Recently, I had a conversation with a friend. She was worried that she was feeling selfish for wanting something she decided against. She said she wanted it to be “about her,” and that she felt bad about that. I told her that, like me, she has raised her children and she has every right to, finally, feel like something can be about her. I also told her that I felt that way for about 5 minutes and got over it quickly, when I remembered all the sacrifices I made in raising our kids.
I spent my 20s raising a child, my 30s raising someone else’s children (with zero zilcho help from their own mother), and the early part of my 40s finishing that up. Now, at 43, we are about to have the last kid (not counting the furchild, of course) out of the house, and I’ll tell you that it feels absolutely fabulous. The ability to eat cereal for dinner, never have a television show interrupted again, not have any dreaded and horrid sleepovers, and be able to come and go as we please, without having to worry about who needs to be taken to and picked up from where. OMG it feels fabulous.
Yes, there are probably some haters out there. I don’t honestly care. You are free to think what you want. Motherhood was not the “best part of my life,” like some of my friends. My child and stepchildren were not what I lived and breathed. I didn’t run to every dance recital, soccer practice, baseball game, school play. I didn’t want my kids involved in every single activity they so chose to be in, mainly because I wanted them to have the opportunity to experience childhood without having to be constantly entertained. What do I really think about kids who are in every single activity? I think they are overstimulated and underrested. I think they cannot survive without being at someone’s house or someone being at their house. I think they learn to think like a team but never learn to think for themselves. Both are necessary, but killing one while allowing the other to flourish is doing them a disservice. I also think that they are, a lot of the time, fulfillig some need in the parents who send them to each and every activity. But, as I said before, each person can have his or her own feeling about the subject.
Today, we went shopping on a Saturday. Alone. We went to the plant store and bought trees. We went to the Home Goods store and browsed leisurely because we could. We had a nice, slow lunch at one of our favorite non-kid friendly venues, and we had a nice drive home. No one was in the back seat constantly complaining about what we didn’t buy her, what we didn’t allow her to do, or what we were “going to do” when we got home. Life like this is what I like to call Ordinary Time.
What do I plan to do as soon as the last one leaves home next month? Buy new dishes that I don’t have to worry about someone else breaking. Buy new pots and pans that aren’t completely banged up from someone using a metal spoon on a non-stick surface. Sit on the deck in the evenings and decide (a) if I am hungry; (b) if I want to cook, or (c) if I just want to have cereal for dinner. The latter sounds better and better the older I get. Sleep in on Saturdays and not worry about what time someone has to be at work, at school, at a test, at the prom, or anything else. Relax in a hot bath without someone banging on the door. Have a clean house, lacking dirty footprints and messy rooms. Relax, and enjoy the fruits of my labor, instead of having to care for the fruits of someone else’s short-term pleasure.
Yes, I’m greatly looking forward to it. No, I won’t miss them. Yes, I know what I’m talking about, as I already don’t when they have been gone on the weekends.
I will enjoy my Ordinary Time. I will relish in its sweet, unadulterated moments of solitude. I will reflect on what I have accomplished, and hope that my children accomplish their own dreams on their own. I will not fund laziness or the I don’t care-ness.
I will be me.