Monday began like any other day. I woke up early, took care of the dog, worked, cleaned just enough to make myself feel like I did something, and drank about a gallon of coffee. I went upstairs, finished getting myself ready, picked out clothes for the girls, and then wrangled them into those clothes. We brushed teeth and hair, sang a bit, had a couple minor meltdowns, and eventually made our way downstairs when everyone seemed calm and was smelling decent. On the lower level, they each demanded the normal morning niceties: a new milk sippy, their gummy vitamins, their blankies. Then one by one, we entered the car and drove to school.
Dropoff was typical. Riley, though she can’t bear to be away from my side in the morning, ran right into school. Quite the opposite and not a morning person, Maddie wants much less of me in the morning but wailed at my departure. Like any other day, I dragged my guilt back to the car. But, unlike any other day, I headed home. Alone.
Alone. It had been a long time since I’ve truly felt alone. The was a morning two summers ago that I will never forget. I woke up a 6:30 a.m., about half an hour before Riley woke up. It wasn’t a planned event, but it was glorious. I fixed myself a pot of coffee and sat on the front porch in the cool morning air. Just me, myself, and my coffee. Alone. I’d forgotten how good that felt. I’ve woken up early each morning since just to have that first pot of coffee to myself in a quiet household. There are very few things that I will sacrifice sleep for. Being alone is one of them.
Thus on my big, fat, round-number birthday this year, I could think of only two things that I wanted to do. Be alone, and not plan anything. The two things that I seldom experience. So, I took a one of my precious vacation days that I typically save for the winter daycare illnesses and took a day off of work and life. No checking emails, no cleaning.
As I walked back into the house after my guilt-ridden dropoff, I didn’t feel the sense of relief I thought would come. In fact, I just felt weird. My instincts made me want to take care of the ever-growing pile of dishes. I resisted. After all, it wouldn’t be fair to my kids if I messed up my whole day-off plan by cleaning. I was being a good mom by neglecting those crusted-over ceramic wares. Vindicated, I changed into my running gear and headed out with my trusted pup for a run. The three miles absorbed all of my guilt, and the peaceful, energizing alone feeling took over. A quick breakfast and on to the next activity. A swim. A passion put on the shelf due to lack of time. Then it was out of the pool and on to the store. I had no car seat buckles or whines to overcome so I went to a few. Just stopping in to look. I also discovered that the fast moving crowd only exists in Walmart on the weekend. Weekdays no one is in a hurry in Walmart. A slight point of stress until I realized I wasn’t in a hurry either.
After a morning of exercise and blissful alone time, it was off to lunch with Lesley. A lunch where I sat the whole time, ate my food, and knew what was going on in the conversation. No bending over to pick things up. No cutting up of food into small pieces. The end of lunch brought us to a local winery for some wine tasting. Tasty wine that cost more than the $4 Aldi bottles.
Not alone, but still in the peace of Indiana countryside and no small voices, it was a setting fit for the movies. Not a cloud in the sky and a perfect mid-seventy degrees. We sat on the patio for the remainder of the afternoon. Poor Lesley put up with my love of country music, and I fear I made her miss more work than she had planned. A good friend, to say the least.
The day wound down, and we returned home with the girls. Getting away from the everyday is nice, and needed, but only because there is an everyday to return to.