Do you want to know what I’m doing right now? It’s not a secret but it’s also not something I get to do very often.
I’m not doing a thing. Not a single, gosh darn thing. That’s not to say that I haven’t done anything yet today. I’ve gotten two boys up and ready and delivered to school. I’ve paid bills, and walked my three dogs. I’ve spent far too much money at the grocery store and cleaned out the fridge before putting it all away. I’ve started a load of laundry, and picked up (not to be confused with actually cleaning) the house… and it’s only 10 a.m.
Now, for those of you who don’t know me well yet, the fact that I’m not doing something, ANYTHING, is a huge deal. HUGE. Me, sitting on my couch, a laptop across my legs, a bottle of water to my left, a turkey pastrami sandwich to my right, in lieu of t.v. or radio, the doors are open to allow in the sound of the birds outside, the dishwasher is humming in the kitchen and I’ve watched the cute guy from four houses down run the block four times.
Ok, I told you what I’m not doing, now let me tell you why.
Do you have any idea how many times I’m alone in a day? Sadly, I can tell you. Twice. Once for twenty minutes in the car on the way to work, and once for about a half an hour on the way home (I have yet to figure out why it takes ten minutes longer to get home than it does to go). In either case, every other minute of my day is dedicated to, used for, given to, borrowed from, or in consideration of others.
I like to pretend. I pretend I’m the perfect parent. I pretend I’m the perfect employee. I pretend I’m juggling all the balls life has thrown at me and I even pretend I’m never in danger of dropping any of them.
Because it’s a weekday, this means the boys are at school. My friends and family have plans and schedules all their own and I can only pretend that for the first time in a very long time, I’m at home, alone for longer than ten minutes. All alone.
I’ve learned a couple things about myself already. I’ve learned that sadly, the boys are right, I really can’t sing (I guess it wasn’t the sound of the vacuum throwing me off key after all). I learned that the dogs may be trying to kill me. Why else would they walk a foot ahead of me and then just stop and lay down? Most importantly, I’ve learned that in my own small baby step ways, I have been pampering myself, taking care of myself, learning to be okay with myself.
I didn’t walk the dogs this morning for any other reason other than I wanted to be outside. This is one of those few times a year in Arizona when it’s not a stifling 119, or a limb numbing 42 (this is Arizona remember, so anything below 90 is cold to us). I got to walk at my own pace, take the route I wanted.
While I walked, I tried to figure out how to spend the eight hour break between school starting and school ending for the boys. That’s when I realized I had school work of my own to do. You see, after much debating on when to go back, and where to go, and what to study, I am currently in the enrollment process for college. Again. Heaven help me, I’m going back to school.
The biggest revelation of all? I like this whole taking a day and want to change my schedule to have Friday’s off on a regular basis. I like having time to spend on whatever I want, however I want; I LIKE having time to myself.
As a single parent, alone time isn’t something that comes naturally or easily and when it does happen along, it’s rare to walk away without at least a little guilt for having taken that moment for ourselves.
I can honestly say though, it doesn’t make me a bad parent to recharge my batteries, to literally take a walk, talk to myself at the grocery store over name brand versus generic, sit on the couch and listen to the birds – at least until the boys are out of school and the house is once again overtaken by the sound of sixth grade gossip and tenth grade grumblings.
Single or not, do you get a chance to spend time alone? Do you MAKE the time? What do you like to do when you’re not being split in a multitude of directions?
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Wendy Syler Woodward, 37, has been a single parent for 10 years, with two boys ages 11 and 16. Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family seven years ago to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and is preparing to go back to college before the end of the year.