I have been spending a fair amount of time lately with young colleagues and the children of close friends, all of whom are working mothers of little ones. I hear them lamenting the intensity of the pressure that they feel to be great Mom’s, great wives, housekeepers, cooks, cleaning ladies, soccer cheerleaders. Many of them wish, desperately and aloud, for “one day to myself!”
I hear them. Man, I remember, so well, when my one true desire in life was to have an entire afternoon without having to meet anyone’s needs. A few hours of blissful silence in which I might daydream, listen to music, nap, eat cookies, paint my toenails bright red. That isolation and solitude sounded like Heaven to me in those days, when I was scrambling to keep up with the demands of a husband and three kids while teaching other people’s children all day.
I remember that wish.
Now I find myself at home on a beautiful Sunday, all alone to do whatever I would like. Paul is away on a hike with a friend. He was away overnight last week with our kids, and will be away all of next weekend hiking with two of our oldest friends. I’m happy for him! Mostly. In the old days, the thought of an entire weekend home alone was absolutely paradise. I would have been packing his bags and making his lunch……
But this is now. This is the life of the empty nest. This is the second Sunday with me home alone. The dogs and I took a nice long walk. I made my breakfast and enjoyed it over the Sunday paper. I did some gardening and weeding, washed the floors, threw in a load of laundry. I read for a while, made some bread, worked on some ideas for the next to last week of school.
Everything is neat and clean. Everything is done.
I am sitting on the sofa, counting the minutes until Paul comes home so I will have someone to talk to.
I miss the demands that came with being the Mom. I miss the action, the noise, the need, the endless list of things that I needed to do. I miss my usefulness.
And that, my friends, is the key to my current distress. I have a great job, good friends, a loving family. I read, I write, I bake, I garden. But I can’t seem to find anything in life that makes me feel useful, in the primal way that motherhood made me feel it.
“Be careful what you wish for.”
I think I’m having too much of a good thing.