Monday, April 12, 2010

The joy of temporary aloneness.

One of the hardest things about being a parent, for me, has been the loss of alone time. Even as a very sociable person who can spend hours with friends, family, or any random person who crosses my doorstep, talking about everything from the weather to the state of current affairs, I need alone time. In an ideal world, I'd spend two hours out of every day, completely alone.

It's become my biggest fantasy: two hours a day, alone.

What would you do with two hours alone? I can think of ten million ways to pass the time: I'd read magazines; I'd organize my cooking folder with the loose pages falling out everywhere; I'd meditate; I'd lie down and nap; I'd paint my toe nails. Etc.

I need time on my own, like everyone does, like you do, because alone time does something good for the body and mind. There's something very healing about letting go of everything for a while, not having to answer to anyone, not being responsible for anyone.

It's draining to not have any time alone during the day. To always be "on". It's bloody exhausting. Especially for the stay-at-home parent, for whom there's really no opportunity to be alone - to step outside the office for a quick breath of air, or take an hour for lunch. Sometimes even two minutes in the bathroom is ambitious.

Last week I went to work for the first time in three years. I sat in the studio, alone for periods of time while my practicum boss attended to her clients, completely enraptured by the stillness of the space around me, taking in the faint music, the distant traffic outside, and my own breathing. It was heavenly.

I settled at a desk with my text books open in front of me, my note pad and pen and paper cup of coffee, and became absorbed in what I was doing, without interruption. I managed to get a load of work done - possibly more in those two hours of pure, focused attention, than I could get done in an entire day at home.

It's healthy to want to space, to need space.

It was terribly hard for me last week, dropping the kids off at their new dayhome for the first time, waving goodbye as my toddler cried and reached for me. I cried all the way back in the car after I left them. And after three years of being with them all the time, it's no surprise.

But when I was at work, doing my thing, I realized that this time, this space for me (even though, okay, it isn't really true alone time: that will come, one day) is so, so needed.
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17 comments:

gringationcancun said...

As a single gal, I sometimes feel I have too much alone time.

The grass is always greener, I guess.

Congrats on the new job!

gringationcancun said...

As a single gal, I sometimes feel I have too much alone time.

The grass is always greener, I guess.

Congrats on the new job!

FRANNIE said...

I agree...sometimes you just don't want to be resposible for anything...even if it's only a few minutes. :)

sarah said...

It's such a blessing in disguise! and congrats on the new job! thats awesome!

Kim - In Search of Me in Mommy said...

Yeah for the new job! I LOVE my alone time - when I get it! Sometime, though, I don't know what to do with myself.

Kristy said...

Alone time is wonderful and very important to me as well. I am very very good at sitting, thinking, reading, writing. I know it's hard to leave them at daycare/home sometimes, but it is good for them too!

Jana@anattitudeadjustment said...

I daydream of alone time, too. I would read books, blog, and sleep.

I went to work last year and thought it was amazing that I could actually go to lunch with adults, but that was rare. More often, I was surrounded by high school kids. I'd go back to work more readily now, after my second, if I could have the experience you have--a quiet desk, coffee, work sitting in front of me. But teaching does not seem so appealing. The day goes fast, but there is not alone time. I'd love to be a teacher, I often think, if it meant I could sit at a desk for long periods during the day and play my music and drink my coffee. But I think I may need to sign up for a different career.

Jana @ Attitude Adjustment said...

I daydream of alone time, too. I would read books, blog, and sleep.

I went to work last year and thought it was amazing that I could actually go to lunch with adults, but that was rare. More often, I was surrounded by high school kids. I'd go back to work more readily now, after my second, if I could have the experience you have--a quiet desk, coffee, work sitting in front of me. But teaching does not seem so appealing. The day goes fast, but there is not alone time. I'd love to be a teacher, I often think, if it meant I could sit at a desk for long periods during the day and play my music and drink my coffee. But I think I may need to sign up for a different career.

Chic Mama said...

I think then you start craving a bit more once you've experienced that 'free time'
I end up as I'm doing now at 2am getting my free time now. When no one is demanding or asking me to do anything...I always regret it in the morning though.
Great news you're enjoying your job. x

Christine said...

Congratulations on going back to work. I hope you are finding your groove in this working territory some of us choose to navigate. It isn't easy, but the opportunity it allows us to find ourselves again can be quite amazing. I love those moments along, the peace of my office, the freeness of setting my own course most days when I'm working.

I hope you continue to enjoy it!

Elaine A. said...

I'm sure it's hard at first, but you will all adjust and it will be fine. I can see you already are... Good luck with the new job and enjoy.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

It's funny because even though I have a lot of friends and enjoy being with people, I LOVE being by myself. I love those nights when Chris is a away (keep in mind - they don't happen frequently) and I can do whatever I want. Which usually means watch girl movies and play on the computer without any neglected looks.

Sabreena said...

Alone time becomes a comodity as a mom. It feels like I give my day to my kids then once they're in bed my husband takes over. I am actually looking forward to going back to work when they enter school in the next year because I am hoping to have that feeling you explained on your first day back. It's okay to want to be alone, moms just aren't told that enough.

Maria @BOREDmommy said...

Alone time is key to one's sanity. If I could get an hour a day, I would be a much happier mommy, and I think everyone deserves to have at least that!

Mwa said...

You're so right. And it's often not so much alone time, I find, as time without little beings relying on you for absolutely everything.

Loukia said...

It certainly is the hardest thing in the world, leaving our little ones when we go off to work. It is hearbreaking, and many times I've cried, too. But it does get better. AND yes - it is amazing ot have that alone time, that 'me' time. To enjoy an entire cup of coffee, to finish a meal sitting down, to think about whatever you want, to not have to talk or answer questions. Yes, it's great!

Metropolitan Mum said...

I used to go on holiday on my own. Up to six weeks in a row. Every summer. So, I think I can say I hear you.