Alone Again, Unnaturally

We’re currently visiting my parents on the New England coast. It’s a beautiful place to be in the summertime -- beaches, rocky shoreline, sparkling water dotted with sailboats, open expanses of wind-blown grass, wild roses climbing over old stone walls.

Not that I’ve had much chance to enjoy it, mind you. I’ve been busy with my usual activities, like changing diapers, applying sunscreen, packing snacks, and visiting every playground in the area. I’m not complaining, exactly. It IS nice to have a change of scenery once in awhile. And the grandparents do take some of the pressure off me. Not least by serving delicious nightly meals with wine and candles (!!)

Yesterday I managed to go for a bike ride by myself. The baby was napping and his brother was coloring semi-quietly in his room. “Don’t come back until you’ve gone 5 miles,” ordered my mom. I’m not sure if she’s concerned about my fitness or my mental health. Either way, I appreciated the sentiment.

The first part of the ride, I half-noticed the scenery and the sea air while continuing my usual incessant brain-chatter: “I have to get back by 3:30 or the baby will sleep too long and won’t go to bed tonight, plus that’ll give me time to take a shower before we meet our friends at the playground, which I’m not sure I know how to find exactly and I wonder if they have bathrooms there and I have to remember to pack the green sippy cup that doesn’t leak and the sunblock that doesn’t run into the baby’s eyes and -- dammit! I forgot to get more Overnite diapers..."

Unconsciously, I pedaled to the edge of a park overlooking the ocean. I stopped for a water break and leaned my bike against a high stone wall. Far off, a boat silently trailed a streak of white, like sidewalk chalk on a driveway. I heard the drone of bees and noticed a woodchuck trundling along in the underbrush a few yards away. A butterfly circled lazily overhead. Aside from a guy mowing a lawn in the distance, I was alone. Alone!

You know in that Dr. Seuss book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” there’s that line, “Alone is something you’ll be quite a lot”? I’m guessing he didn’t mean when you have 2 small kids. Because I am alone about as often as I make a nice, home-cooked family meal with wine and candles. Which is to say, almost never.

Not in the car, not in the house. Not in my bed, not in the kitchen. And especially, not in the bathroom. Going to the grocery store by myself doesn’t count. It just doesn’t. Technically, I guess you could say I’m alone on the treadmill when I go to the gym, but come on!

And I am a person who needs my alone time. Cherishes it. CRAVES it. I get to eat an entire cookie in peace. Listen to my own music. Think my own thoughts. (That part is key.) Ironic, since for a good part of my life I had too much alone time. If only it was something you could stock up on, like toilet paper at Costco. But that works about as well as stocking up on sleep before the baby comes, doesn’t it?

I know, I know. There will come a time, far too soon, when I am alone again. When my kids don’t need me as much. When I can take solo bike rides whenever the mood strikes. I wonder... will I appreciate them half as much when the time comes?

Nah. Just like I never fully appreciated "sleeping in" till 7 a.m. on a Saturday before I had kids.

READ O’ THE WEEK: After reading this article and the NYT essay that sparked the book (writers, take note!), I picked up Laura Munson’s This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness I am really, really enjoying it.


Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

I cannot even express to you how much this resonates with me! I always cherished my alone time, and I was not prepared for NEVER HAVING ANY AGAIN EVER! Even, as you shared, in the bathroom. And no, going to the grocery store alone does not count! LOL

I have a cycle where I go a few months w/out any alone time and start to lose it. I become very crabby. Quick to anger. Restless. And then I snap at my husband and tell him if I do not get some time to myself I am going to go crazy. He watches DD for an hour so I can get a pedicure. But I really need more than that.

It will come with time. DD will start school in a couple of years. And before I know it she will be all grown up and move out of my house and I'll have plenty of alone time, until hubby retires. LOL

I just keep telling myself this does not last forever, and I am very lucky to have my sweet little girl. ;)

tineroche said...

Being alone was my biggest fear when I was younger and now I wish I had a few minutes for myself every now and than (just when I go to the bathroom maybe???!!!!!!!) I love the picture and after being with 2 sick kids for the past week I wish I could sit on those rocks and look over the water for a little while ALL BY MYSELF!

Loukia said...

I need alone time too. I crave it. That is the number 1 reason I am glad I have a full-time job. How awful does that sound? And when I'm with my kids I'm so happy and cherish the moments, but then, I'm also glad to get out and go to work. I'm glad you had that time to yourself. Looks and sounds like a really fun time. Happy end of summer to you!

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