I find myself at home all by myself for a week--the kids, husband, even the dog are all at my in-laws house. I miss the dog most. Just kidding. Sort of. He is the neatest of all of them, and you know how I hate clutter.
Times like these give me a glimpse of what might have been, if I never met my husband or had the kids or got the dog. A glimpse of the grass on the other side of the fence that I often look at with some envy, as I watch my unattached or childless friends spin around in freedom at the top of a mountain while singing about hills being alive. I can rarely be so carefree. If I take the time to spin around and sing on top of a mountain, someone will probably fall off of it while I am not looking. Or more likely, they will be clinging to my leg while I attempt to spin, whining about how the air is too fresh and it is burning their nose, and I will throw myself off the mountain in annoyance.
I am reveling in the solitude and the freedom of movement, even if the complete silence is a little unsettling. I keep hearing things that have long been masked by shrieking and crying. I heard a bird the other day that sounded just like this girl in the 6th grade who told me my mother was going to die of cancer because she drank Sweet-n-Low in her tea. I can also hear myself think, which is at times not very pleasant. My voice in my head is even more nasal and weird than on a recording, and it sometimes says disturbing things to me such as, "What if you cut all your hair off right now? That might be fun" or "There are four tubs of ice cream in the garage freezer, you know" or "The year is over half gone and soon you'll be old and then you'll die and there might not even be a heaven or worse, you were wrong about everything and are headed straight to hell."
The freedom of movement is probably the most enjoyable aspect. I do have a million micro-panic attacks every day, however, as I momentarily forget the kids are safely in another state and are not wandering the streets or reorganizing my shoes. Also, when I am taking a shower, I often hear a phantom baby crying, but that is true whether they are home or not. But I can go wherever I want, whenever I want, and I don't have to consult anyone or hire anyone or ask anyone favors or pack luggage or herd a bunch of cats with ADD. I don't have to dash out of my office every day at precisely 4:03 in order to make it home in time for some child-related obligation. I still leave at 4:03, because I don't really want to work more than I have to, but I can leisurely stroll out, maybe even use the toilet on my way instead of holding it and praying traffic is light. In fact, I don't even have to go home AT ALL. I can run an errand or do a little shopping or get a pedicure or just head West, Middle-Aged Woman or even have a fender bender if I so choose. Seriously, anyone out there is welcome to rear-end my car this week and I won't even be stressed. What reason is there to stress if there are no children around? I can go for a run whenever I want without having an extended planning session/argument with my husband about when I can run and when he can run (life was way simpler when he was a couch potato, incidentally). I can stop writing this right now at 9 pm on a Friday and go to a roller derby or a hot dog eating contest.
OK I just ate 39 hot dogs, threw them up while roller skating, and now I'm back. And I have time to reflect on just what my children bring to my life now that I am living for a bit in their absence. For instance, without my children I would be crazy in a completely different way, and I may not even be able to justify medication for it. While my children have driven me to that, as well as some light drinking, in order to withstand their psychological torture and logistical onslaught, I have almost been cured of neat-control-freakishness. I remember at my worst, I would spend 3 hours every Saturday scrubbing down my entire house. Which is just a waste of time, nobody needs to do that. It's been many years since I cleaned that much, but I was more recently more bothered by disorder and grime than I am now. But when you live in what is essentially a dumpster, you give up all standards of cleanliness. I am still bothered by the mess, but I don't waste my time trying to do much about it. I have increasing amounts of chin hair that needs to be plucked. In addition, without my kids, my art collection would not be nearly so intellectually challenging. Everything my children bring home requires deep thought and creative interpretation in order to appreciate. I might never have a good reason to buy that ice cream that is sitting in my garage freezer and therefore would never have an opportunity to binge on it. Also, I am sure I would waste more of my life sleeping. And I would probably not ever play with legos or star wars figures, and that would just be sad. And I would never have the perfect excuse not to hang out with people I don't really care to hang out with much. I would probably go to more boring parties, which is most parties, really. I would read more books not worth reading and buy more stuff not worth having (although I do a pretty bang-up job on that from the comfort of my own sofa) and wear more make-up that doesn't really make me look better anyway. And I fear without my children, I would feel very self-righteous. I might make it through entire hours and maybe even days, without yelling at anybody, which would go straight to my head and ruin my whole personality.
So it's for the best that I had them, my life is surely better. Or at least my time and energy is more occupied, and I am not sure what I would do with all that anyway. Probably just clean stuff, and that's no fun. But, while they are out, I think I might just go find a mountaintop and spin around and sing.