Today there has been a little bit of a break from the routine. The snow yesterday and today has prohibited me from going to see the boys at their away sporting event, which is an all day affair. (I just don't drive long distances in bad weather if I can help it). They left the house this morning at 6:00 a.m. and I have been relishing the alone time and quiet (no quarreling brothers, no loud music, no pounding on the drum set). There is plenty of food in the pantry so no need to venture out to the store. To relax and putter around the house is one of my most favorite simple life pleasures. I hope to read a bit and do some knitting and crochet, which despite my best intentions to do more of, I don't do enough. It is so relaxing to look out the window at the snow piling up and to feel warm, safe and secure. These are feelings that are often lacking in my life in part because I have so little free "me time." It is also extremely draining to always be worried about the boys and to have no one to share that burden with. And although some might think that life in general has gotten easier since the boys have gotten older, it does and does not. Now I have to worry more about who the boys are hanging around with (and what their intentions are) as well as being a chauffeur, often later at night. The fun will really begin when my oldest gets his driving license this May!
But back to alone time. A few years ago, a close girlfriend's ex-husband took their three children on a three-week vacation of the California coast. I remember feeling insanely jealous of her ability to sit at Starbucks and leisurely paint her living room during this time, which also served as a break for her. My free time is snatched in between parenting and household duties. And somewhat guiltily too, because in my life when I take free time it usually means that something is left undone (like dishes) while I'm taking a few hours off. One of the very few indulgences that I allow myself is a pedicure about once a month. The last three times I have gone, my foot massage has been interrupted because of some calamity at home. I've had to shorten my pedicure forgoing the massage (which is the best part) to get home to let in a son who forgot his key, or to pick one up in an emergency situation ("Hurry up mom, the police were called!"). It is both funny and sad. And I would have let the one who forgot his key wait outside but it was too cold.
I never remember feeling this drained and fatigued when my husband was alive. He was very active with the boys, often taking them out for batting/hitting practice and then to lunch. Or he'd take them to the school where he taught for a Saturday afternoon where they'd play in the gym. I in turn gave him time to pursue his own interests of singing in a local semi-professional group and attending one or two-week long educational seminars over the summer, which were out of town. It was a good balance and worked for us. I knew I could always ask him for free time and he would be there for me.
There are many demands on "only parents." No one to confer with on what to do when your son just lost a game and tosses some of his equipment on the floor of the school gym in anger (which happened last night). I sure miss having a male perspective and often think that I am too soft or lenient with the boys. Just having someone to discuss the situation with is helpful - getting a different viewpoint helps. I think kids benefit from this balance too. I once read a description of widowed parents that described it as having to do the work of two but with only the resources, time and energy level of one. The tiredness and drain is what is most difficult for me. Always having to be on 24-7. Never having even a short break from the constant worry. Today, I am assured that the boys are safe since they are at a school event. So I am taking full advantage of my "break." Not only do we need a break from the outside world and its demands but also some peace from the psychological demands resulting from our situation as only parents.
Today I am thankful:
1. For snow days that force us to slow down.
2. That despite the hardships, I am able to be strong for my boys.
3. For simple pleasures like a strong cup of tea - which go a long way in restoring one's soul.
4. That my sons took 3rd and 4th place in today's athletic event and called to tell me.
5. That I can tell my boys that I love them and that they are able to say it back without being embarrassed. Likewise with exchanging hugs.