“Love you Mommy! Bye!”
“Love you too! Have fun!”
I waved to my youngest, turned and walked back across the street- to where my puppy waited for me.
“Well it’s just you and me Winnie…”
He ran to the window to whine- as if to say:
“Screw you. We’re together all the time- I want my kids!”
I had the house to myself on Friday night.
My husband and teenager had packed up earlier that afternoon and headed for Toronto where they were attending the University Fair the next day.
(Yes, we are now at that point in our lives…)
It was to be a ‘Mommy and Youngest’ weekend- but something better came up- a sleep over with one of her best friends.
So that was it- I was home alone on a Friday night.
I wasn’t feel that great anyway- having been diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection and possible walking pneumonia earlier in the week- instead of pouring myself a glass (entire bottle) of wine- I opted for a small glass of orange juice, comfy PJ’s and set myself up on the sofa in the downstairs family room… laptop and Netflix on the large TV.
(It is rare that Mommy ever gets this prime television watching spot to herself)
I don’t like being home alone at night- something that started when I was younger and to this day still is very much an irrational fear of mine. Since I couldn’t have a nightcap because of my antibiotics- I opted to stay up as late as I could watching Friends on Netflix, until my eyes started to droop.
A fine plan indeed.
My puppy was mad at me. He was very out of sorts with everyone out of the house- so instead of sucking up to me, and wanting to hang out- he turned his back on me as if to say:
“I’m going to bed…night!” and took off in a huff to his dog bed.
I was worried that our resident ghost was going to make an appearance- and I really did NOT want to deal with that. The first noise happened around 10:30 p.m, from the upstairs bathroom- feet stomping around, it sounded like a cabinet opened…
“Screw this’”I said (to the empty basement) before I jumped up and began shutting the house down, It took me less than a minute before I locked myself in my bedroom with the TV on and my trusty baseball bat at my side.
I was able to fall asleep with ease- which is surprising considering my level of anxiety but of course around 1:30 a.m, I awoke to the house shaking with thunder and flashes of lightening.
OF ALL THE NIGHTS to have a thunderstorm raging, it is while I am by myself, in a haunted house, clutching a pink baseball bat engraved with my name…
(If that visual doesn’t bring to mind the start of a horror story- I don’t know what will…)
I had sat up at first, glancing around the room, listening to the rain pour outside my window- watching the lightening light up the room. I glanced at the clock and sighed when I realized I had many more hours to go before daylight.
It took a lot of willpower not to reflect on the fact that I was home alone- and even more willpower not to let my mind wander and turn it into a scenario that I could use later on in my writing.
Save the scary writing for the daylight.
As taught as a child, I mumbled a quick prayer, tossed the covers over my head and miraculously fell back asleep.
I woke up at 5 a.m. Saturday morning- having survived the night – that was it, even with the house empty and no one but the dog (who wasn’t going to stir until 7 a.m anyway) I still got up and began my routine.
I have been taking a lot of time recently to reflect – and even though that Friday Night Alone was not exactly something I care to repeat soon- it was one of those situations that maybe while I didn’t like it, it was something that my soul needed.
I have noticed this growing trend among my peers- aptly titled:
Mommy Burn Out
(Not to discriminate- I know dads who also suffer from the Burn Out)
No one really warns you about that aspect of parenting, the part where you lose this part of yourself for the greater good (your children) when you discover that your lives are no longer just yours and you are just a shadow of your former self.
I lost myself a long time ago- which was an odd realization for me when it finally hit home (many years after becoming a mom I had my first ‘Oh Shit.. Who am I again?’ Moment…) I find that as my oldest daughter prepares for the inevitable (Graduation and University…leaving home…) that I am having multiple ‘OH SHIT’ moments about this.
Let me explain:
While I have been both a working mom and stay at home mom over the years, neither has made a difference in the fact that my kids come first. (So stop your blasted wars on the topic- it is hard on both sides!)
I am always on the go- appointments, extra curricular activities, social events etc… It never bloody well stops- and while some are my own things, or for the house, and even for my husband, the bulk of it revolves around the kids.
Even in the evenings, when I am at home and can take five minutes to myself- I’m still on duty.
Moms don’t quit. Dads don’t quit. Parenthood isn’t something you clock out from once the kids are asleep- It is a 24/7 job…
So when an evening is presented to us where we are free- and alone… it can be oddly unsettling if you aren’t used to it.
So yeah- my night alone was forced on me. It felt odd to be completely alone and not ‘on duty’ with a kid in a background- or even have my husband around…but the truth is that the time is coming when both my girls are going to be off at University- they are going to grow up, leave home and I won’t be on 24/7 watch.
I will have passed the torch to my kids.
My identity will still be ‘Mom’ – that never changes- but my role will. I’ll continue to become more of a background figure- take on new roles… and in a lot of ways my independence will once again be thrust upon me.
I have been giving a lot of thought to the future and what is coming… and a night to myself just serves as a reminder that things are continuously changing. Life continuously ebbs and flows and you just need to go with it.
Truth: I don’t like the thought of my kids being away from me. They have been my world for so long. It scares me to think that one of my babies is already so grown up. Time went by incredibly fast.
So if you are a parent reading this, remember- It is okay to take a break– it is completely okay to put yourself first (take a class, go on a vacation, take a day ‘off’, do something for YOU) and take care of yourself for a few reasons:
You are a role model for your children. If they see that once in awhile you take a break for yourself, it isn’t selfish on your part- you are teaching them that when they grow up that they too can take breaks when they are in a parenting role and it is okay.
There will come a time when your kids do grow up and move on to their own adult lives- while it is important to cherish every memory and moment- they need to see that you aren’t going to burn out and you need to remember who you are and that your independence is going to make a comeback- better to be prepared than go through the shock of ‘Wait…now what?’
You Deserve Some Down Time.
Of course, I speak all this from my own experience… every person is unique- so take what you will from this post and advice. I am only preparing for my nest emptying and it has only recently dawned upon me that the next phase is a hell of a lot closer than I care to admit.
I have so many friends who are enjoying life after the Empty Nest, and others who are burning themselves out… but in the end I can only speak on how I truly feel and my personal reflections on the topic…
That Friday Night alone was not my favorite, but it was eye opening…
And it is just the beginning of preparing for the next phase of who I am becoming…
…Me, Myself and Irene (3.0.)
All Images ©TheyOnceCalledHerPumpkin
Featured Image: Taken off the C.N. Tower in Toronto. (Photo Credit to my daughter)