfoliate and use that three- minute conditioner.
I can take walks in the evening, without bribing anyone with ice-cream at Dr. Mikes, to come with me.
I’m listening to my type of music without head phones – and blasting Broadway songs, classic rock and 1970’s music around the place.
And despite the time I’m taking to rediscover myself, I think about the kids. I miss them. I miss their noise, their giggles, their arguments and I’m kind of jealous that my sister gets to hear the laughter from her kids and my kids together. They get along so well it’s wonderful to see. I’m also happy that someone else in the family gets the time to spend with my kids because I think they are incredibly awesome young individuals, with inspiring personalities – quirky, stubborn, happy, outgoing young people that make me proud. These two weeks I know my sister is telling mum and everyone else in the family how great my kids are. I’m feeling quietly smug and smile inwardly. I know they’ve had a loving home to live in.
With only a few days left before they return, I plan on going to a concert, visiting friends and doing some final touch-ups on the house. I know I will see the children and wonder how big they have gotten in the two weeks they’ve been away. I will notice all the extra freckles they will have. I will delight in breathing in their smell and trying to hear all the stories of their two weeks as they all talk at the same time. They will tire of my reaching out to hug them all the time. Our conversation will quickly turn to “back-to-school” plans. The house will become full of noise but I will be happy to hear it. The cat will return to sleeping on the top bunk out of the way.
The three minute conditioner will return to the back of the bathroom closet and the laundry will miraculously reappear.
Yet, these two weeks have taught me a few precious lessons. My kids are quickly becoming young independent adults. For the most part, my work is done. I rarely remind anyone to say please and thank you. I know my work now is more often a job of chauffeur and guider rather than mother. They are fun and my life is so full of bubbling and intoxicating joy when they are with me. More importantly, my fear of losing myself in mother hood and not remembering how I could possibly be “by myself”, has not been realized. I’m still me. I still dance around my kitchen listening to bad 80’s music. I don’t own the leg warmers I used to wear when I listened to Madonna or Pet Shop Boys but my kids are away, I remember how to play.