Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Jackpot

Written on Thursday, January 1:

Mr. Handsome has fairly outdone himself. He packed the van, loaded up the kids, and took off for his parents’ place ... and left me here, at home, with nary a child in sight.

I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT, WHENEVER I WANT, HOWEVER I WANT!!! I CAN SET MY COFFEE CUP ON THE FLOOR! I CAN LAY PILES OF PHOTOS ALL OVER THE HOUSE! I CAN KICK OFF MY SHOES AND LET THEM LAY WHEREVER THEY LAND! I VACUUMED THE FLOORS AND I WILL NOT DO IT AGAIN FOR AT LEAST SEVERAL DAYS! I CAN WATCH MOVIES, EAT CHOCOLATE, GO SHOPPING, TALK ON THE PHONE, GO FOR A WALK, WRITE/BLOG WHENEVER MY LITTLE HEART DESIRES!

Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to YELL in your face. I’m not trying to FLAUNT my good fortune, or anything.

BUT I AM SO EXCITED! I CAN HARDLY CONTAIN MYSELF!

Here’s what happened. Yesterday my girlfriend Shannon called me to tell me that her girlfriend Karen called Shannon to tell her that Karen’s husband had just left with all four of their boys to go visit his family for several days. (Too many pronouns, sorry–are you still with me?) Shannon and I sighed wistfully over Karen’s good fortune, and then, after I hung up the phone with Shannon, I called up Mr. Handsome at work and told him what Shannon had just told me about Karen. I said, “You know, you could do that if you wanted, now that The Baby Nickel is weaned. You could take all the kids away. Go visit my parents for the weekend. Or even just for a day. You know?”

Mr. Handsome grunted.

I continued, “I’ve taken the kids away before, on multiple occasions. You’ve had time to be at home, by yourself, to work on projects. And now, you could do it for me!”

“Uh-huh.”

“You could even go to your parents’ if you wanted!”

“Uh-huh.”

“Okay, that’s all. I just wanted you to know that. Bye now.”

“Bye.”

About a half hour later the phone rang. It was Mr. Handsome. “I just talked to my mom. They’re having a snowstorm. Do you think you could pack up the kids’ things this afternoon? We would leave in the morning.”

I was floored, totally speechless. I found myself gasping for breath, doing an excellent imitation of a guppy fish. Panic and elation were duking it out in the confines of my ribcage.

Did I want them to leave me, all alone, for several days? What would I do? Who would I talk to? Could I stand to be with myself, just myself, for that long? I’m really not a very exciting person.

I called Shannon and explained my good fortune/dilemma. “Are you crazy? Say YES!” she said. “Let’s think for a minute. Do you have good chocolate on hand? Lots of coffee? What projects do you want to work on? You can go shopping! You can do whatever you want! Say yes!”

So I said yes, and now they are gone.

I first went for a walk. Just like that. I didn’t have to tell anyone I was going. I just put on my coat and gloves and scarf and walked out the door and down the road. It was kind of freaky.

Back at the house again, I hung up the remaining hats and coats that were lying on the floor. They will stay put on their hooks for the next several days. Weird.

Then I listened to a talk show on the radio. I cranked it up loud, and while I listened I ate a grapefruit and wrote on January’s new calendar page. No one asked for a bite of my grapefruit. No one tried to scribble on my calendar. No one yelled, drowning out the radio people. I listened to the program all the way through, from start to finish. And when I was done I turned it off and switched on the computer.

So far, I have dirtied one plate, one bowl, and my coffee cup. After I peeled my grapefruit I put the rind in the compost, so there is no mess in the sink.

I’m not used to all this silence. It’s deafening. I think I’ll go turn on the radio back on now... that’s better.

You know, it is odd how I constantly ache for extended time alone and then when my wish comes true, I develop an ache for my children and husband. At the same time that I’m basking in the solitude, I am missing them. Can I never be content?

Life is a balancing act. I’m always leaning to one side more than the other, so then when I lean the other way, trying to right myself, I go too far in that direction. Sometimes, I slip and totally fall off (that’s called Going Off The Deep End) and flop around for a bit before clambering back on and trying once again to regain my footing. Every now and then I do reach an equilibrium, which means that I feel productive and rejuvenated and generous, all at one time, but that only lasts for about nine minutes and then I’m off-kilter again.

I’m trying to take this gift of alone-time and maximize it, without feeling too alone or sad. It’s just kind of difficult, because when you are so used to fighting to get one blessed minute to yourself—to all of a sudden have all the minutes to yourself, with no one to orchestrate but yourself, well, it kind of leaves you shaking your head, befuddled and confused. Um, what am I supposed to do? How do I act? Who am I, anyway?

***

Here’s how I plan to spend my jackpot of free-time. I may do any, all, or none of the following: blog, write an article, go for walks, eat Chinese take-out, go shopping for a long flow-y skirt and some new underwear, read books, watch a movie, work on updating the sorely-out-of-date photo albums, write in the kids’ baby books, go to the library, browse the thrift stores, visit friends, lounge about at Barnes and Noble, and get my seed order ready.

I will not, most definitely not, clean up other people’s messes or put anyone on time-out. And when these few days are over, I will be totally and absolutely thrilled to see my children and husband once again. When it comes down to it, they are the best gift I've ever received---a jackpot like none other.

Note: I've waited to publish this post until now, after Mr. Handsome called to tell me they are on their way home. It was kind of freaky being alone in my house, and I didn’t want any crazies to come and get me.

5 comments:

  1. the twitter boogeyman comment makes sense now that I know you were alone, you poor dear.

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  2. Mmm, yeah, there's probably lots of crazies out there waiting to get you.


    *Note, while you were willy nilling about all alone, I spent the last 3 days with a sick baby, granted, it's only 1 baby, not 4, but still, I think I could use a day to myself too :)

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  3. I can't stand to be alone. A completely quiet house is a frightening thought. Hope the visit went well and that you got some good project time in.

    Kate

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  4. Woo-hoo for you! I LOVE having the house to myself!-- not that it happens often. Hubz usually takes the kids to his mom's for a couple days in Aug so I can do school planning. Last year for some reason he took them away for a couple days in Feb, too-- that was a bonus. Of course, my kids are much older than yours. But I love love it and I do NOT miss them all when they are gone. Because the kids are my job, and who doesn't like having a vacation from one's job?

    I'm having deja vu here and I realize it's b/c one of my other bloggy friends just posted about the same thing last week and I made a similar comment.

    So... are you going to tell us what you did during your jackpot free time? Or are you now too busy cleaning up other people's messes and putting people in time-out?

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  5. Even three days after you wrote this you were still flying high!

    ReplyDelete