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.