Thursday, September 22, 2011

learning to be alone again


my toddler has started a mother's morning out program. you can tell he's the fourth born. with my first born, i cried when he went off to a three year old program, wondering if i was making a mistake and worrying that i was scarring him forever by sending him off so soon. with the fourth born, i said, "congratulations, son. you are one! you get to go to school!" it's sad but true.

for the past couple of thursdays, i have had things to do, people to see, places to go. with a rainy day today, all of my plans have fallen through and i'm left with three hours to fill and a house that is way too quiet.

for the first time in eight years, i have three hours to myself and all i can think about is how quiet it is. i used to thrive in solitude. when my post college friends were still living in houses with three or four other people, i chose to find a small apartment and live alone. i have no problem seeing a movie by myself. i feel like i'm truly getting my money's worth when the entire theater is empty except for myself. once my kids came along, the adjustment to having someone around me all the time was cripplingly difficult.

now that i've become accustomed to all the noise and chaos, the transition back to solitude is equally hard. i used to ask my girlfriends who had their youngest head off to school how it felt and how the hours were filled. they always listed things they did to fill those hours...they were filled with new workout routines, new volunteer ventures, new jobs. i think i've come to the conclusion that the transition was just as hard for them as it was for me today. we are so used to so many things happening at once that the absence of it all leaves us with a desire to fill up that space again, with whatever we can find.

for me, i'm going to try to learn the art of being alone again. i'm going to try to resist the urge to fill up every minute with activity and instead learn to relish a few moments of quiet. i'm going to catch up on my reading, work on some photo albums, take a shower and turn music up while i spin around. there is no shortage of work when they are all at home. when i have three short hours in a week to myself, i feel like the work can wait. it will still be there three hours from now.

for now, i'm sitting in a starbucks, drinking a latte and typing. here at least the silence isn't quite so deafening. next week, maybe i'll tackle that book. baby steps...baby steps.