I spent the last ten years of my life fantasizing about trips alone to the grocery store and a night on the sofa solo with popcorn and the Housewives. Dreaming about a quiet afternoon while The Children miraculously have plans with friends at the same time. I spent the last ten years tucking my kids into their beds each night. Ten years of knowing that they were there, right there, in the next room, their presence a peaceful reminder that I’ve done at least two great things in this lifetime. Each day for almost twelve years, I’ve been a wife and a mother. I’ve made a thousand dinners. The doors to this house were always open and I loved that people were always going in and out. Each day for almost 13 years, I had a partner.
And then one day I was Just Me again.
I was able to go to the grocery store alone.
I had way too many nights with popcorn and housewives, solo on the sofa.
I had too many quiet afternoons while The Children were away with their father.
Because then one day, not every night was a night my kids could be tucked into their beds by me; their empty room beside mine a reminder that life had changed forever.
I used to be really good at being alone. In fact, I’ve always been someone who needs time alone. I like to be with myself. I like the solitude. I enjoy being alone with my thoughts. I’ve never had a problem going to the movies alone, preferring it, actually. I’m happy to keep myself company at lunch or saddle up to a bar for a glass of rosé. I think my years in New York taught me that. Moving to a huge city by yourself at 18 requires one to figure shit out. And then another move at 21 to another huge city by yourself, those lessons repeat themselves.
But suddenly faced with so much alone time at age 35 after a decade of Raising Children, well, let me tell you. Shit is hard. I have very well meaning girlfriends who tease me that they’re jealous of all this time I have and my only response is-don’t be. It’s a difficult thing to grasp when the purpose of your life for a decade suddenly changes shape drastically. I’m still surrounded by so many things familiar, but that’s just a facade. Just because the outside looks the same doesn't mean the inside isn’t a tore up, hot mess. Kinda like these thoughts I’m trying to express.
I’ve spent so many nights the last many months with a new appreciation for loneliness. It sorta…creeps in slowly and then suffocates you. Each morning I wake up to the sunlight streaming through the windows and I think…okay. Here we go. Another day. We can do this. Because I still have so many happy moments in each day. I still have so many things I’m grateful for. I look at My Children with even more wonderment now. Every kiss and hug and plea for a back scratch makes me smile and happily oblige. Because they’re looking at me. Daughter especially. She’s checking in, asking Mama if she’s happy. And Mama…well Mama just has to swallow her tears sometimes and remind Daughter and Son that they will always make her happy. Every time. Every day. Every minute.
But now these days I have alone, I need to figure out how to make me happy again. I admit in a way, it’s somewhat exhilarating to have an opportunity to…rediscover yourself. That’s what my therapist and I are working on. I’m so L.A. now, with my therapist and everything. (Only took 15 years.) Therapist likes to give me pep talks. Remind me that I’m ONLY 35, not ALREADY 35. (Still..holy shit.) Remind me that there’s a whole lot of life yet to live. And I will live it happily. Remind me that, yes, this experience I’m experiencing is awful, terrible, sad and…lonely, but now I have to admit that I’m more than a wife and a mother. I’m…Just Me again. I always knew that girl was still down there, somewhere, waiting for her time to jump back out. I guess it’s time. I guess I gotta go find her.
I think she’ll be happy to see me.